DIY Garden Planters

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Garden planters can add colour to a patio or grassed area without costing a fortune. You can build them to the size and shape you need and not make do with what’s available at the local garden centre or DIY store. Perhaps the biggest advantage of garden planters is the ability to move them around to suit the style and layout of your garden or yard.

They can be built using basic tools (as listed below) and you can make them from a variety of timbers, then finish them with coloured/clear wood preserve, paint or varnish. It’s entirely up to you.

As an example :-  To build a trough or rectangular planter around 2ft x 10″ (600mm x 250mm):

  • Saw a piece of sheet material, i.e. 3/4″ (20mm) plywood to  size for the planter base. If you choose decking board, again as an example for the walls of the planter, saw 4 x 2ft (600mm) lengths for the longest sides.
  • Now saw four pieces of timber to length for the ends, this measurement will be minus 2 x the thickness of the boards, therefore if the boards have a depth of 1 1/4″ (32mm), the measurement will be 10″ – 2 1/2″ = 7 1/2″ long or 250mm – 64mm = 186mm long.
  • To fix the sides together saw six pieces of  2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) from rough sawn timber, to obtain the cut length add the width of two pieces of board and subtract 1″ (25mm) , therefore if the boards are 6″ (150mm) wide cut the six pieces of timber at 11″ (275mm) long. this will keep the timbers out of sight from the surface of the planter.
  • Finally saw three pieces of the 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) rough sawn timber  10″ (250mm) long to use as feet for the planter base.
  • Use a piece of medium grade sand paper to clean up any rough edges on the cut timber, boards and plywood.

You should now have sawn to length :-

  • 1 of 2ft x 10″ (600mm x 250mm) piece of plywood
  • 4 of 2ft (600mm) long pieces of board
  • 4 of 7 1/2″ (186mm) long pieces of board
  • 6 of 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) x 11″ (186mm) long pieces of rough sawn timber
  • 3 of 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) x 10″ (250mm) long pieces of rough sawn timber

The planter can now be assembled :-

Place the four longer lengths of board on a level surface face down in pairs, position the sawn pieces of  2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) timber on them as shown below in fig 1.

fig 1
fig 1

These pieces now require fixing to the back of the boards, one piece should be in the centre, the other two should be fixed 1 1/4″ (32mm) from each end.

Use coated or galvanised screws and choose a length of screw that will not protrude through the face of the boards when fixed. In this example, I would use 4 x 2 3/4″ x 10s coated or galvanised screws for each piece of timber.

Drill clearance holes in the 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) to stop the timber from splitting.

When the sides are all fixed in position, place the assembled planter walls (top down) onto a level surface and fix the plywood base in position (see fig 2).

Drill clearance holes for the screws through the plywood in line with the six timbers that hold the planter walls together. If the plywood is 3/4″ (20mm) thick use 6 x 2″ (50mm) x 10s coated or galvanised woodscrews to fix it in place.

fig 2
fig 2

Now fix the three 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) timbers to the base (see fig 3) – one in the centre and the other two approximately 3″ (75mm) from each end. After drilling clearance holes they can be fixed in position using 9 x 2 3/4″ x 10s coated or galvanised screws.

fig 3
fig 3

The planter should have a couple of coats of wood preserver applied and the inside of the planter should be lined with thick PVC sheet to reduce water damage.

It can now be finished with whatever you wish to apply to the timber.

You can of course build your planters any shape or size you want and depending on your skill level you could create some fantastic shapes and styles at a fraction of the cost of shop bought items.

Tools required :-

  • Wood saw
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Battery drill/driver
  • Drill bits
  • Medium screwdriver