The only way is up: make your own wall planters
by Rhiannon James
If you’re short on outdoor space, why not free up your floor by taking your gardening vertical. Wall planters take up hardly any room, will brighten up a boring fence or wall and used en masse will create a striking effect. Ready-made wall planters are available to buy, but it’s quick and easy to build your own, and you can make them in any style you like.
We’ve used zinc pots to create our planters, for a contemporary look, but you could also experiment with other metal or plastic containers. Large tins would work, or for a quirky look, you could try brightly coloured mixing bowls or jugs.
Stuff to get (to make 6 planters)
1. 3 x 21cm zinc pots. The exact size of the planters is not that important for this project so slightly larger or smaller pots will work just as well. Make sure though, that each container has two vertical seams (i.e. the planter has been created by soldering two halves together). If you’re using plastic containers however, there’s no need to worry about this, as plastic is much easier to cut through.
2. A length of wood baton – we used 12mm x 50mm softwood PSE (planed squared edge). The exact length you need depends on how many planters you are making – allow around 400mm per planter.
3. A gap-filling adhesive for outdoor use such as No More Nails Exterior.
4. Small screws and rawl plugs (to attach the planters to your wall).
5. Plastic pots to fit inside your wall planters (we used 12.7cm diameter pots).
Tools you’ll need
1. Side cutters that can cut metal
2. A tin opener
3. A hand saw
4. A pencil
5. An electric drill, a small masonry bit and a small wood bit
7. Flat nose pliers
The process is the same for each wall planter so simply repeat the steps below for each one.
Make the wall planter
1. Use your tin opener to remove the bottom of the pot.
2. At both seams, cut through the top and bottom lips of the pot using your side cutters. This can be a bit tricky to do if you’re using small side cutters – if you’re struggling, try cutting into the metal and then gently rocking your cutters up and down as this should ease them through the metal.
3. Once you have cut through the top and bottom lips, you need to gently prise open the two seams, where the two halves of the pot are held together, using a flat head screwdriver.
4. Now your pot has been separated into two halves, it’s important to flatten any frayed metal or sharp edges using your flat nose pliers. If you’re using a plastic container, omit these first four steps and simply cut your container into two halves using a saw.
5. Next, you need to cut two pieces of wood: a back piece to attach the planter to the wall and a shelf to support the inner plastic pot. Use one of your metal half-pots to mark out the required shapes to cut. For the back piece, mark out the inner diameter of the half-pot on your baton. To mark out the shelf, stand the half-pot upright on top of the baton and draw around the inside edge.
6. Then, cut out both pieces using your hand saw. Cutting the shelf is more difficult than the back piece because it’s curved. Try cutting out the shelf using four straight cuts –make two cuts from each end of the curve to the other side of the baton, following the line you have drawn as closely as you can.
7. Use the gap-filling adhesive to stick the back piece to the half-pot. Apply a good dollop of adhesive to each end of the back piece and then gently push it into place. Just make sure the top of the back piece is level with the top of the half-pot and that the back edge of the back piece is flush with the edges of the pot. This should mean that the wood will not be visible once your plants are in place and the planter will sit flat against the wall.
8. Once you have attached the back piece, take the shelf and apply a generous amount of gap-filling adhesive to each end. The position of your shelf will depend on the size of the inner plastic pots you are going to use – we attached our shelf about 30mm up from the base of our metal half-pot. Gently push the shelf into place and leave the adhesive to dry. It’s best to leave the planter resting on its front so the shelf does not sag while the glue is setting.
Installing the wall planter
1. Drill a small hole in your planter’s back piece using the small wood bit.
2. Position your planter on the wall and then use a pencil to mark through the hole you have just drilled.
3. At that spot, drill a hole in your wall using the masonry bit – you’ll need to drill a hole that’s about 40mm to 50mm deep, depending on the size of your rawl plug.
4. Push a rawl plug into the hole you’ve made and screw your planter to the wall.
5. Squeeze a plastic pot into the planter so it’s resting on the shelf and is not visible above the upper lip, and plant up as normal.