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I am the lucky recipient of an old butler's sink in good condition which I would like to use in the garden---id there anything special that I should do to it before setting it up with plants? And what would readers recommend--a herb garden in it or an alpine garden???

Eagerly looking forward to your ideas---

Depends where you site it.............plenty of good gritty compost will allow you to have a variety of alpines/house leeks or WHY. 

 Just ensure that you allow drainage whatever you go for.

One thing about old sinks is that the enamel finish on the inside does tend to stop plant roots getting a could always make an interior "lining" by mixing some sharp sand/grit with a tad of cement and making a thin layer bottom and sides........that way, the plants can get a grip.

If you get it right, they do make an attractive planting area.



If you look up 'hypertufa' on the web it gives loads of advice if you want to turn the sink into a replica stone trough.

Steve 309

Why do the roots need to grip the inside of the sink, Philippa?

Are  you saying that all these ''sinks'' we see with plants in, have an interior lining---seems a lot of ''kerfufle' if I may say so? I knew I had to ensure good drainage, then thought you just popped plants in, with suitable compost.-------


Orchid Lady, I would LOVE  one of those 

Cant advise in compost etc as would have no idea myself, but personally I would have it as a herb garden 


 Its easy to add a hypertufa covering like the one above, this one has a polystyrene fish box as its base, but would work just as well with a porcelain sink.

Steve............just that when you plant stuff in the ground, there is always room through the soil for the roots to grow.  If the roots suddenly come up against a smooth surface, they can't get any further.  A smooth surface also allows water to "sit".

You can argue the same happens in a pot...........b ut if you want to have the sink as a fairly long lasting "planter", I've always found a rough surface is better than a smooth surface.

Just my experience .............I would never plant  something in a pot which was glazed on the are just providing a sink for water to sit in.

Each to their own I guess


I have one 

 and I made an alpine garden

 My plants didn't seem to have any issues growing! Hahaha!


star gaze lily

Would love a butlers sink, wouldn't cover it up. Would use mine for a small rockery garden.

Think I should put this on the envy thread Panda 


My butler sink was, what I consider, cheap, £30. I got it from a place that sells that kinda stuff.  Not much help, sorry 

Steve 309

Actually, I think if I could get one (especially for £30) I'd have it in the kitchen!  My new stainless steel one is so thin it bends when you turn the taps!

Never had a problem with glazed surfaces in sinks. Not aware that any alpine growers do anything to the inside surface. Air will "stop" a root but why should a slippery surface? Glass, ceramic or plastic works fine for me.

Orchid Lady

Me too Lily  Just had a quick scan on eBay and there are a few on there, some with bids of only £20 and 1 day left 

star gaze lily

Think I'll have a look Tracey thaaannnkkks!!


Orchid Lady

They are all down south so no good for me and OH cab breath a sigh of relief!!  May keep  looking though 

star gaze lily

Nearest to me was £80 on ebay   But will keep looking, as they started at £10. Happy hunting Tracey 


We were lucky and one had been left in the shed when we moved in....I thought about using it for a planter, but in the end set it up as a sink in the garden where I can wash the veggies from the little allotment plot we have. Trouble I want more to use as planters....

trillium......I wasn't suggesting it only applied to alpines............I'd do the same whatever I planted in a container which was glazed on the inside..

I assumed the OP was asking for advice........I offered my suggestions.............what works for me............I'm certainly not forcing my opinions on other posters. If you are successful doing it another way, that's fine and your opinion is as valid as the next persons  

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