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Put some life into your garden furniture: Pt 2

by Rhiannon James

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Furniture featuring living plants has been a big hit at design shows in the last few years but you don’t have to splash out to get in on the trend.

Using just a few simple materials, you can make this sleek side table which is perfect for squeezing a little extra greenery into a modern outdoor space.

Stuff to get

1. A top for your table – we used a small wooden chopping board but you could try anything from a plastic tray to a polished piece of wood.

2. A metal table leg with a fixing bracket at the top. Many DIY retailers sell individual table legs – we used a steel one (32mm in diameter) from Homebase.

3. Small screws or bolts to attach your table top to the table leg.

4. A large plant pot, the bigger the better. We used a ceramic pot, 275mm in diameter.

5. A small amount of concrete (we used about five litres) – aim for about two parts sand, four parts gravel and one part cement. Try to keep the mix as dry as possible – this will minimise shrinkage cracks and help to hold the leg in place as the concrete sets.

6. Horticultural grit

7. Compost

8. Plants – we used four small ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora) and planted ivy between them.

Tools you’ll need

1. Screwdriver

2. Equipment for mixing your concrete – we used a bucket and a stirring stick

3. Trowel

4. Scissors

5. Small spirit level or plumb bob

6. Tape measure

7. Electric drill and a ceramic drill bit (if you’re using a ceramic pot)

Step by step

1. Mix the concrete – this will be used to fix the table leg in position inside the plant pot.

2. If your pot has holes in its base you may want to cover these with a few sheets of paper so that the concrete, when you add it, doesn’t fall through.

3. Pour the concrete into the pot (to a depth of at least 100mm) and tamp it down so the surface is roughly level.

4. Hold the table leg so it’s in position in the centre of the pot and then push it through the concrete until it’s touching the pot’s base. If the concrete is not too wet, your table leg should then stand up vertically without support. Use a tape measure to check that the leg is in the centre of the pot and a spirit level or plumb bob to check that it’s vertical –if it isn’t, adjust it gently. Then tamp down the concrete again to make sure it’s packed tightly around the leg, with no gaps.

5. If your leg does not stand up vertically on its own, you will need to find a way to hold it in place while the concrete sets. One way to do this is to get a length of wooden baton, place it across the top of your pot, adjacent to the leg, and fix it in place with sticky tape at either end. Then, bind the table leg to the baton so it’s held in the correct position.

6. Once you’re happy that the table leg is in position and the concrete is packed tightly around it, leave the concrete to set – ideally for at least two to three days. If after the first casting, your table leg is still a little bit wobbly you can always add a second (thinner) layer of concrete as long as there will still be enough room in the pot for your plants.

7. When the concrete is fully set, you can attach the table top. If you’re using a wooden top that’s more than 12mm thick, you can use screws (just make sure that the screws are not too long or they’ll pierce through the surface of the table top) but if you’re using a thin or plastic top, you’ll need to use small bolts.

8. Drill at least two drainage holes in the side of your pot just above the top of the concrete.

9. Cover the drainage holes with pieces of broken flower pot to prevent them from becoming blocked and then add a layer of gravel.

10. Add the compost and plant up the pot.

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