How to make a planter

by Rhiannon James

Big containers have many advantages over smaller ones: they can be used for a wider range of plants; they need watering less often and they make more of an impact. The downside is they’re expensive. You can have big planters without the price tag though if you make them yourself. Wooden containers are fairly straightforward to build and you’ll be able to make them in exactly the right dimensions to fit your space.

Things you’ll need

We’ve made a container that’s approximately 90cm (3ft) long, 40cm (16ins) wide and 25cm (10 ins) high – but you can use the same method to make a container of any size (just adjust the measurements for the wood).

1. An assortment of wood:

For the frame and feet: 3 metres of 5cm x 3cm timber batten

For the sides: 4 lengths of 180cm x 13cm feather edge fencing boarding

For the base: 4 lengths of 100cm x 12cm tongue-and-groove floor boarding

2. Galvanised round head nails (40mm long)

3. Galvanised metal fixing band (20mm wide)

4. A tape measure

5. A hand saw

6. A pad saw – this isn’t essential

7. A hammer

8. A drill

9. A drill bit to match the size of the drainage holes you want to make in the base of the container

9. A screw driver

10. Six 60mm screws

There will be some materials left over which could be used to make more containers.


Step 1

First, work out the length, width and height of the container you want to make. Then cut out all the pieces of wood you’ll need apart from those to make the base (our measurements are for a container that’s approximately 90cm (3 ft) long, 40cm (16 ins) wide and 25cm (10 ins) high):

4 x front and back panels (ours are 90cm long) – using the feather edge fencing boarding

4 x side panels (ours are 40cm long) – using the feather edge fencing boarding

3 x feet supports (these should match the width of your container so ours our 40cm long) – using the timber batten

Step 2

To make the front of the container, start by nailing one of the front panels to the bottoms of two frame uprights using one nail at each end. Check that the edges of the panel are square with those of the frame uprights. Then put in two more nails at each end.

Step 3

Add the second front panel, making sure it overlaps the first and nail it into place in the same way.

Step 4

Mark the centre of the front section you have just made. Then, slide the third frame upright into place. Secure with three nails along its length.

Step 5

Repeat steps two to four to make the back section of the container.

Step 6

Turn your front section on end and nail the first side panel into the bottom of the frame upright. Make sure you position this panel so the overlap will match the front and back of the container. Next, nail this side panel to the back section as well. Then attach another side panel so it overlaps the first to make three complete sides.

Step 7

Turn the container round and nail two more side panels to the two uprights at the other end to complete the final side.

Step 8

Lay the container down flat, making sure the thickest edge of the boarding is facing up towards you [PIC 2884]. Then measure and cut the tongue-and-groove boards you’ll need to make the floor. Secure the first piece into position by nailing it into both the uprights and the panels – space the nails about 10 to 15cm apart. Then add another board, slotting it into the one before. Make sure it’s all square before you nail it down. Repeat until you get to the final board which will probably need to be cut to width as well as length.

Step 9

Next, take the three pieces that will form the feet. Put one at each end of the container’s base and one in the middle and screw them into place. You can make the corners of the container neater by using a pad saw to cut down the protruding ends of the side panels, following the curve of the container.

Step 10

Nail one end of a piece of galvanised strapping to the top of a frame upright using two nails. Then, turning the container on its side and keeping the strapping flat and straight, nail the other end at the bottom of the container and again under the foot. Repeat at the other end of the container and in the middle.

Step 11

Finally, drill some holes into the base of the container for drainage. If you want to, you can also paint the container with non-toxic timber preservative to extend its life. To prevent leaching from the wood into the soil, you can line the container with plastic – just remember to punch holes in it for drainage (aligned with the holes in the base of the container). And then you’re done!

(We couldn’t resist making another, larger version)




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