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Raised Planter Box (Only Cost Us $5)

By Paul

May 10, 2024

Building Planter Boxes with Free Wood 

Have you ever dreamt of transforming your balcony or patio into a flourishing oasis but balked at the price tag of store-bought planters?

You're not alone!

The cost of planters can quickly multiply, especially when you envision a garden bursting with vibrant flowers or a bountiful harvest of homegrown vegetables. But what if I told you there's a way to achieve your gardening dreams without emptying your wallet?

Enter the wonderful world of free wood and DIY planter boxes!

This guide delves deep into the world of repurposed wood, empowering you to craft stunning and functional planters without spending a fortune.

We'll explore the benefits of using free wood, unearth creative ways to find your materials, and provide a detailed step-by-step process to bring your planter vision to life.

The Allure of Free Wood

There are two compelling reasons to embrace free wood for your planter project:

  • Cost Savings: Let's face it, store-bought planters can be a budget buster. Building your own with free wood allows you to bypass the hefty price tag and invest those savings in seeds, soil, and the beautiful flora you'll cultivate. Imagine the savings if you're planning a whole row of planters – it can quickly add up!
  • Environmental Stewardship: By opting for free wood, you're actively participating in the fight against waste. Instead of perfectly usable wood ending up in landfills, you're giving it a new lease on life. It's a win for your wallet and a win for the planet!

The Treasure Hunt Begins

The beauty of free wood lies in its accessibility. With a little initiative, you can unearth a treasure trove of materials waiting to be transformed into magnificent planter boxes. Here are some prime hunting grounds to get you started:

  • Urban Mining Your Own Backyard: Take a good look around your property. Do you have any old fences, decks, or sheds yearning for retirement? The weathered wood from these structures can be perfect for planters, adding a touch of rustic charm to your garden. Just be sure to remove any nails, screws, or rotting sections before construction begins.
  • The Facebook Marketplace El Dorado: In today's digital age, free resources are just a click away. Facebook Marketplace is a treasure trove of pre-loved items, and free wood is a popular offering. Keep your eyes peeled for listings in your area, particularly for cedar wood. Naturally resistant to rot and decay, cedar is an ideal choice for long-lasting planters.
  • Building a Local Network: Don't underestimate the power of community! Reach out to local fencing companies and construction contractors. Many businesses accumulate scrap wood throughout their projects. A friendly phone call or visit could land you a goldmine of free materials. You might be surprised at what they're willing to offload!

Bonus Tip: When searching for free wood, be upfront about your intended use for the materials. People are often more willing to donate wood when they know it will be repurposed into something beautiful and functional.

 Transforming Wood into Planter Perfection

Once you've unearthed your free wood bounty, it's time to unleash your inner builder! Here's a detailed roadmap to guide you through the construction process:

Step 1: Prepping the Wood for its Second Act

  • The Great Deconstruction: Before your wood embarks on its new journey as a planter, it needs some TLC. Remove any lingering nails, screws, or staples using a pry bar or hammer. This ensures a smooth and safe building experience.
  • Farewell, Rot: Inspect your wood carefully for any signs of rot or decay. Unfortunately, these sections won't be suitable for planters. Discard any unusable wood and keep only the sturdy pieces.
  • A Bath Fit for a (Future) Planter: If your wood appears dusty or grimy, give it a quick wash with a hose and a stiff brush. Removing dirt and debris allows for better adhesion when painting or staining later.

Step 2: Tailoring the Wood to Your Vision

Now comes the exciting part – transforming your wood into the perfect size and shape for your planters. Gather your measuring tape, sawhorses, and a saw (circular saw or miter saw for cleaner cuts). Here's a breakdown of the cutting process:

  • Measure Twice, Cut Once: Planter size is entirely up to your preference and garden space. Sketch a design on paper to determine the desired dimensions for the sides, bottom, and legs (if you want elevated planters). Once you're happy with the design, meticulously measure and mark the wood for cutting. Remember, measuring twice ensures clean cuts and minimizes wasted wood.
    • Safety First: When using saws, prioritize safety. Wear safety glasses, gloves, and ensure proper blade alignment. If you're unfamiliar with power tools, enlist the help of a friend or consider using a handsaw for a more controlled cutting experience.
  • Step 3: Building the Box: Where Vision Meets Reality
    With your wood pieces cut to size, it's time for the moment of truth – assembling the planter box! Here's where your creativity and chosen assembly method come into play.

    • Fast and Functional: For a quick and straightforward approach, utilize galvanized or stainless steel screws to join the wood pieces together. Pre-drill pilot holes to prevent splitting as you screw.
    • Classic and Strong: If you prefer a more traditional look, consider using nails for assembly. Choose nails with appropriate length and thickness for the wood you're using. 
    • The Power of Glue: For added stability, especially at the corners, consider using wood glue alongside screws or nails. Apply a thin layer of glue along the connecting surfaces before securing them with your chosen fasteners.
  • Step 4: Drainage: The Key to Happy Plants
    Drainage is crucial for healthy plants. Without proper drainage, excess water can accumulate around the roots, leading to rot and disease. Here's how to ensure your planters have optimal drainage:

    • Drill Some Holes: Using a drill and an appropriate drill bit size (depending on the thickness of your wood), create several drainage holes in the bottom of your planter box. Aim for even spacing to ensure proper water distribution.
    • Alternative Drainage Options: If drilling isn't feasible, consider lining the bottom of your planter with landscape fabric and stone. This fabric allows water to drain while preventing soil from escaping through the drainage holes.
  • Step 5: The Finishing Touches: Making Your Planter a Work of Art
    While functionality is key, there's no reason your planters can't be aesthetically pleasing as well. Here are some ways to personalize your creations:

    • Sanding for a Smooth Finish: For a polished look, use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges or imperfections on the wood. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper for initial smoothing and progress to finer grits for a flawless finish.
    • Staining for Depth and Protection: Staining your planter adds a touch of color and protects the wood from weather elements. Choose a stain suitable for outdoor use and apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Painting for a Pop of Color: If you prefer a vibrant look, consider painting your planter box. Opt for exterior paint designed to withstand the elements. Apply a base coat followed by additional coats for a rich and even color.
    • Let Your Creativity Bloom: Don't be afraid to unleash your inner artist! You can add decorative elements like stencils, decoupage, or even paint designs to personalize your planters and make them a true focal point in your garden.
  • Step 6: Planting Paradise: Filling Your Creation with Life
    With your beautiful planter box complete, it's time for the most rewarding part – planting! Here are some final pointers to ensure your planter thrives:

    • Lining Up for Success: Consider lining your planter box with a weed barrier fabric before adding soil. This helps prevent weeds from sprouting and stealing nutrients from your plants.
    • Filling Up with Goodness: Choose a high-quality potting mix specifically formulated for container gardening. Fill your planter with the potting mix, leaving enough space at the top for your plants and future growth.
    • Plant Power!: Select your plants based on your desired sunlight conditions and personal preferences. Research the mature size of your chosen plants to ensure they have ample space to thrive in your planters.
    • Watering Wisely: Water your newly planted containers thoroughly. Moving forward, water your plants regularly, but avoid overwatering. The frequency will depend on the type of plants, weather conditions, and drainage of your planter box.
  • Congratulations! You've transformed free wood into magnificent planter boxes, ready to bring life and beauty to your garden. With a little planning, resourcefulness, and creativity, you've built stunning planters without breaking the bank. Now, sit back, admire your handiwork, and watch your garden flourish!
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