a washbasin raised bed

Turn an old washbasin into a raised bed

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I love a good upcycling project. When I was writing Raised Bed Revolution, it was important to me to include raised bed ideas that didn’t require woodworking skills. Not everyone has the tools or the space to build a raised bed. However, there are so many options that don’t involve a lot of effort to get set up—old stock tanks, kits, fabric raised beds, an old suitcase or drawer, or an old washbasin. With some of these, you’re simply drilling a few holes for drainage.

On a particularly fruitful antique shopping outing, I found an old washbasin that I instantly knew would make a perfect raised bed for a small space. I decided to add a little extra to this project by mounting it on sawhorse legs, but you could just drill holes in your washbasin and call it a day.

Here are some tips for creating a raised bed from an old washbasin

Use a drill with a high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit to create multiple drainage holes on the bottom of the washbasin. Be sure to wear work gloves, and ear and eye protection, as well.

Over the last three years, I have planted the washbasin on a sawhorse leg platform, which raises it off the ground, keeping out pests, like bunnies and raccoons, and right on the ground, making it a bit more vulnerable to critters. Case in point: This summer I’d been patiently waiting for peppers to ripen. Two were close, but after returning from a weekend away during which time they ripened, something had taken a huge bite out of one of them!

Making the sawhorse legs to support the washbasin raised bed
I liked the idea of keeping the washbasin up and off the ground, so I used a pair of old sawhorse legs that my dad had in the back of his shed. He helped me figure out the best way to create a platform on which the washbasin could safely sit.

sawhorse prep for washbasin raised bed

To create a base for the washbasin atop the sawhorse legs, I added a layer of support with a scrap piece of 2×4 and plywood.

The 2×4 was placed between the sawhorse brackets and attached with screws through the premade holes. Then a piece of plywood was fastened to the ends of the 2×4 (between the brackets, as shown above).

Finished washbasin raised bed on sawhorse legs

Here’s the finished project. I built this in the month of August, so I planted cool-weather crops in the washbasin that first season.

Planting the washbasin raised bed

My washbasin is nine inches deep, so it works for both above- and below-ground plants. In other words, you could plant a nice patio variety of tomato or pepper, or you could go the root veggie route. That first autumn, I planted Early Wonder Tall Top beets, Romeo baby carrots, White Icicle radishes, Red-Cored Chantenay carrots, Rainbow Swiss chard, and Leaf lettuce. With that fall’s warm temperatures, I was enjoying root vegetables well into late October, early November!

Last year, I experimented and planted fingerling potatoes. I got a decent harvest, but you couldn’t really mound the soil easily around the plants once they reached a certain height, so I probably wouldn’t plant my potatoes in the washbasin again.

potato plants in a washbasin raised bed

My potato experiment in my washbasin raised bed.

In 2017, I planted a few pepper plants in my washbasin raised bed!

Burpee Gold Standard Pepper

This is one of the pepper varieties I harvested from my washbasin raised bed in 2017: Gold Standard from Burpee!

I’ll leave you with one more washbasin idea…

plastic washbasin raised bed

This appears to be a plastic washbasin mounted to a cart. I saw these outside a restaurant in LA. They were full of herbs and tomatoes and kale. Another great raised bed idea!

What have you upcycled into a raised bed?

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Turn an old washbasin into a raised bed







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