DIY Aged Copper Container Garden

by Joy
3 Materials
2 Days
Create a quick and stylish container garden using simple galvanized horse troughs. You will be able to make this project in a weekend!
Hi Friends!
I have always LOVED gardening. I grew up in an area where home gardens were the norm and I love that folks are going back to their roots so to speak and digging vegetable gardens again.
When we moved to the Houston area, we chose to live in a wonderful planned community. We had three days to find a home and ended up finding a lovely home. The only downside is the size of the yard. Not a whole lot of room for a full on garden.

Lack of space, of course, is no excuse! Trying to figure out how to make a veggie/herb garden work was a bit tough. On our first try years ago – I built up landscape stones along the fence and filled the area with good dirt. It worked “OK” but at some point the roots would come into contact with the gumbo mud and that was all she wrote for my little plants.

I then had this wonderful idea!
Horse Troughs! This was it! I could imagine adding troughs as my garden grows over the years. After searching online and around town – the best horse trough price, you may ask? Tractor Supply Co. hands down.

We set the troughs up outside and painted each trough with about 3 coats of copper spray paint. *** I probably should have used a dark primer first but I didn’t.
After the first coat… it took about 2 1/2 cans per trough.
These babies hold a ton! For drainage purposes we took the cap off the back and used weed blocker over the hole to prevent clogging. We then added two bags of small gravel per trough.
I added more weed blocker material over the small pebbles  before I added the soil.
4 bags of soil per trough added and we are ready to plant!
To up the “has this courtyard been here forever?” factor – I aged the copper with this fabulous product.  I adore Modern Masters products. I used their gorgeous paint to give my sweet little piano a makeover (you can see it here) and I was excited to try the patina.

The product has simple to use instructions and I used one box for both troughs – I didn’t do this on purpose… my Hobby Lobby only had one box left at the time I did the project. I figured if I loved it, I would return and grab another box and add more patina. Yep, I LOVE it! I simply dragged the dark copper paint all over the troughs then quickly sprayed the patina solution. The sweetest compliment came from a friend who popped over to see the whole makeover and she thought I bought the troughs at a high end store. Woo Hoo!
You will also noticed that the troughs now have wheels! A quick trip to our local Harbor Freight yielded a great wheel selection. Cut two planks to the size of the container right inside the lip to hide them from view and add two wheels on each plank – kinda like roller skates for your trough.

Supplies Needed:
  • Horse Trough
  • Copper Spray Paint
  • Modern Masters Patina Finish
Wheels for mobility – optional

Till Later,
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 9 questions
  • Charlotte Cox Charlotte Cox on Aug 27, 2019

    It gets so hot here in Texas. Does the metal cause the plants to over heat and die?

  • Tina Tina on Aug 31, 2019

    My only concern would be metal leeching into the soil and thereby, the plants. I’ve toyed with the idea of horse trough gardens before, but that concern has always held me back. Do you know if this is a problem with this project?

  • Kerri Willerford Kerri Willerford on Aug 31, 2019

    Aren’t the troughs galvanized? If so I think a vinegar wash is necessary so the paint will not come off.

Join the conversation
4 of 54 comments
  • Trudi Trudi on Jul 05, 2020

    Not sure where you live, but her in AZ those troughs are $100. A bit pricy to me.

  • Stephanie Morris Stephanie Morris on Jul 06, 2020

    I have an old horse trough looks to be the same size and shape but the bottom is rusting out. This year I covered the bottom with old plastic feed sacks and pine shavings and used it for a chick brooder. I would like to make a planter out of it but am worried about how to repair the bottom. Ideas would be appreciated.

    • See 1 previous
    • Gail Gail on Jul 14, 2020

      Drainage is good. I use troughs for raised beds and drill holes in the new ones. I prefer old ones with holes in them. Make sure you put it where you want it to stay.....unless you have a front end loader or skid steer to move it.