How to Turn an Old Clawfoot Tub Into a Planter

I thought I would share the process of how I repurposed my old clawfoot tub into an outdoor planter — though there wasn’t much to it.

The tub was already in the yard when I moved into my house. It was propped up on a pile of stones under the partial shade of a mature feijoa tree, and as you can see, it sits slightly askew to promote drainage through the original drain hole.

In a climate like Southern California, which gets little rain, drainage isn’t a concern for me. (Though we did receive several inches in our recent set of storms, and the tub held up well with no waterlogging.)

If you live in a very rainy climate, it might be a wise idea to drill a few more holes in the bottom to help with root aeration.

I don’t recommend adding stones, styrofoam, pot shards, or any of the other fillers people often turn to for pot drainage.

This is a long-standing gardening myth that refuses to die, despite simple physics proving that so-called drainage materials do the complete opposite of what they’re intended.

Water does not move easily from finer textured material (soil) to coarser textured material (say, stones). As the water trickles through the soil and reaches the stones, it will stop and start to pool in between the layers (in effect, “back filling” the pot) until the soil is fully saturated.

Only then will it start to drain — a slow process that keeps the roots sitting in soggy soil far longer than it ordinarily would if the whole pot were filled with soil. Rather than assisting with drainage, the stones restrict it.

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