These attractive plant containers are inexpensive, especially if you use scrap wood, and quick to build—you can make several in an afternoon. We built them using dimensional 1x3 foot stock (3/4 inch thick by 21/2 inches wide) cut to pattern specifications, plus the materials listed.
You will need:
• 1x3x8-foot pine or cedar (8), cut into the following lengths:
(A) 8 corner pieces, 22 inches long
(B) 16 side pieces, 14 inches long
(C) 16 side pieces, 12 inches long
(D) 2 cleats, 12 inches long
(E) 4 bottom pieces, 12 inches long
• 11/4-inch 10d galvanized nails or No. 10 zinc-plated Phillips-head wood screws (140)
• 2-inch 10d galvanized nails or No. 10 zinc-plated Phillips-head wood screws (20)
• Wood glue for exterior use
• Hand saw, jigsaw, or circular saw
• Framing square
• Hammer, screwdriver, or drill-driver
• Staple gun with 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch staples
• Heavy mil black plastic such as a contractor-grade trash bag
• Gravel or pot shards
• Clear wood preservative (with color stain, if desired)
• Decorative hardware, if desired
Step One: Cut 1x3 stock to lengths indicated above. Assemble the four vertical corners (A) with 2-inch galvanized 10d nails and water-resistant glue or 2-inch No. 10 wood screws and glue. Installing the screws with a drill-driver is easier than nailing and results in stronger joints. In either case, use at least four fasteners per corner assembly.
Step Two: Assemble two sides of the container. Fasten horizontal boards (B) to the assembled vertical corners with glue and 11/4-inch nails or screws. Fasten the top and bottom horizontal boards first, with the bottom piece raised about 1 inch from the bottom of the corner pieces. Use a framing square to ensure that the A and B pieces are square.
Step Three: Attach boards. Attach the rest of the B boards, spaced evenly, with two 11/4-inch fasteners at the end of each board. Continue to check to make sure pieces are square.
Step Four: Build the other two sides. Attach the C parts to the vertical corner assemblies with glue and 11/4-inch nails or screws.
Step Five: Attach supports. Attach two cleats (supports) (D) on the bottom of the container using either nails or screws. These cleats will support the bottom boards in the next step.
Step Six: Attach bottom boards to cleats. Set the container upright. Drop the bottom boards (E) into place and attach them to the cleats, using two nails or screws at the ends of each board. Space the bottom boards about 1/4 inch apart—that way, water will drain but gravel and pot shards will stay in place.
Step Seven: Treat wood. Brush a couple of coats of clear wood preservative on the interior and exterior of the container. If you want to change the color of the wood, look for a preservative with a color stain added or apply stain after the preservative dries. When dry, line the inside of the container sides (not the base) with plastic or sheet rubber and secure it with staples. Add decorative hardware, if desired.
Step Eight: Fill container. Fill the bottom of your container with a layer of pot shards and about 3 inches of gravel. Then add potting soil and cut away excess plastic above the soil line. If you don’t want to use plastic lining, pot shards, and gravel, simply pot your plant in an inexpensive plastic container and place it inside the wooden container. Just be sure to punch holes in the bottom of the plastic container for drainage. Your container is now ready to host a wide variety of small trees or large flowering plants.
Joe Provey is a freelance writer living and gardening in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Lars Dargaard is a designer in Arhus, Denmark.