Wooden planters can add a nice touch to the outside of your home. They're not too difficult to make, and a few planters strategically placed around the backyard would provide a whole new set of decorative options.
First, you need to determine the type and size of planter you want to make. Do you want a square one, or do you have something a little more creative in mind? The most important issues to consider are what would work best for the area where you want your planter. Do you like the natural, unfinished look, or are you planning on painting your planter to match or accentuate your home?
Once you have determined the size and style of planter you want, measure out the dimensions on a sheet of plywood or another suitable material. You can make a planter out of just about any kind of wood, but some types will hold up better than others.
Hardwoods, such as cedar, teak, or cypress hold up remarkably well to the elements, even without applying a sealant or stain. However, many hardwoods are substantially more expensive than other materials. If hardwoods are'nt your cup of tea, another option is to build your planter from plywood, particle board, or another type of inexpensive wood, such as pine. These woods will need to be painted or stained to protect them from the elements, but they are much cheaper than many hardwoods and just as easy to work with.
Remember to "measure twice, cut once", as they say. Sloppiness in this step will leave you with a planter that looks crooked and amateurish, and nobody wants that in their backyard. Be sure to exercise some care at this point; it will pay off at the end with a good-looking planter.
Once your pieces are measured and cut to the dimensions you need, use wood glue to attach the side pieces together. Be careful to line up the edges of the wood pieces carefully, and don't overdo it with the glue. You can also use some small finishing nails for additional strength. You could also use wood screws, but that would require an extra step - drilling the pilot holes for the screws. Pilot holes are necessary, especially with softer woods, because driving screws in without the hole will make your wood pieces split. Then you have to go get more wood and start over again. It's always better to take a little extra time and ensure the job is done properly.
Once the glue is dry, you can attach the bottom piece to your planter. Use nails or screws in this step, because the bottom will need to support the weight of the plant and the dirt surrounding it. When your planter is fully assembled, use whatever type of paint or stain you prefer, then let the planter sit long enough for the finish to completely dry.
One option you have at this point is whether or not to use a liner on the inside of your planter. If you want to use a liner, the simplest thing is to cut a trash bag to fit on the inside. Heavy garden trash bags are best.
Congratulations, you made your own planter! Now you can go shopping at your local greenhouse for the perfect plant. Remember to take into consideration the location of your planter. You don't want to choose a plant that will need a lot of light if your planter will be in the shade most of the time. Once you have the perfect plant, take it home and see how good it looks in your new planter. You'll be thrilled!
- Paul Travis