Want to upgrade the look of your outdoor space without breaking your budget? Love the look of wooden planters but hate the expensive price tag? These DIY planters are the perfect weekend project that can be customized for your exact style and only cost $36 to make.
For this project, I decided I wanted a larger tapered planter for the top of my driveway to add a little color to the front of my house. These plans will build one 24.5″ tall planter that is 14.75″ wide at the top. You can modify this plan to fit your specific needs by scaling up or down. I would recommend that you buy the plastic pot that is going to go inside the planter first to make sure you are building the wooden planter in the right dimensions.
DIY Garden Planter
Active Time: Half a day
Total Time: 2 Days (depending on how you decide to finish your planter)
- (5) 1″x4″x8′ Common Boards
- 12″ Plastic Square Pot (make sure it has a lip to it)
- 1.5″ 18 Gauge Brad Nails
- 1″ 18 Gauge Brad Nails
- Wood Glue
- Finish of Your Choice
- Router Saw
- Nail Gun
- Table Saw
- All applicable safety equipment per manufacturer recommendations
The first step is to cut all the side pieces. Since my planter is 24.5 inches all, I need 7 pieces on each side. Each board is tapered on the side by 5° so I would suggest cutting all 4 pieces for each layer at once to make sure you get a consistent cut. The easiest and quickest way I found to do this was to cut your first piece to the size you want it, then put a stopping block on your router fence to ensure each board was the same size. Then I just made the cut on my router saw at a 5° and flipped the board for the next cut. This made it really easy since you didn’t have to measure between cuts or adjust the saw. Your boards should look like this:
To make the next layer, just line up your wood to the completed board (line up will be easy since the edges should both be 5°) and mark the next cut with a straight edge. Repeat this until all your layers are cut.
Now you need to build each complete layer. For this you just take all 4 side piece and glue them together and secure with a nail gun and 1.5″ 18 gauge brad nails. This part can be slightly frustrating since the slight angle makes it a little difficult to keep the boards steady while nailing but once you do it a couple times it goes pretty quickly.
Now you are ready to stack the layers together.
Once you confirm that it is the height that you want and all the pieces stack together properly, it’s time to glue the layers together. This not only adds stability to the planter but it will make it easier to put the corner pieces on next. I started with the bottom layer on a couple scrap 2x4s to make it easier to clamp the layers together at the end.
While this dries it is time to make the corner pieces. The corner pieces are going to not only make the final product look great, but will also add feet to the planter which will limit the amount of the planter exposed to the ground directly. For the legs I used the same wood as the body of the planter and cut it in half lengthwise on my table saw with the blade at a 45°. I then cut the wood down into (8) 26.5″ pieces.
Once I’ve sanded down the pieces, it is time to put them together. Just take two of the pieces and fit the 45° angles together at the corner. Then add glue and secure with 1″ finishing nails. Repeat this step until all the legs are constructed.
Now, since everything is being cut at and angle you might find that not all of your pieces have a perfect seam where the two pieces meet. This might not be a big deal depending on how you finish your piece, but if you are leaving it unfinished or using stain, that gap may bother you. I know gaps like this will bug me because I know they are there. Here is a quick and easy trick to fix it:
Add a little wood glue to the uneven seam. Sand the wood at the seam, the wood shavings and the glue will mix together to fill the gap. Once the glue has dried completely sand down any excess glue and the gap is gone! (Sometimes you will still have a smaller gap if the original gap was on the larger side, you can just repeat the process until it is completely gone).
Once you are happy with the way your legs look, it’s time to complete the final step of construction. Since the planter’s sides are tapered, the legs need to be cut at an angle at the bottom so they sit on the floor evenly. To do this simply set your table saw at a 5° and with the point of the leg facing up, trim the bottom of the leg. Once you do this with all the legs, make sure they are all the same exact length so the planter has no chance of wobbling once the project is done.
Now that you have the legs and the body of the planter built, it’s time to sand everything before you assemble. Once everything is sanded, you simply line up the top of the planter with the top of the leg (make sure it is the side that doesn’t have the 5° angle) and glue in place, then secure with more finishing nails. Wipe off any excess glue.
While that is drying it’s time at cut the finishing trim for the top of the planter. For this I used the extra scraps from our wood that was 1.5″ wide wood that was 16″ long. I then lined it up on the top of the planter, securing with wood glue and finishing nails. Be careful on this step with the nail gun since the planter is at an angle so you don’t have nails coming through the sides of your planter.
The final step for assembly is to add bracers to the inside of the planter that will hold the plastic pot. I decided I wanted to add smaller supporting bracers to longer pieces of wood that would go across the whole planter length, so when the pot was in there would be no visible gaps. To do this I took 4 pieces of 1.5″ x 8″ wood and installed them 3″ down from the top of the planter. To make sure I was getting it exactly even all the way around I used a scrap piece of 3″ wood. For installation I simply added a little wood glue and secured with finishing nails.
Once this is done I used 1″ x 8″ strips that I nailed into the bracers to make the ledge the planter will sit on. Once this is done you can add the pot into the planter. Keep in mind depending on what pot you picked for your project that the dimensions of the ledge could be different based on what height you want to the pot to be at so make sure to double check the dimensions before you cut.
Once that is completed you are ready to finish the planter however you like. Make sure no matter what you seal the planter with some kind of waterproofing protective finish so you don’t have to worry about the wood rotting over time if they would be exposed to moisture.
For my planter I used 2 coats of Rust-oleum premium indoor/outdoor navy latex paint, then sprayed the planter with Krylon Colormaxx satin bright white indoor/outdoor paint. Once that dried I lightly sanded the planters to have to blue come out, giving it an aged look. I then sealed the planter with 2 coats of Thompson’s WaterSeal multi-surface clear waterproofer. That’s it, now you can enjoy your planter for years to come for a fraction of the retail price!
Disclaimer: Please make sure with all your projects that you have read your equipment’s safety manual and are following the recommended safety precautions. We are not responsible for the results of your DIY projects as results can vary based on your skill level, quality of materials, and age of your equipment.