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DIY Planter Box

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

Decorating a garden is much like decorating a room in your home—it’s nice to have pieces that are adaptable enough that you can move them around occasionally and create a completely new look. After all, most of us can’t buy new furniture every time we get tired of the way our living rooms look. And we can’t build or buy new garden furnishings every time we want to rearrange the garden.

That’s one of the reasons this trio of planter boxes works so well. In addition to being handsome —especially when flowers are bursting out of them—they’re incredibly adaptable. You can follow these plans to build a terrific trio of planter boxes that will go well with each other and will complement most gardens, patios, and decks. Or you can tailor the plans to suit your needs. For instance, you may want three boxes that are exactly the same size. Or you might want to build several more and use them as a border that encloses a patio or frames a terraced area.


Whatever the dimensions of the boxes, the basic construction steps are the same. If you decide to alter the designs, take a little time to figure out the new dimensions and sketch plans. Then devise a new cutting list and do some planning so you can make efficient use of materials. To save cutting time, clamp together parts that are the same size and shape and cut them as a group (called gang cutting).

When your planter boxes have worn out their welcome in one spot, you can easily move them to another, perhaps with a fresh coat of stain and add new plantings. You can even use the taller boxes to showcase outdoor relief sculptures—a kind of alfresco sculpture gallery.

Whether you build only one or all three, these handy cedar planters are small enough to move around your gardens and inside your greenhouse or garden shed.

Cutting List Planter Box

planter boxes diagram


  1. Cut all the wood parts to size according to the Cutting List. Use a circular saw and a straightedge cutting guide to rip siding panels (if you have access to a tablesaw, use that instead).

  2. HI06100402
    Place the end panel face down and butt it against a side panel. Mark the locations of several fasteners on the side panel. Drill counterbored 3⁄32" pilot holes in the side panel at the marked locations and fasten the side panel to the end panel with 1½" deck screws. Fasten the opposite side panel the same way. Attach the other end panel with deck screws.

  3. HI06100403ret
    Position one piece of corner trim flush to the corner edge and fasten to the panels with 1½" galvanized deck screws driven into the trim from the inside of the box. Place the second piece of trim flush to the edge of the first piece, creating a square butt joint. Attach to the panel with 1½" galvanized deck screws. For extra support, endnail the two trim pieces together at the corner with galvanized finish nails

  4. HI06100404
    Fasten the bottom trim to the end and side panels, between the corner trim pieces and flush with the bottom of the box. Drive 1½" deck screws through the panels from the inside to fasten the trim pieces to the box

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    Cut 45° miters at both ends of one cap piece using a miter box and backsaw or a power miter saw. Tack this piece to the top end of the box, with the outside edges flush with the outer edges of the corner trim. Miter both ends of each piece and tack to the box to make a square corner with the previously installed piece. Once all caps are tacked in position and the miters are closed cleanly, attach the cap pieces using 6d galvanized finish nails.

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    Screw to the inside of the end panels with 1½" deck screws. If your planter is extremely tall, fasten the cleats higher on the panels so you won’t need as much soil to fill the box. If doing so, add cleats on the side panels as well for extra support

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    Cut the bottom panel to size from ¾"-thick exterior-rated plywood. Drill several 1"‑dia. drainage holes in the panel and set it onto the cleats. The bottom panel does not need to be fastened in place, but for extra strength, nail it to the cleats and box sides with galvanized finish nails.

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    When the finish has dried, line the planter box with landscape fabric, stapling it at the top of the box. Trim off fabric at least a couple of inches below the top of the box. Add a 2" layer of gravel or stones, then fill with a 50/50 mix of potting soil and compost. Tip: Add wheels or casters to your planter boxes before filling them with soil. Be sure to use locking wheels or casters with brass or plastic housings.