How To Make A Sunken Container Garden

Insulate your water garden against temperature changes by sinking a pot in the ground. Fill with water-loving plants and enjoy all season.

Create an easy insulated water garden with a sunken container. Rather than placing a container on top of the soil where it's susceptible to temperature fluctuations, plant the pot in the ground so it's surrounded with soil. The minipond also looks particularly attractive at the edge of a path or when surrounded by other plants.

Get inspired by these water garden landscaping ideas.

What You Need

  • Shovel
  • Plastic planter
  • Sand or gravel
  • Flat stones or flagstones (optional)
  • Plants

Water Garden Plant Options

See more of the best water garden plants here.

Step 1: Dig A Hole

Using the pot as a guide, dig a hole slightly larger and deeper than the pot, so the rim sits flush with the surface of the ground. Level the bottom of the hole. Add a layer of sand or gravel if necessary.

Step 2: Place Pot in Ground

Set the container in the hole and fill in around it with sand, gravel, or excavated soil to make sure the pot is secure in the hole. (Find a use elsewhere in the garden for the unused excavated soil.)

Step 3: Plant In Container

Fill the in-ground pot with water and let it stand for several days before planting with one water lily, a small lotus, or three to five small potted and floating water plants. You can camouflage the pot edges with flat flagstones.

Check out our top picks for water lily varieties.

Other Container Options

Almost anything can be used for a water garden. Turn an old or new metal trough—horse, cattle, or pit (available at antiques stores or at animal supply stores)—into a water feature simply by sinking it in the ground; follow the same directions as you would for a smaller container. Add one or two medium-size rocks to connect it visually to the surrounding garden. Camouflage the rim with a covering of rocks and flat stones, or leave it in view, accented with plantings. Put a fountain near one end.

Try these plants in your trough garden.

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