How to Build A Planter

We're always looking to maximise growinging space at Pig Row, this is a leftover from our Drovers garden, the desire to go out and up. With that in mind we have decided to press even the smallest spaces, in this case a mere 26cm x 44cm on top of a gate post. So, we're going to show you how to build a planter. You will need:

2 x 26cm long pieces of wood (15cm wide and 2cm thick)
2 x 40cm long pieces of wood (15cm wide and 2cm thick)
3 x 26 cm long pieces of wood (you can guess how wide and thick)
2 x 26cm long pieces of wood (5cm by 5cm - any square wood will do though)
Nails or screws.
A saw.
A tape measure.
A pencil.
A hammer.
A screwdriver.
A drill with a one cm drill bit.

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Measure out all your wood beforehand. This makes it easier and means you aren't always flitting from one job to another. You may have noticed that saws have molded handles, as in the photo below. Many DIYers don't know that when the saw is placed square against the wood, as in the photo below, it gives you a perfect right angle (90 degrees). You will also notice that angle on the handle too, the sloping 45 degree one, this when placed against the wood gives you, you've guessed it, a 45 degree angle. 

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Cut all your pieces of wood to size.

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Next, nail or screw the 26cm long pieces of wood to the longer 40cm pieces of wood. You want the shorter pieces of wood to be flush to the ends of the longer pieces of wood.

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When you have nailed all four sides together, flip the box over and use the three 26cm pieces of wood to make a base, you will notice that there will be roughly a 5mm gap between the pieces of wood, this helps with drainage. You will notice that it will also make the box sturdy.

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Next nail the 5cm x 26cm pieces of wood on the base too at each end, these are the feet of the planter and will help with drainage, stopping those drainage holes from getting clogged up. You should now have a planter that looks like this...


You will notice that we used screws for the corners of the box, this is optional but we do find screws hold better on corner joints. Next you need to protect your planter, you can use wood preservative, paint or even varnish - we find yacht varnish to be the best. We have gone for a wood preservative stain. Always remember to put down card or paper before painting a planter, better to protect your paths than have that conversation for the next thirty years: 'You remember that time to stained the stonework black?' Add drainage holes before painting by drilling through the base of the planter. See below for our drainage hole configuration.


A normal wood preservative stain will dry in 2-4 hours and can be painted again. Always check the instructions on the tin though as drying times can differ from product to product. You want a minimum of two coats.

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When the planter is dry, add something heavy in the bottom, this will do several things: (1) it will provide drainage, (2) stop the planter from toppling over in high winds, and; (3) give a hernia to anyone who tries to nick it.

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Then add compost and sow seed. We've sown cut and come again lettuce in ours, and it means as we come home each evening we have a salad waiting for us in the smallest of spaces.

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Try your hand at making a planter. This planter cost us 49p, the cost of the nails. The screws we're taking from a shed we pulled down. The wood was found in a skip (we asked before we took it). The stain was leftover from the other shed and would have ended up being chucked out. So, see what you have lying around, you'd be amazed what a little make do and mend can do.


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