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Old metal wheelbarrow for mini- pond?


I would like to create a miniature pond to help the wildlife in my garden. I have a budget of nothing! So I’m looking around to see what I already have. I actually already own a wheelbarrow from homebase where the wheel has broken and we have not been able to replace the wheel  . So at the moment it’s just useless. . It’s made of metal (not sure what kind of metal- it’s silver ) and I’m wondering if I remove the legs to it if this would be a suitable container  for the water?  Is there any issue about it rusting or being toxic to plants or wildlife?

I also do not wish to put any plastic into my garden as I’m going plastic free so  i’m not going to be doing anything  with plastic liners.  

 Thank you in advance for any advice!
Eve :-) 


  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,580
    My first thought is that my wheelbarrow has holes in it for bolts to secure the main part of the barrow to the frame so those would need to be properly sealed.

    My second thought is that (assuming you're talking about using the wheel barrow as is - ie a free standing pond) the metal could heat up a lot in summer and heat the water - so you probably wouldn't be able to grow plants in it.

    However, assuming it's sealed, if you sunk the main bucket into the ground (perhaps in the shade) and surrounded it with nice plants I think it could be a rather nice feature. My wheelbarrow is quite deep so you'd need lots of pebbles to make steps for wildlife to climb in and out safely. If the water doesn't heat up too much you could then look at a pond plant or two.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Hi,

    Great thanks for your advice!

    Yes I had thought of sinking it into the ground although that was mainly for access for any frogs etc but now you've said about the heating issue I definitely would sink it down... I could put big pebbles in there for the base so it would only be the insides of the sides which I think I could mostly cover with the plants... I believe there are plants that help keep the water fresh and attract insects etc so was planning to put some in there... I can position them around the sides so that that none/  very little of the metal would be available to get heated up.

    I'll have to research what would be good for sealing the bolt holes up with that wouldnt be a polymer base... maybe I could leave the bolts inside. if any of the bolt is proud I could bury that area in the pebbles....

    Thanks so much again! A lovely project for spring!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,015
    I'd agree with T'bird. It would need to be buried for the reasons she indicates. Once you have the positioning, you can help to keep it cool by using other planting around it to create some shade too. Overhanging planting like hostas, grasses and ferns will help disguise the edges too. 
    Making it watertight will certainly be the main challenge.
    There might be someone here on the forum who could recommend a good sealant for any holes. One of the outdoor sealants for windows etc might do, but it would need to be waterproof when constantly wet. You don't want it springing a leak a few months after you get it all in place!
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • If you re-use plastic that you already have, surely that wouldn't add to the total?
    I have had things delivered in thick polythene that, though it probably isn't totally resistant to UV, would certainly help to delay the inevitable decay of your wheelbarrow. I'm using some from a mattress to make a cover for my mini greenhouse :)
    Putting stones and rocks in risks scratching and damaging the silver coating, increasing the speed of rusting, so the plastic would help with that as well as waterproofing.
  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,053
    Back in the day before silicone sealants, putty was used to seal windows but that has linseed in it so no good. The only other non-polymer sealant I can think of is tar! Absolutely no good! If you can still get it, epoxy resin would do - non-polymer. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  •  That’s great thanks everybody! 

    I know it seems a bit militant but I’m worried about plastics leaching into water, soil et cetera seeing the effect it’s having on animals (including humans) now it’s gotten into the sea is very alarming. So I’m trying to be really strict where I can! It will be a test that’s for sure but I’m willing to try ideas and see what works with the hope of getting the right result in the end!
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,861
    If you have an old cotton blanket or similar, you could lay that in first which would protect whatever you use as a liner.
    I think you'll need a liner as the wheelbarrow will rust and leach into the pond water.

    I had a new freezer delivered a while ago which was covered in a thick plastic bag about 8ft tall, something similar may work
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Yes must admit I’m worried about possible rusting... I guess it may just not be a viable receptical for the pond! 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,675
    If it's a new-ish wheelbarrow it might be galvanised.  You could leave it with some water in it for a while to test for both rusting and leakage.
  • The problem is it will rust and leak eventually - they're designed for moving stuff from A to B, not for holding water!
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