When the old planter fell apart after five or six years of year-round service, I was shocked when I found out how much large planters cost. Having found some wood ones at Restoration Hardware that I really liked the look of, but not the price of, we set out to create our own.
Before I get into how we did it (and how long it took us), there are a couple of things to declare right away:
- It didn’t turn out exactly how I had planned but I’m still very happy with it.
- There are things I would do differently if I were doing it again (see the bottom for those notes).
- It ended up costing way more than I expected, even though we built it ourselves.
Then we built the frame out of pressure treated 2x4s. We did simple butt joints and used galvanized mending plates to hold the boards together while we screwed them. We had the mending plates left over from when we built the raised garden, so they aren’t necessary but they made it easier. Definitely check for square when assembling the frames.
|A frame with 2x4s on the bottom serves as the base. Leave a gap between the boards for drainage and air flow.|
Next we started screwing the boards onto the frame. We positioned the bottom about three inches up from the bottom of the oak boards to allow for the cutout later. We used four 8-inch-wide boards for the front and the back. On the sides, we trimmed an inch off of two boards, to allow them to tuck in behind the full boards. We predrilled all the holes and followed with 2-inch-long stainless steel screws drilled in from the inside.
|The planter before the curves were cut. You can see that we weren’t overly worried about lining them up because we knew we’d be cutting the top and bottom.|
Once all the boards were screwed on, we did the cut-outs on the top and bottom. I used a piece of sturdy cardboard and a yardstick to make a template for the top curve. For the bottom I made a similar template, just drawing a straight line and using a glass to create the curve. Mr. Much More Patient used the jigsaw to cut out the pieces after we used the template to draw them on.
|I used a glass to create the curve for the bottom.|
|The two cardboard templates for the top and bottom curves.|
|Planter with the curves cut before adding decorative details.|
Because I didn’t want the wood touching the ground (and soaking up water), we put casters on the bottom frame. It raises the bottom just a touch, so you can’t see them there or really notice that the planter is not sitting directly on the ground unless you look closely.
|Here you can see how I completely cut the first 2 inches of the wood strip, which lays flat on the planter. Then the scored wood follows the curve. I left a small gap between the cut off and the score wood to ease it down the bend.|
|After shaping it with a rubber mallet, the corner lays flat and loses all its sharp edges.|
After letting the glue dry for a day or so, I took the edges out and hand bent them to fit the curves. Again, I used the E6000 glue on both the planter and the lead-covered wood strip and attached them. then I weighted it all down with cobblestones and bricks, just to make sure that there was good contact while the glue dried.
|I weighted down the lead strips to keep them in good contact with the planter while the glue dried.|
For the knob accent in the corners, I just used drapery rod finials from Home Depot spray painted in Rustoleum’s soft iron. I predrilled a hole through the lead trim and into the planter and just screwed them in.
|The steel insert is super sturdy and has a lot of drainage holes in the bottom. The handles on the side will help me remove it if I need to. When I planted it, I just covered those holes with paper towel to keep the dirt from falling out.|
Instead, Mr. MMP had a local steel worker build a box to our specifications, so it fit perfectly. I had handles built in to the sides to make it easier to remove and had several drainage holes (I feel pretty strongly that a large container needs more than one drainage hole) drilled into the bottom. I primed and painted it with spray paint to help protect it because it was not galvanized and therefore will rust.
And this is where any concept of this being an inexpensive project blew out the window. Although he would not appreciate me saying it, Mr. MMP doesn’t have the best hearing. So when he talked to the steel guy he thought the quote was for $50, but when he picked it up, he found out that it was actually $150. Ouch. The good news is that it will probably outlast the planter itself so we can do this all again in a few years.
So that’s how we made it. And here’s what it cost:
- White oak (not dried, rough cut): $60
- 3 pressure treated 2x4s: $9
- Stainless steel screws: $30 (we have some left over)
- Sheet lead (including shipping): $35
- Drapery finials: $20
- E6000 glue: $8
- Casters: $20
- Steel planter insert: $150
The plants are a bit dwarfed right now, but they are growing quickly (they’ve actually grown quite a bit since I took that photo) and I think soon it will be looking great.