How to Build Tall, Wood Planters
These tall, wood planters have a slim, tapered design with a plastic planter insert to keep the soil and moisture off of the wood exterior. There is also a small insert in the bottom for drainage and for placing ballasts for those of you who share the lovely, windy weather that we enjoy regularly here in Nebraska. Plus, if you build at least a pair of them, they cost under $20 each to make!
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You can pick up most of these supplies at any hardware store. I typically stock up on items that I can order online from Amazon and pick up the rest from Menard’s or Home Depot. Below is a list of supplies I used for this project and their approximate cost from either Menard’s or Amazon. By making two planters at a time, each costs less than $20 to make. Making at least two allows you to save a lot of money on supplies. I also think these look great in pairs to border an entry or to balance an outdoor space or patio.
*Note: supplies to build two planters
The design for these tall, wood planters is very simple. The plastic planter insert is a 12″ x 12″ square, so the top of the planters fits around the outer edge of the 12″ x 12″ square and tapers down to a 9″ x 9″ square on the bottom (your measurements will add 3/4″ to fit around the planter insert, see the drawing below). Cut all of your pieces at the same time once you get the angle of your saw set. This will ensure that your taper is smooth all the way down the planter.
1. Set up your saw at a 3 degree angle and cut the pieces for your sections (see drawing for dimensions).
2. Once all of your pieces are cut, assemble each of your planter sections. I use wood glue and then hold the pieces in place with about three brad nails along each edge.
Note: The direction that you overlap your boards does not matter in terms of appearance, since there will be trim attached to the corners. However, I would recommend alternating your overlap direction between clockwise and counterclockwise as you work down the sections of the planter. This just adds a little stability to your outer trim attachment.
3. With all of your sections assembled, stack them on top of one another following the taper of the planter.
4a. With the planter sections in place, measure the height at your corners for your trim pieces (this can vary slightly with each planter, so I always wait until they are assembled to get this exact measurement).
4b. To make the trim pieces, cut your fence slat to length and then rip 8 – 1″ wide pieces at a 45 degree angle for each planter (total of 16). Attach your trim pieces to the corners of your planter with brad nails first, then add wood screws on the back side as shown in the picture below. Alternate the direction your wood screws face (into the left or right trim piece) as you attach them at each section of the planter, so that both trim pieces are held firmly in place.
5. Cut 4 – 7″ pieces from your 1 x 2 cedar board for each planter (total of 8). Center these pieces on each inside edge and offset them down from the top of the planter by 3/4″ (or the depth of the lip of the plastic 12″ x 12″ planter insert) and fasten to the planter with three wood screws.
6. This final step is optional, but I would recommend it to help keep your planters stable. I use spare plywood or whatever we have around and cut out about a 10″ square (it doesn’t have to be any perfect dimension). Then I usually drill out 5 large holes (3/4″ or so) for drainage. This part does not have to be perfect, just drill some holes for the water to quickly and easily move through (see drawing below). Then I lower these squares in the bottoms of the planters and fasten them with wood screws or several brad nails. It is a little tricky to get them level, but if you tip the planter up and adjust from the bottom, it makes it a little easier. This insert allows you to place several large rocks or weights to make the planters significantly less top-heavy, while still allowing quick drainage so that your planters don’t have standing water in them.
7. With your planters fully assembled, stain the outside with whatever color you prefer. Then seal with deck sealant to help protect them from the elements and from routine watering. You can also opt to paint your planters. I would recommend painting them with primer first to get good, even color when you paint.
Your planters are complete! Plant whatever you like in the inserts and then just place them in your planters. I would strongly suggest that you put your planters away during the winter months, as the significant changes in temperature and humidity can cause the planters to warp and weather more quickly.
Thank you for reading, enjoy!
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These tall, wood planters have a slim, tapered design with a plastic planter insert to keep the soil and moisture off of the wood exterior. There is also a small insert in the bottom for drainage and for placing ballasts.