Written by Terry Smith
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Best half barrel planters UK: top plastic and wooden extra large barrel planters
This article was last updated on August 28th, 2021 at 9:18 am
With heavy spring-time rainfall and strong but sporadic sunshine, now is the perfect time to get in your garden and get planting. But word on the street is that regular Bill and Ben flowerpot planters are so last year. In 2021, it’s all about the half barrel planter, the rustic and much more stylish version of a typical flower pot.
I know what you’re thinking though – what even is a half barrel planter, and which one should I choose? Do not fear, we have selected the best half barrel planters on the UK market, to make choosing the perfect planter a walk in the park for you.
What is a half barrel planter?
Prepare to have your mind blown. A half barrel planter is half a barrel used as a planter. I know, I know – who would have thought it? The idea is that you fill the half barrel with soil and then plant whatever your heart desires in the barrel, for a super rustic and charming garden decoration. However, the opportunities are endless with half barrel planters and they can also be used as water features, mini ponds, storage units, or essentially whatever else you can think of. There’s nothing better than a versatile garden feature.
In terms of size, they can range from teeny tiny to extra-large, the latter of which we will be searching for today. It goes without saying that the bigger the planter, the more you can stuff into it, but another advantage of an extra-large planter is its increased durability. Extra-large planters tend to weigh more, therefore fare better in bad weather, and taking a look at the menacing grey clouds outside, I would hazard a guess that we’re in for a pretty stormy spring-summer time this year. Yikes.
But how about the average cost of a planter? Like with most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for in the half barrel planter industry. This means that the more you pay, the better the quality, but it hardly takes a genius to figure that one out. Generally, prices range from around £10 to £60, with the larger half barrel planters sitting pretty comfortably at the latter end of that price range. Aside from size, another key feature which determines the price of a planter is the material it is made from. But what are half barrel planters typically made from?
Should I buy a wooden or plastic planter?
Forget ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’ The most important question in the half barrel planter world is whether you should invest in a wooden or plastic planter, and it’s a tricky one to say the least.
The whole idea behind a half barrel planter is that it is made from wood, as the product is modelled from a barrel, typically one used to store whiskey or wine. With this in mind, most people would assume that a wooden half barrel planter is the way forward, as it is more traditional, and theoretically more aesthetically pleasing. And most people would be right – I would certainly agree that wooden half barrel planters look slightly better than their plastic counterparts, however when it comes to factors such as durability, price and weight, plastic planters deserve credit where it is due. They are, for the most part, waterproof, rustproof, lightweight and slightly cheaper, so what’s not to love? It is also worth bearing in mind that wooden garden products often require treatment in order to keep them looking good and working well, no matter what the elements throw at them. Plastic products do not require any treatment, so if you want a quick and easy cheat’s version of the original barrel planter, then perhaps plastic is the way forward for you. However, if you don’t mind putting in a little more time and effort, keeping it old school with a wooden planter will certainly pay off aesthetically, plus their added weight can be a good thing should you wish one day to stack other objects on top of your planters.
Whether you decide to go down the wooden or plastic route, it is important to think about the weight, size, material, attractiveness, and price of your prospective planter and luckily for you, we have taken each of these factors into consideration in our review of the best half barrel planters in the UK.
Let’s get stuck in!
Best Half Barrel Planters:
The Best Wooden Half Barrel Planters
1. Large Burntwood Barrel Planter Will Add Charm and Character to Your Garden
Specification: Material: Solid burntwood + Metal, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: yes, Size (Approx): 38 x 30cm
Made from solid burntwood with a slim metal trim, this half barrel planter understands the brief when it comes to aestheticism. It manages to sit perfectly in between looking sleek and rustic, with the burntwood slats nodding respectfully to the whiskey barrel design that the planter is modelled from, and the black metal trim adding a polished feeling, making it the perfect accessory for any garden, whether you’re the prim and proper type or more into the wild meadow aesthetic.
Measuring at approximately 30cm x 38 cm, this barrel is decent sized, and would work well as a planter for some mid-sized flowers, such as geraniums and roses, or as a mini herb garden. Unfortunately, if you were looking for a larger planter which could hold a tree or bush then this planter is a little too small.
Another unfortunate shortcoming of this planter is the fact that it is in no way waterproof. Now, this is to be expected with wooden planters, as exposure to water can often lead to rotting and long-term damage to the wood. However, where many wooden planters can overcome this issue with wood treatment, the wood used with this particular product has a slightly cheap and thin feeling to it. Don’t be surprised if you notice wood stains coming off in your hand when handling this product after a heavy downpour, as the coating also is not of the best quality.
Despite these issues, I like how this half barrel planter has a hole pre-drilled into the centre of the base, to enable drainage underneath whatever plant you decide to rehome in the planter. This is a design feature which many manufacturers leave out in case customers want to turn their planter into a water feature. But as we have already established, water and this product do not mix particularly well, so the drainage hole is a good addition for green-fingered planters who aren’t bothered about having a water feature.
Costing £23.97, it won’t exactly break the bank, but I have a strong feeling that for that money we could do a little better, so let’s see what else is on the market.
2. Marko Gardening Round Barrel Planter Plantpot Burntwood Natural Wooden Flower Pots Plants Garden
Specification: Material: Wood + Metal, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: yes, Size (Approx): 38 x 30cm
You have options with the Marko half barrel planter, primarily when it comes to the colour. Available in a dark burntwood design or a fresh ‘natural’ colour which is most similar to the colour of pine, I enjoy the aesthetic versatility of this product. Like the previous planter, the Marko half barrel measures 30cm x 38cm, so it’s not exactly the biggest half barrel planter on the market, but don’t let this put you off – there are many things to love about this planter.
Firstly, it really does look great. I’m a particular fan of the natural colour, as it blows a breath of fresh air into the design of the wooden half barrel planter, which generally sticks to dark and somewhat dreary coloured wood. The light natural wood is perfectly offset and complimented by the black metal trim and handles, making for a good-looking planter which will elevate even the most boring garden.
Furthermore, like our first planter the Marko half barrel has a hole, with a 2.4cm diameter drilled into its base, making this the perfect product for planting. This of course means that the planter is not to be used as a water feature, so have a think about exactly what you want your half barrel to operate as before buying.
One major advantage of the Marko planter is the price. Coming in at around twenty five pounds, this product is a super reasonable price, especially when considering the fact that you actually get two planters in every order. This makes the previous product pale slightly in comparison and assures you that you are getting value for your money with the Marko planter, as each planter will technically only cost you half that. That is what I call a good deal.
3. Whisky Oak Barrel Planter – Barrel Creations
Specification: Material: Wood + Metal, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: no, Size (Approx): 63 x 86 x 43cm
The final wooden half barrel planter in this review is Barrel Creation’s Whiskey Oak Barrel Planter, and you can rest assured that we have most definitely saved the best until last. Measuring a whopping 63cm x 86cm x 43cm, the Barrel Creation planter is the biggest on this list by far and is more than ample in size to be the host for a small tree. With this increase of size comes an increase in weight, and this barrel weighs in at approximately 30kg, which is good news if your garden is prone to high wind, as you can guarantee that this barrel will stay put.
In terms of appearance, this barrel is the closest that you will come to the real deal, as the company uses real whiskey barrels to create their products. Each one is unique, rustic and super sturdy, and some customers have even reported a slight whiskey smell coming from the barrels, which I think is wonderful.
However, the incredible design and authenticity of this product comes at a price – £50 most often. And there are no hidden extras within this cost, for the money will get you one barrel, which for many gardeners is on the expensive side. In my opinion, the price you pay for an authentic and unique product, but for some it is simply a rip off.
Another issue with Barrel Creation’s planter is the fact that it does not come with a drainage hole. This means that the customer is responsible for drilling a hole into the bottom If they wish to grow plants in the barrel, so ensure that your household toolkit is fit with a drill before purchasing this product. Furthermore, like our other wooden contenders, this barrel is not waterproof, so don’t expect to be able to build a water feature or pond out of this product.
Still, the weight and strength of this planter means that it can withstand a fair amount of weight, so you could use it for stacking or as a base for another garden utensil – something which our previous wooden contenders would be too small and lightweight to achieve.
I think this is the ideal wooden half barrel planter, especially if you are a fan of authentic and original style – it’s just a matter of deciding whether you think the money is a stretch or not, but for my money it’s a valid investment compared to the other products in this review.
The Best Plastic Half Barrel Planters
4. UK-Gardens Round Oak Wooden Effect Resin Garden Barrel Planter Pot 49cm Indoor Outdoor
Specification: Material: Plastic, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: yes, Size (Approx): 25 x 49cm
In terms of plastic half barrel planters, the UK-Gardens product isn’t a bad contender, combining practicality with aestheticism to make for a well-rounded planter which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Measuring in at 25cm x 49cm, this barrel is a decent size, sitting around the mid to large range for half barrel planter. It weighs approximately 16kg, which is a pretty decent weight for a half barrel planter – not too heavy, but not so light that it will blow away on a particularly blustery day.
In terms of materials, this product is made from a polyurethane plastic resin, which is UV-stabilised, protecting it from fading in direct sunlight, not that we experience much of that living in the UK! The plastic is engraved and painted to look as much like the real deal as possible, and the thickness of the barrel certainly contributes to this life-like portrayal. Furthermore, the plastic design makes it 100% waterproof and weather resistant, saving you a whole lot of time and money on wood treatment.
In addition to this, the base of the planter is totally watertight, with no holes drilled. This is good news for those of you who are after a half barrel planter to use as a water feature, but bad news for those who need drainage holes for planting. However, drilling your own drainage holes is hardly a lengthy or technical process, so this should not be a dealbreaker.
It isn’t the cheapest or priciest planter on the market but given its realistic appearance and durable design, I would say that this price is pretty fair. However, if you are looking to buy more than one planter for your garden, you could easily get a better deal which includes two planters for the price of one, so that is worth taking into consideration.
5. Homestead Brown Half Barrel Cask Planter – Large, Set of 2 Pots
Specification: Material: Wood + Plastic, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: no, Size (Approx): 22 x 40cm
Out of all of the artificial half barrel planters reviewed, I would argue that the Homestead planter is the least authentic looking, but this does not make it an unattractive product. If your garden is neat and tidy and in need of an equally refined and polished looking planter, then the Homestead planter is for you. However, if you are drawn to planters such as the real whiskey barrel planter by Barrel Creations, then Homestead’s option may be too artificial for you. It’s all in the eye of the barrel beholder.
Appearance aside, this product measures at 22cm x 40cm, a more than satisfactory size to house small to mid-size plants. The planters weigh in at just 1.6kg, which makes them super transportable and easy to manoeuvre, but potentially too lightweight to be stored outside in bad weather. This also means that they would not be appropriate for stacking, as the super lightweight material is likely to buckle under heavy weight.
As with UK-Gardens’ plastic planter, Homestead’s product does not come with pre-drilled holes, and you know the drill by now – this makes it ideal for a water feature but means more work for you if you are looking to use the barrel as a planter.
What is really impressive about this product is the price. Costing about thirty quid for two planters, you get double the product for the same price as just one of UK-Garden’s planters. Their durable, of good size and a brilliant bargain, it’s just the slightly artificial design which lets Homestead’s product down.
6. Coopers of Stortford Large Outdoor Plant Flower Pots | 30cm set of 4
Specification: Material: Wood + Polyurethane + Oak + Plastic, Single hole in centre of base for liquid drainage: no, Size (Approx): 20.5 x 33.5 cm
Our final half barrel planter is made by Coopers of Stortford, and is the smallest of our plastic selection, measuring 20.5cm x 33.5cm. Whilst this below average size may be a let-down for some customers, the super thick polyurethane plastic makes this planter super long-lasting and durable. Besides, the small size is somewhat irrelevant when considering the fact that this product comes in a set of four, so whilst you lose a couple of centimetres in diameter and height, you gain an extra two planters.
At similar money to the second option we compared but with the twist you are paying just twelve quid or so a piece with these half barrel planters, making them the cheapest product on this list. However, the word ‘cheap’ indicates a sacrifice of quality, which you certainly won’t find with Coopers of Stortford. Aesthetically, the design is spot on, and from a distance it would be easy to mistake this planter as the real thing. However, there are no drainage holes, so do with that information what you will.
With great design and even better value for money, the Cooper of Stortford half barrel plastic planter is a worthy winner of the best plastic planter.
If you didn’t find anything in the list you liked my not consider making one:
This is a superb tutorial and it might well save you a good bit of money if you don’t mind the rustic look!