Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. And we all know the tragedy that followed! But there are plenty of times that you’ll need a pail in your garden. Hopefully, you’ll have a better time, too.
A pail or bucket can be used for carrying water, but it could also come in handy for many other things. A bucket is great for carrying small garden tools, moving some dirt, or collecting weeds to carry to the trash can.
Buckets and pails can even be used as planters. Many types of plants can thrive even in a confined space. We won’t talk much about that use, here, but it’s worth considering for your garden!
What To Look For In A Bucket
There’s no difference between a “pail” and a “bucket”. “Bucket” is definitely the more common word, though.
Both refer to a container used to carry something. They’re made of solid materials and usually have a handle. They can be of any size.
Buckets come in many sizes. They can hold anywhere from a pint or two up to a couple of dozen gallons.
However, the most useful buckets for your garden will range from 2 to 5 gallons in size. This makes them large enough to be useful but small enough to be manageable. A five-gallon bucket of water, filled to the brim, is going to weigh over 42 pounds – so most people aren’t going to want anything bigger!
The type and strength of your bucket’s handle are also important. It has to be tough enough to hold up to the weight in the bucket. At the same time, it has to be comfortable enough so that it doesn’t feel like your fingers are being torn off. Most handles are made of a thin metal piece with a thicker plastic piece around it for gripping. The grip could also be cushioned, making it even more comfortable.
And of course, durability goes without saying. Most buckets today are either galvanized steel or plastic. There are also some newer ones made of tough rubber. You want to avoid anything that will rust or rot. Other areas to consider are the handle itself as well as the points where the bucket and handle join. Those points are the most likely weak spots.
We should mention that there isn’t really anything that makes a bucket a “garden” bucket. They’re basically the same as a bucket you’d use anywhere around the house.
Ideas For How You Can Use a Garden Bucket
Here are just a few ways you might put your bucket to use:
- Carry water to remote areas of your garden. A bucket is especially useful for deep water when a watering can just isn’t enough.
- Carry your tools. If you have to move your small garden tools around, a bucket will help keep them together.
- Gathering weeds. When you do your weeding, it’s helpful to gather them in one place so you can dump them later.
- Temporary trash can. If you have a get-together in your yard, a couple of buckets with kitchen trash bags in them can make perfect trash cans.
- Portable toy box. Have your kids gather up all their yard tools in a bucket. It’s easy to carry and can hold a decent array of smaller toys.
- Mixing pool chemicals. Some pool chemicals should be mixed before adding them to the pool. A bucket is great for this. We recommend having a bucket that you only use for this task, though. If you must use the same bucket for other tasks, be sure to clean it thoroughly first. Plastic buckets are the best choice here.
- A gardening stool. Flip your bucket over and sit on it! It can be a convenient stool for most people in the average weight range. But don’t forget to flip it first – otherwise, you might have trouble getting unstuck!
- Beverage buckets. You can always fill a bucket with ice and bottles of cold drinks to enjoy on the patio! For bigger gatherings, though, you’ll want a specialized cooler.
Our Picks for the Best Buckets
We’ve looked around for some tough buckets at good prices that will serve you well in your garden. We’ve got a couple of different sizes and have included plastic and galvanized, too. These will hold up well for you and be a valuable addition to your gardening tools!
Rubbermaid is one of the best-known names in household plastics, and they don’t disappoint with this bucket. It holds up well and is a smaller, manageable size. Pictured is the 2.5-gallon size, but there’s a 3.5-gallon version as well. It’s also available in red or grey.
Unlike some other, larger plastic buckets, this one does feature a spout to make it easier to pour liquids. This can make it easier to direct and control the flow. It will still pour much faster than a watering can, but it does offer some control.
Another great feature is that the interior of the bucket is marked so you can tell exactly how much you’ve filled it.
The bucket measures 13 by 12 by 10.5 inches. The handle is steel with a hard plastic grip to make it less painful to carry.
Behrens is a leading name in galvanized steel, and they don’t disappoint, either, with two buckets on our list. This 10-quart (2.5-gallon) pail is fantastic for smaller tasks.
The bucket measures 10.75 by 10.75 and is 9.25 inches across. The empty bucket weighs about 1.7 pounds.
It’s really durable and looks great, too. The only drawback we see is that there’s no grip on the handle. Since it’s a smaller bucket, it won’t weigh too much, but after time it might still feel tough on the hand.
For a larger option in galvanized steel, Behrens offers this 22-quart option. That’s 5.5 gallons – pretty big and sure to be great if you’re watering trees or gathering up a lot of stuff!
There are a wide variety of other sizes available, too, which you can find at the same link.
At 15.5 by 15.5 by 13.5 inches, it’s a nice bucket, although the lack of a handle grip can quickly tire your fingers if you’re carrying it while full.
We really like these Behrens buckets; the design and durability are fantastic. They don’t leak and the slight offset of the base from the rim keeps them from matting down all the grass around them. You’ll still get a thin ring, but not an entire circle!
If you need a large plastic bucket, you can’t go wrong with this “Home Depot” branded version. And the colors will help guarantee it’s easy to find in the back of the shed or in among your plants!
The bucket holds 5 gallons. If you need them in quantity, they can be ordered in packs of up to 100. Be careful, though – with the lower quantities (at least as of this writing) they cost a couple of pennies more per bucket. Once you get over 20, though, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.
The plastic is durable. The steel handle attaches to the bucket at plastic holes which are sturdy enough that you won’t have issues unless you seriously overload the bucket.
The bucket is 13 inches in diameter and 14.5 inches deep. The actual material is polyethylene. Lids are sold separately.
Another 5-gallon plastic bucket, this one from Leaktite has a style all its own! If you like the military look, or just don’t want your bucket to stand out among the greenery of your garden, this is a great choice.
It has a foam grip to make it more comfortable to lift. That’s a huge advantage with buckets of this capacity.
It’s 13 inches across and 14.5 inches deep. It does not include a lid, but lids are available for it (although we haven’t seen any in matching colors).
Something as simple as a bucket can be a valuable tool around the garden. Not only can you use it to transport water, but it’s great for a lot of other functions as well. Whether you choose plastic or galvanized steel, be sure to pick a size that fits your needs. A quality bucket will last for years and making all your lawn and garden care easier!