How to Build a Garden Planter: Step-by-Step Instructions

Garden planters add dimension, color, texture and interest to a garden landscape. It’s also a great way to garden when you have minimal space to do so. Garden planters work well on decks, porches, patios, apartment landings or in place of flower beds. The main difference between building a large garden planter and a small one is structure. The larger planter needs more structure, due to the weight it is expected to hold after it is filled with soil and plants. This is especially true if the planter is relocated with its contents. This project is a delight to complete for anyone with minimal carpentry skills.

Supplies and Tools Needed:

*1-by-8-inch cedar or redwood boards
*Measuring tape
*1 1/2-inch, rust-resistant screws
*1/2-inch, rust-resistant screws
*Drill and attachments

How to Build a Garden Planter: Step-by-Step Instructions
How to Build a Garden Planter: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Calculate the size garden planter needed. It may be necessary to go to the yard, deck or patio and measure the area where the planter will reside. Measure the length and width. Also consider the height of the planter. Eight inches is a good height for annuals or short perennials. However, larger shrubs will require a deeper planter and wider lumber. For the purpose of these instructions, the garden planter will measure 1 foot wide and 4 feet long.

Step 2

Cut two boards for the front and back of the planter. Use your electric circular or jig saw. You can use a hand saw, but it requires more care in cutting straight lines. These two boards should be identical in length, 4 feet.

Step 3

Cut two boards, 8 1/2 inches each, for the sides of the planter. They are cut 1 1/2 inches shorter than the final outside planter measurement, as the width of the lumber is actually 3/4 inch, not 1 inch.

Step 4

Create a rectangular frame, with the lumber pieces you cut. . Place the longer boards, on the edges, in a parallel manner. Place a shorter, 8 1/2 inch board at each inside end of the longer ones, across.

Step 5

Use the drill and screwdriver drill attachment, along with 1 1/2-inch screws, to connect the rectangular frame together. Use four to six screws at each top-end of the longer boards. Screw in through the top of the longer board and into the side-edge of the shorter boards.

Step 6

Measure around the outside of the wood planter frame. Mark the plywood with those measurements, which will be approximately 1 foot wide and 4 feet long. Cut along the marking lines.

Step 7

Place the plywood over the top of the wood frame. Attach it to the frame by driving in a screw every few inches, through the plywood and into the frame.

Step 8

Place L-brackets on the inside of the garden box along the 90-degree angles where the frame meets the plywood. Attach the brackets with 1/2-inch screws about every 8 to 12 inches across the bottom of the large garden box. This must be done on both inside, sides of the box. If you are building a smaller garden planter, you may omit the use of L-brackets

Step 9

Attach a round drill bit to the drill and drill holes, at random, in the bottom plywood. This will allow excess water to drain after planting and watering. This is an importat last step in keeping the plants healthy. Excess water puddled at the root end can cause root rot and/or diminished growth.


*Apply exterior paint or sealer after the large planter is built, if you desire. This will improve the longevity of the wood.

*You may pre-drill holes where the screws will attach the cut boards together, if you find it easier.

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