How to make a wooden outdoor planter

Container gardens are popular for many reasons. They are easy to maintain, attractive and can be relocated to various parts of the home landscape. Wooden containers add a touch of elegance to any patio or deck area. Placed on either side of any entrance, wooden planters make inviting garden greeters. Locate your planter where it will receive the appropriate amount of light. Constructing a wooden planter box requires some previous building and power tool experience.

Cut four 1-by-1-inch boards to measure 24 inches long. Place these boards flat on a level working space. Arrange the four boards parallel to each other, leaving a 6-inch space between each one. Adjust the boards so they are perfectly in line with each other.

Cut a piece of plywood, measuring 24 inches square. Make the cuts as straight as possible. Drill four, 3/8-inch holes that are evenly spaced in the plywood piece. This is the bottom of the planter, so the holes will help with water drainage.

Position the plywood bottom over the four 1-by-1 boards. Adjust the bottom so that it fits on the boards properly. Screw the plywood to the boards with wood screws.

Cut sixteen 2-by-4-inch boards, each one measuring 24 inches long. These are the boards to form the side of the planter.

Place four of the 2-by-4-inch boards on their sides and arrange them to form a square. The ends of the boards should overlap each other, forming a perfect 24-inch square. Screw the structure together. Repeat with the remaining 2-by-4 pieces to create three more squares.

Position the first square on top of the plywood bottom. Adjust the square until it is in line with the plywood, without overlapping the sides.

Place the second square carefully over the first, being careful not to knock the first square out of alignment. Adjust as needed.

Cut four 2-by-2-inch boards measuring 16 inches long. Place one of the 2-by-2 boards in the corner of the two stacked squares, sticking up into the air. Position the board tightly in place so it fits in the corner. The board should be sticking up above the side squares by 8 inches. Screw the side in place by screwing through the side squares and into the board, using wood screws. Repeat to install the three remaining 2-by-2 boards.

Slide the third side square over the 2-by-2 boards and on top of the other side squares. Screw this square to the four 2-by-2 boards in each of the corners. Repeat to install the last side square.

Sand the planter lightly to remove any rough edges. Paint the outside of the planter with outdoor wood stain. This will protect the wood from weather and give the planter a warm and finished look.

Line the planter with plastic lining before putting in the dirt to protect the wood from rot.

Fill the bottom of the planter with 2 inches of gravel. The gravel will promote water drainage and keep the plants healthy. Fill the remaining space in the planter with soil appropriate for the plants that will occupy the planter. Ask an assistant to help you place the planter in desired location.


Make two planters and set them on either side of a doorway.


Wear safety protection when operating power equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-by-1 inch wooden boards
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • Pressure-treated plywood
  • Drill with 3/8 inch drill bit
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • 2-by-4 inch boards
  • 2-by-2 inch boards
  • Sander
  • Outdoor wood stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Gravel
  • Plastic lining
  • Soil
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About the Author

Susan Patterson is a health and gardening advocate. She is a Master Gardener, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and a Certified Health Coach with vast experience working with organic gardening and nutrition. Her passions include sustainable living, organic foods and functional fitness. Patterson has been writing and presenting on health and gardening topics for 10 years.