Patsy Bell Hobson is a freelance writer gardening in southeast Missouri. Her garden is about to burst into the “What was I thinking?” stage.

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Garden Mailbox
by Patsy Bell Hobson       #Tools

A green mailbox blends right into the garden environment.

The Tiny Tool Shed

Pruners are handy when you just have a small job that is not worth a trip to the garage or garden shed.

Plant a mailbox in the garden and you can keep garden tools in the garden, right where you need them.

When the old mailboxes were replaced in the neighborhood, they were recycled into small “onsite garden storage units.” The garden mailbox is a good gathering place for storing garden tools and accessories. It could save you endless trips to the shed or garage for a garden tool.

As a reference point, the typical mailbox mounting height is between 40-44 inches, according to the United States Post Office. But you can place your mailbox toolbox as high or a low as you choose.

Choose a site for your mailbox post. Then call the utility companies to make sure it is safe to dig in that spot. Find your state's "One Call" number — check online, in the front of a phone book or call 811, the national Call Before You Dig number to call before digging. (See sidebar.)

Multitasking Mailboxes

If the right garden tool is handy, it's more likely that the task will be completed. This time of the year, you should always keep a ball of garden twine and pruners in the mailbox so you can keep control of those unwieldy tomato vines.

Add a hose hanger onto the sturdy mailbox post. Include a cup hook if you drink your morning coffee in the garden. Keep hand tools inside the mailbox and you can lean long handled tools against the post.

Let the mailbox be the sturdy support that tall or wispy flowers will need. Circle the mailbox post with hollyhocks for example. Circle the plants with garden twine and anchor them to the post.

Make the mailbox yours by painting it a favorite color. You can also install a flag holder. Or perhaps you can build a mini raised bed or flower box around the base. Or add a windsock or weather vane to the post. Attach a rain gauge and create your own mini weather station.

Accessorize the mailbox by adding personal touches like this rain gauge.

The little lizard was originally a drawer pull from the hardware store.
Call Before You Dig

Before digging deeply to install your “mailbox mini tool shed,” call the local underground utility locators. One phone call to 811, the national Call Before You Dig number (or visit the websites listed below), will kick off the process and get underground utility lines marked. Local One Call Center personnel will then notify affected utility companies. They will send local crews to mark underground lines for free.

Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc. — 811 or (800) 242-1776,

Ohio Utilities Protection Service —811 or (800) 362-2764,

Missouri One Call System 811 or (800) 344-7483,

Indiana 811 — 811 or (800) 382-5544,

In all other states, visit

Curious about those colorful stripes they spray paint on the yard? Follow this color code translation to learn what is buried underground.

Red – Electric
Orange – Communications, Telephone, Cable TV
Blue – Potable Water
Green – Sewer/Drainage
Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line
Purple – Reclaimed Water
White – Premark site of intended excavation

Installing the Post

Materials needed:

Gloves and safety glasses
One pressure treated wood mailbox post (4 by 4 inches)
5-gallon bucket
Measuring pail
Posthole digger
50 pounds of all-purpose gravel
50 pounds of Quikrete fast-setting concrete

1. Dig the posthole about 12 inches wide. The depth of the hole should be 1/3 the post height above ground (for example, a 6-foot-tall post would require a hole depth of at least 2 feet).

2. Add about 6 inches of gravel into the bottom of the hole. Then, compact it to level the gravel.

3. Set the post into the hole. Use a level to position the post perfectly upright.

4. Fill hole (with the post in place) with the 50-pound bag of fast-setting concrete. Fill up to 4 inches below ground level.

5. Pour a gallon of water into the hole. Water will saturate the concrete mix. The post will be set hard in 20 to 40 minutes.

6. Wait for at least 6 hours, (overnight is better) before adding the mailbox to the post.


Photos courtesy of Patsy Bell Hobson.


Posted: 06/16/14   RSS | Print


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