How-To Prepare a Whiskey Barrel for Planting


We recently picked up a couple of strawberry trees (Arbutus Unedo) for free on Craigslist. They were planted in ground and had their root ball severely cut into.

We wanted to try and save these trees before they went into the chipper but we have no extra ground room. Instead we opted to plant these in large whiskey barrels, with hopes that they regain their root system and flourish and provide us with even more rich vegetation in our yard and shade.


We procured our 1/2 whiskey barrels at Home Depot and grabbed some soil and a bit of fertilizer. These 1/2 barrels are probably about 20 gallons and are super heavy and awkward to move. We piled them into the back of the truck and positioned them without much trouble.

But before we added soil and the tree we needed to cut some drainage holes. We cut five holes using a 1″ spade bit. Strawberry trees are very hardy but do require proper drainage to thrive.


We covered the bottom of the holes to keep soil from falling out, by using some garden bed fabric. We stapled the fabric to the underside and then flipped the barrel over and added a base of soil before setting the tree in the bottom.

We’ve also raised the barrel off the ground so it can breathe on the bottom and properly drain and dry out.


The leaves haven’t completely turned and after a few days we see the top of the plant has looked healthier but we’re still not out of the woods yet. After the second watering we’ll see if these trees will last.

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