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Mr. Smarty Plants - Livestock Watering Tanks Used for Container Gardening at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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Saturday - September 17, 2011

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Livestock Watering Tanks Used for Container Gardening at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We would like to use livestock watering tanks like the ones use the the Wildflower Center for plantings in our backyard in Plano, Texas. We have found some to purchase in McKinney, Texas. What do we need to do to the bottom so that they will drain? Were the ones at the Wildflower Center specially made, or are they livestock tanks? Thanks

ANSWER:

Those tanks have generated a great deal of interest among vistors to the Wiildflower Center. They are plain old galvanized steel livestock watering tanks available at most ranching supply centers or large feed stores. They are available in a number of shapes and sizes.

To provide drainage, holes were drilled in the bottom of the tanks before they were put in place. Mr. Smarty Plants asked Wendy Redding, a Wildflower Center horticulturalist who did a lot of the drilling, "How many holes were drilled?" Her reply, "Thousands." The holes were about one-half inch in diameter.

Drilling holes in galvanized steel is going to be tough work. You will need a powerful drill and high quality drill bits made for metal work. Be sure to wear gloves,  safety goggles and a dust mask. You'll be making a lot of metal shards and dust.

Here are some articles I found about using stock tanks in the garden:

http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=1610

http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=224

Just a note on terminology. In ranching lingo, a "tank" refers to a small pond constructed to provide water for livestock. The metal containers we have discussed are usually called "cans." In order to appear more cosmopolitan than I really am, I have referred to them as tanks in this answer.

 

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