Whiskey barrel water gardens are a great idea to create a water feature if you have limited space.You can buy them at most garden centers or if you are the handy type of person, you could buy the complete barrel from a wine producer, then cut it in half and you have two water barrels. These barrels are great to use as whiskey barrel planters or water gardens.

How to make a whiskey Barrel Water Garden

Things you will need

  • Heavy duty plastic to make liner or buy pre-made liner
  • Water lilies or plants of choice
  • Small fish


Before doing anything you need to decide where you want to place your water garden. It is best to place it so it has both shade and sun. If you keep fish in this the water may get too hot if left all day in full sun. Too much sun may also encourage algae growth.Floating plants like lilies will give them some protection to hide under and look beautiful when in bloom. Choosing the position now is easier than trying to shift it once full of water because of the weight factor.

It is best to line your barrel with a plastic liner.We have made them without liners, yes I know if your barrel has been left empty for any length of time the wood will shrink. Once you put water back in the wood will once again swell and stop leaking.Let's face it the wine and whisky manufacturers would not put their expensive wine in something that did not seal, now would they?

I believe that using a liner would protect the life of your barrel.You can buy a barrel liner from your garden centers or use a heavy duty black plastic to line your wine barrel then staple it over the top edge.Use caution when placing this inside the barrel as you will defeat the purpose if you damage it by making a hole in it.

Always keep the barrel full of water to at least an inch from the top to reduce sun damage.It could eventually destroy the liner even when using heavy duty plastic. Even swimming pool liners wear around the top if not kept full from the sun's rays.Once you fill the barrel with water allow it to stand for a few days before adding any fish to reduce the chlorine in the water. Or you could purchase some start right which will rectify this problem.

Mosquito breeding

Any non moving water will encourage the mosquitos to breed.Therefore to prevent this happening put a couple of fish in the water garden to eat any lava that may breed in the container.We have enough mosquitos without encouraging more breeding places. 

Water Plants

Water plants not only look great but act as a filter.You could even use the barrels as a permanent plant filter above your main pond, with a pump filtering the water.Many ponds use plants for a producer of natural oxygen. Fish will also feed off their root system. As the barrel is small place small fish like guppies, or any small goldfish.Use cold water fish only is these ponds.

Choosing Types of Plants

Water lily, Iris, elephant ears for more ideas ask your local fish and pond supplier.

Water-pumps and filters 

If you have two wine barrels you could create a water-feature by placing one barrel higher than the other with a pipe or water flow from one down into the other.Listening to the sound of running water is so relaxing and adds to the look of the garden at the same time.

Place a small pump filter at the base of the bottom barrel and pump the water up to the top one allowing it to flow back over the top to the bottom one.