There are a few key terms when it comes to a garden trug that are used interchangeably. You might call your garden trug a vegetable trug, a Sussex trug, a flower trug, or a traditional trug. They also come in a range of materials including plastic, metal, and wood.

They are essentially a basket intended for use with certain hobbies that include but are not limited to gardening, flower arranging, and harvesting. They are usually a sturdy vessel perfect for storing and carrying items around the garden or indoors.

Trugs have a very practical function but in modern times they are increasingly becoming a throwback to tradition. The wooden trug has a quality look and feel about it and makes a great companion for use on the allotment, when harvesting fruit and veg, carrying tools around the garden, taking flower and plant cuttings, and storing items that have a habit of being strewn around the garden and lodging themselves in bushes. It is the saviour of those who have a habit of covering their hand trowel in mud and constantly have to retrace their steps to uncover where it was last seen!

Different Styles & Materials

You might be familiar with the common plastic trug that is used heavily for collecting leaves, weeds and garden waste as people tidy their lawns and prepare for a new season.

plastic trug

They are super practical and usually quite hard wearing making them ideal for transporting garden waste to the bins or down to the local tip.

Next, we have a metal variety which I tend to link with allotment use. They are smaller in design and used as a tool store. You can have your hand tools in one side and a sandwich in the other side ready for lunch. A hardy and robust material ideal for allotment use. Store your twine, labels and other small items in it so you have everything you need when you crouch down and start digging.

Then we have wooden trugs that have exploded in popularity in recent years because they look the part, use natural materials, and depending on which you invest in have a decent capacity for carrying and storing items. The Sussex trug is a wooden basket that is made in a specific way. The main part of the trug is created with five or seven thin boards of white willow. It is hand shaved with a drawknife for a particularly smooth finish. This is what many think of as the traditional trug because it showcases artisan skills and though there are many styles the finished articles share a strong similarity.

The next popular and more widely seen design is made from wicker, or willow. The woven material provides a quintessentially British feel to the wicker trug. It has numerous names including wooden trug, rattan trug, willow trug and the most commonly used wicker trug.

This type of trug is characterised by the large sturdy handles that attached across the full width.

wooden trug handles

They can have a flat base or a curved base. You might prefer a curved base for harvesting fruit and vegetables so they naturally roll towards the centre as you pile your bounty high. A flat base could increase capacity and store long flower stems or hand tools more easily.

The wicker trug is porous giving fruit and veg space to breathe. It is also incredibly strong and it a naturally looking addition to garden accessories. It is also the ideal companion for trips to the farm shop.

What Are The Origins of The Garden Trug?

It is believed that the trug originated in Sussex hence the term Sussex trug which we briefly discussed earlier. In its early days the word trug meant the wooden hand-made basket that is constructed using the Sussex approach. They were made from chestnut and willow for the body with copper nails used to avoid rust.

As is commonly accepted if trugs did originate in Sussex they have been made for over two centuries though the exact moment of creation is difficult to narrow down to an exact date. The word trug comes from the Anglo-Saxon word trog which translates as boat- shaped article or wooden vessel. They were used then as measures for scooping grain.

As this article has demonstrated the trug has evolved and many gardens will contain plastic and wooden trugs, used for different tasks. You may also have more than one wooden trug if you like one with a flat base for flower cutting and another for harvesting fruit and veg with deep sides. Whatever companion you choose in the garden know that you have something that harks back to Anglo-Saxon times and will be likely easing our workloads for centuries to come.