Build Patio Planters

  • Build Patio Planters

Make portable timber beds to grow potted plants for seasonal displays. 

These planters take the hard work out of patio or deck gardening. Instead of filling them with soil and planting each shrub separately, set potted plants directly inside. 

You can conveniently switch plants as the seasons change or move the planter to a new location without effort by unloading the pots first.

The planters are designed to fit any pot with a 275mm diameter or less and a maximum height of 250mm. 

To create the illusion of a fully planted box, you could just fill in the areas around the pots with woodchips, bark or other mulch. 

The planters were built in two sizes. All dimensions are identical except the length. The large planter is 1220mm long and the small one is 915mm.

They have 20mm diameter holes drilled in the base every 150mm to drain water and the side boards have a 5mm gap between them to ventilate the mulch and help it to dry out.

The planters can be made from new or recycled hardwood, but this will make cutting and working the timber more labour intensive, and result in a very heavy planter. 

We used treated pine for this project, which is less likely to split along the grain. Treated pine is also lighter and easier to work with, as well as being more resistant to insect attack and decay. 

Select 290 x 45mm treated pine for the legs and base with as few large knots as possible and 140 x 45mm timber for the sides and ends. 

The 115mm wide capping is cut down to size from 140 x 25mm treated pine decking boards.

Finishing the timber 

The planters can be left to weather with age and exposure or painted, stained or clear finished. We painted the legs and capping with exterior gloss paint to accent the clear decking oil finish on the sides and ends.

Step 1. Make the legs

Cut the legs to length and mark a template on plywood or MDF, cutting it out with a jigsaw. Position the template on the legs, mark the shape and cut out with the jigsaw, using 100 grit abrasive paper to round the edges.

Step 2. Cut the boards

Position the timber on support blocks to cut the box base, side and end boards to length. Align the blade of the circular saw on the cut lines and slide a speed square up against the baseplate to cut each part accurately.

Step 3. Chamfer the edges

Use a hand plane, belt sander or power planer to chamfer the outer edges of the sides and ends where they meet. Clamp the board to the workbench to stop it drifting while you plane an 8mm bevel along the edge.

Step 4. Attach the base

Align the base and sides then drill 2mm countersunk pilot holes spaced every 200mm, 20mm up from the base, securing with screws. Position the ends, drill pilot holes and secure to the base and sides with screws and adhesive.

Step 5. Secure the legs

Shim the base box up 40mm at each end and position the legs one at a time at each corner, flat on the bench with a 5mm gap at the end edge. Clamp the legs and drill pilot holes, securing with adhesive and at least four screws.

Step 6. Finish the box

Align the upper sides and clamp them flush with the legs, securing with screws. Attach the ends then drill drainage holes in the base. TIP Make sure the chamfers face each other on the outside.

Step 7. Prepare the capping

Adjust the rip fence on a circular saw to trim the 140mm boards down to 115mm. Position the capping on support blocks, with the fence against the edge of the board, and cut. Sand edges with 100 grit abrasive paper.

Step 8. Add the capping

Use a mitresaw to cut the ends of the capping with 45º mitres. Position the capping so that the inside edges are flush, securing with adhesive and nails. TIP Make sure the end caps cover the leg tops before securing in position.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of this project. Measurements are in mm.

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list for a breakdown of what materials you will need to build the patio planters.

Click on the fastener list

Click on the fastener list for a breakdown of what fasteners you need to build the planters.

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