Those 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot or Lowes are ubiquitous on job sites all across America. Whether in construction lots, backyards, or garages, those buckets are just about everywhere.
In fact, if you’re reading this you probably have a few stacked up somewhere yourself.
But it’s well known that those buckets can serve purposes far beyond what they were originally intended for. Some of them may be obvious, and others are quite ingenious.
Below we’ll look at 18 crafty and unique uses for those extra 5-gallon buckets you have lying around.
1. Grow some veggies
A 5-gallon bucket can be a perfect garden planter, even when you have no garden.
Many people want to start growing vegetables but may simply lack the space to do so. But if you have a 5-gallon, you can grow various crops right inside the bucket.
One of the most common uses is to grow potatoes. Drill a few small drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket, then fill about a third with dirt. Next, place cut potatoes to act as seeds on the dirt.
Finally, fill the rest of the bucket with a mix of topsoil and fertilizer. Then just water regularly and in a few weeks, you dig out potatoes!
Buckets are also great for growing smaller varieties of tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes. The setup is very similar to the potatoes, except the tomato plant will grow upward and out of the bucket and will need to be supported.
2. Convenient Composter
There’s no need to buy a composter if you have an extra bucket laying around. Simply line the bucket with a suitable compostable bag and start filling it with organic material like leaves or leftover veggies.
Depending on the type of composting you’ll be doing, you may need to add small drainage holes at the top or bottom of the bucket. These allow airflow and also liquids to drain out. The holes should be less than an inch in diameter.
Make sure to use the top to keep out rodents or other pests, including insects. The air will compost the mixture for you so there’s no extra work to be needed.
3. Tailgate Cooler
Need an impromptu cooler to keep those drinks cool? The bucket has you covered. Simply fill with ice and you’re ready to go. A bucket can easily keep a 12-pack of any beverage cool. When you’re done, simply dump out the ice or water and you’re done.
There are also styrofoam liners available that are molded to fit perfectly in a 5-gallon bucket. Using one of these can keep whatever is inside cold for hours, making it essentially as good as a real cooler that can cost much more money.
This one takes a little bit of work, but in the end, your birds will have the best house on the block. First, determine what size birds you want and drill two appropriately sized hoses so only those birds can enter.
Smooth out the holes so there are no sharp edges. Finally, add a thick piece of twine or rope that hangs down the center of the bucket in a loop. The birds will use this to perch while inside the house.
Now, it’s up to you to decide how to dress up outside. Fashion a funky roof or paint the outside however you want. It’s up to you!
5. Long Extension Cord Holder
A 5-gallon bucket can hold about 100 feet of standard extension cord. Not only will it store it, but if you need to coil it back up, you can easily feed it right back into the bucket and it will be coiled without tangles. You can also only pull out how much you need if you pull one end out of a hole near the bottom of the bucket.
6. Fishing Rod Holder
This one requires some extra PVC pipe about the size of a fishing rod handle and about 7 inches long. Cut the small pieces of PVC pipe to securely hold a fishing rod without the rod tipping over. You may have to make a cutout for the reel. Next, glue the pieces at uniform locations around the inside of the bucket.
You can also place these on the outside and use the inside for storage while fishing. If the bucket has a handle, this can be all you need to go fishing. The bucket can help with storage on your way out, and the bucket can hold your fish on the way back.
This is similar to the planter idea but with a more sophisticated setup for those wanting to get into aquaponics. The uniform shape of the buckets makes them perfect and holes can easily be drilled to accommodate the individual piping needed for common aquaponics.
8. Chicken coops
These buckets can house more than birds as we’ve seen earlier. You can also use them as individual chicken coops, saving you time from having to build dividers inside of your structure. Simply cut the lid in half then place some foam tubing over the cut to soften it. Place on the bucket then lay the buckets on their side, then fill with bedding material.
They are the perfect size for a nesting chicken. Best of all, you can easily remove them for cleaning and put them back.
In an emergency, a bucket works as a pretty handy toilet when no other options are available such as camping or survival scenarios.
You can get as fancy as you want, considering it’s just a toilet. But adding a foam noodle around the lip of the bucket offers a lot of extra comfort for only pennies. Some even hang a toilet paper roll off the end of the bucket for extra convenience.
Finally, you can use a bag inside the bucket as a liner if you plan on reusing the bucket or need the setup to last for extended uses.
10. Mushroom Farm
This one is easy and the results are pretty amazing. Drill a few small holes around the bucket, then fill with damp Aspen wood chips along with some store-bought mushroom grain spawn, which will act like a seed.
The mushrooms will begin growing out of the holes and keep growing, often becoming larger than the bucket!
This one may get you some strange looks from the neighbors, but with a little handiwork, you can make it look nice.
If a plow took out your mailbox during the last big winter storm, a bucket can work in a pinch. Of course, this may work best in rural areas where your mailbox doesn’t get much attention.
12. Paint Roller Cleaning
Cleaning a paint roller can really make a mess, especially when using a hose that spins the roller. This gets the paint off fast, but it also makes a huge mess.
By lowering the roller into a bucket first, most of the spray will stay inside the bucket. You can even cut the lid to allow the roller to be placed inside with the lid on, leaving only a small opening for the water to enter. This makes it almost totally splatter-proof. And using this tool makes it even easier!
13. PVC Pipe Cutter
This one works great and only requires a little bit of work.
Cutting a piece of large PVC pipe can be difficult if you don’t have a good way to hold it in place. This can happen on an impromptu job site or during an emergency repair.
But cutting two V-shaped cuts at opposing ends of the top of the bucket perfectly holds the pipe and it can then be cut with a regular saw.
14. Wet Dry Vacuum
Many different companies now sell vacuum heads that fit on top of 5-gallon buckets. These are perfect when you don’t want to haul an entire wet/dry vac around but you know you’ll have buckets on hand at the job site.
Simply bring the vacuum head along that is small and portable and turn any bucket on the job site into a wet/dry vac. This is also great if you have to clean up liquids that you don’t want in your normal wet/dry vac, such as sewer or toilet overflow cleanups.
You can go two different ways to turn your bucket into a toolbox. One is to buy a premade bucket liner. These come in various shapes and sizes and fit perfectly into a bucket. They have pockets and dividers for all common tools, and the handle of the bucket makes it easy to transport.
If you want a custom liner, you can create dividers yourself out of wood or other materials, which can be handy for custom tools or applications.
Either way, you have a lot of options here and you’ll often see these on job sites everywhere.
16. Post Holder
Buckets are cheap enough that you can use them as a concrete form to support a post. Simply put your post in the bucket then fill it with concrete. Keep the post centered with tie-offs or other methods, then wait for the concrete to cure.
When done you simply bury the whole thing where it needs to go. You can also remove the bucket if you want, but it’s not necessary if you’re in a hurry.
17. Extra Seating
These are great for fishing or camping when you may need some extra seating. Several buckets can be placed inside one another, taking up not much more space than a single bucket. When removed, they can be used as seats when inverted or with a pad that covers the top of the bucket.
18. Auto Animal Feeder
These are great for around the farm or other large properties where you may need to feed several animals, but want an automatic solution.
Make a small half-circle cut-out at the lip of the bucket, appropriate for the size of feed you are using, then invert the bucket over a tray. Gravity will fill the tray as the feed is removed by animals or other wildlife.
You can mount the bucket to the tray if the animals are larger and try to knock it over.
19. Air Conditioner
If you need an affordable alternative to traditional air conditioning for a small space such as an RV or a tent, you can hack together a DIY air conditioner form a Home Depot bucket. The idea works by blowing air over a frozen gallon milk jug and out through three exhaust ports.
The Many Uses For A 5 Gallon Bucket
These are just the most common uses for a 5-gallon bucket. But with some imagination and some common hand tools, you can use these buckets for anything. In some cases, people have even combined dozens of buckets together to build a pontoon boat.
So as you can see, these buckets are extremely handy, and best of all they’re extremely cheap (or free). So use the tips above or let your imagination run wild and find your own unique use for those extra 5-gallon buckets you may have stacked in the garage.
How Do You Use Home Depot Buckets?
What else can you do with a Home Depot bucket? Lots and lots, no doubt. Let us know in the comments how you use 5 gallon buckets.