Trugs are the iconic gardener’s basket; they’re a stylish and practical way to carry produce and cuttings in from your allotment, or transport tools around your garden.
Trug baskets have been dated back to the 16th Century, and the name is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘trog’, meaning ‘wooden vessel’. Trugs were traditionally made from willow, and were used to measure grain and seed. Following the introduction of mechanical scales, trugs then evolved into a way to transport produce and tools.
Traditional-style trugs are designed to be lightweight, and have a wide, shallow base, that allows the carrier to collect and arrange an array of plants. Different sizes of trugs are available, depending on the purpose, and a fixed handle over the top makes them easy to carry in the hand, or over the arm.
Trug-style baskets can also be woven from wicker, and modern trugs – like most things – can be plastic. These days, trugs have become not only a practical garden tool, but also a stylish garden accessory, or even a decorative way to display flowers, at events such as weddings.
If you’re in the market for a new trug, read on for our selection of 5 of the best garden trug baskets on the market today, based on their style, durability and value.
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Prepare to find your new favourite garden companion – for no gardener is complete without his or her trusty trug!
Our favourite trug basket is made from wicker and hessian, giving it a beautiful country feel
Cost: Price not available
Topping our selection of the best trug baskets is this Rectangular Wicker Trug by Red Hamper.
Made from sustainable antique-wash willow, this traditional-style trug basket comes with a durable hessian lining. This lining is hard-wearing and will ensure nothing slips through gaps in the base of the basket – so it’s suitable for carrying seeds and grain.
The trug basket is lightweight, and will be easy for most gardeners to carry from house to allotment, whether empty, or full of fresh produce. This is the Medium size, which measures 410 x 240 x 120mm, but it also comes in Small and Large, and all 3 are very reasonably priced, so there’s one for every garden.
The traditional look of this trug is what we think sets it apart from the crowd, and it would make a lovely gift for a gardener, or decorative way to display flowers. However, do bear in mind that being made from wood and hessian means this trug shouldn’t be left outside in all weathers, as the materials could rot.
Overall, this trug basket offers you style, tradition and practicality, and it’s also one of the most affordable options on our list. We think any gardener would be happy to have this to hand come harvest time – or all year-round.
- Stylish, traditional wooden look.
- Made from sustainable antique-wash willow.
- Durable hessian lining.
- Lightweight and easy to carry.
- Would make a great gift for a gardener.
- Comes in a choice of 3 sizes.
- Reasonably priced.
- Not advisable to leave it outside in the rain, as the wood may rot.
- Natural construction means size can vary.
Our best value trug basket is super cheap, and made from weatherproof plastic – but it doesn’t have the traditional look
Cost: Price not available
It might not be a conventional style, but this Easy Shopping 45L Garden Trug Basket is the trug we think offers you the best value for money.
Made from heavy-duty polyethylene, this modern trug basket is waterproof and hard-wearing, so unlike those made from natural materials, you can leave it outside in all weathers.
The polyethylene is also flexible, meaning you can compress the basket for storage, and also bring each of the two handles together, for easy transportation using one hand – although this might be difficult if it’s full, due to the large size.
The sizeable 45L capacity does mean that this option is ideal for transporting tools, or large loads of compost or garden waste. It’s available in a choice of 10 colours, so there’s one to suit every taste. The baskets are stackable, so you’ll be able to store multiples together, without taking up too much space.
The main advantage of this basket could also be considered a drawback – whilst durable, the plastic construction means you lose the traditional trug basket look, and it’s also not as sustainable or eco-friendly as trugs made from natural materials.
However, this is our most affordable trug basket, and whilst you will be sacrificing the traditional look and style, if you’re looking for practicality alone, it’s hard to beat.
- Highly durable and fully waterproof plastic construction.
- Large 45L capacity is suitable for tools and garden waste.
- Flexible sides, for easy storage.
- Available in a choice of 10 colours.
- Stackable with others of the same design.
- Low cost – this is our most affordable trug.
- Not as stylish or eco-friendly as those made from natural materials.
- Handles feel a little flimsy.
- Likely to be heavy when full, and there are no wheels to help you manoeuvre it.
A practical, modern-style trug basket, which has wheels, for easy transportation and manoeuvrability
Our next trug basket is this Garden Caddy by Draper Expert, which is another modern, plastic option, but this time with 2 wheels on the base.
This allows you to easily move the trug around your garden and makes it ideal for transporting heavier items, without putting too much strain on your body. Consider it a smaller and more user-friendly alternative to a wheelbarrow.
A large 65L capacity makes this our biggest trug, and means it’s suitable for carrying a wide range of garden tools, from trowels and rakes, to power tools. If you’ve got an indoor fireplace, you could also find it useful for bringing logs in from the log store to your home, and it can be used to carry water to your plants – although bear in mind there’s no plug in the base, for drainage.
Despite its large size, the trug is lightweight enough to be lifted relatively easily when required, and elderly users should find it manageable. The convenient handle can also be operated with one hand, leaving your other hand free for opening garden gates or dustbin lids.
Overall, this is another highly practical – if not particularly attractive – option, that may be particularly of interest to elderly or disabled users.
- Large 65L capacity – this is our biggest trug.
- Wheels and handle for easy manoeuvrability.
- Ideal for a wide range of garden jobs.
- Lightweight and can be moved with one hand.
- Suitable for elderly users.
- No traditional look.
- Made from plastic.
- No plug in the base for draining water.
A small-yet-stylish, traditional trug basket, with a handle crafted from a single piece of willow
Cost: Price not available
For our fourth trug basket, we’re going back to a more traditional style, with this Rustic Trug Basket from Nutley’s.
This eco-friendly option is made from 100% biodegradable, sustainably-sourced willow, and the handle of the basket is crafted from a single branch of willow wood. This undoubtedly makes it more attractive and eco-friendly than the plastic options on our list.
The classic look of this trug is also ideal for use in flower displays, or at events such as parties and weddings. Not only does it look traditional, but it’s also made in the traditional way, by hand.
The basket is the ideal size for collecting fruit, vegetables, flowers and eggs from a small garden or allotment. However, you will likely find it too small for the bigger garden jobs, such as transporting grass cuttings, or power tools.
Ultimately, this rustic trug basket is a great option for those who prefer a more natural look, and are happy to sacrifice a little size for style.
- Stylish, traditional trug look.
- Made from sustainably sourced willow.
- 100% biodegradable – more eco-friendly than plastic.
- Made by hand, using traditional methods.
- Stand and handle made from one willow branch.
- Ideal as a gift, or for use in flower displays.
- Smaller and not as versatile as larger trugs.
- Colour and size may vary, due to natural materials.
A wheeled plastic trolley, that levels itself, so it’s capable of transporting soil and liquids – as long as you’re careful!
Cost: Price not available
The final trug basket we think deserves a place in your garden is this Garden Pride Trug Trolley.
Made from plastic, this is another trug with wheels, so you can easily manoeuvre it around your garden, and it’s a good alternative to a wheelbarrow, for smaller spaces. The wheels are blow-moulded, and designed to handle uneven and rough terrain, so it could be great for a rocky allotment too.
The frame of the trug is plastic coated, to help prevent it from rusting. Within the frame sits a brightly-coloured plastic bucket, with a decent capacity of 45 litres. The bucket is self-levelling, so it’s suitable for transporting water and soil – although you will need to take it slow, and be careful not to overfill, to avoid spilling liquids.
When it comes to storing the trug, the plastic bucket is removable, and the frame can be folded, meaning it takes up very little space, compared to similar styles (it’s probably the most storage-friendly option here). The removable bucket also means it’s very easy to empty the contents.
This isn’t the most affordable option, and as with the other plastic trugs on our list, you will be sacrificing the traditional wooden look if you choose this one. But if appearances aren’t important to you, you’ll find it hard to find a more practical alternative.
- Large 45L capacity.
- Detachable bucket offers easy emptying.
- Plastic-coated frame, to prevent rusting.
- Bucket self-levels, so you can use it to carry liquid.
- Folding frame allows for easy storage.
- Blow-moulded wheels are durable, and can manage uneven ground.
- Lightweight, and suitable for elderly and disabled users.
- One of our priciest trugs.
- Bucket can be prone to unbalancing or spilling if overfilled.
- Not a traditional trug basket style.
What Is A Trug Used For?
Trug baskets have been around for hundreds of years and were traditionally used to carry grain and seed. These days, trugs are more commonly used to transport cuttings, vegetables and other produce, as well as garden tools.
Plastic trug baskets are also useful for moving compost and garden waste. Additionally, they can be used to carry water from a tap or trough to your plants, in the absence of a hosepipe.
Trugs are also gaining popularity as decorative items, to display flowers or other garden cuttings. The traditional look of willow trug baskets makes them attractive décor for rustic-themed weddings and events.
How To Make A Trug Basket
If you want to have a go at making your own trug basket, one relatively simple option is to use a table saw to cut 2 identical semi-circles of wood, approximately 60cm long, and 12cm wide – these will be the sides of your trug. Then, cut strips of wood 30cm long and 3cm wide, to form a slatted base. You will need around 20 of these.
Attach the slats to each of the semi-circular sides of your trug, using a combination of glue and nails, and leaving a small gap of approximately 1cm between each slat. Once all the slats are in place, drill a hole in the centre of each semi-circle.
Next, sand everything down, and treat the trug with a wood stain, to prolong its life. Once dry, the last step is to thread a piece of rope through the holes and tie it at each end on the inside of the basket, to keep it in place. This becomes the handle of your DIY trug basket, and within just a few hours, you have your own homemade trug basket, ready to use in the garden.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.