How to Build a Planter Box

DIY Planter Box

Bespalyi / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 5 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $50 to $75

Fresh and colorful, your plants are a valued part of your home and yard. Each plant has its own unique character. Over time, they become our friends that nourish our souls and enhance our homes. But plants deserve a better home than sitting on the ground in germination trays. Pot your plants, then elevate and show them off in a DIY planter box that you can build in less than two hours.

Basics of This Easy-to-Build DIY Planter Box

This DIY planter box is inexpensive and easy to build. It is constructed from 3-1/2-inch by 32-inch knotty pine beaded wainscot, a single two-by-four, one small piece of trim, and some plywood. If you wish, this project is also a great way to use up scrap materials that may be cluttering your yard or shop.

This planter box is long and narrow and it is mounted on four legs. It is 20 inches high, 32 inches long, and 14 inches wide. An inner shelf, disguised by the planter box's sides, can hold pots or planting trays up to a weight limit of 50 pounds.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Speed Square
  • Electric miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill and screw driving bit
  • Painter's tape
  • Hammer
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Cordless brad nailer


  • Roofing nails
  • Exterior-grade paint or stain
  • 1 12-pack 3-1/2-inch by 32-inch knotty pine beaded wainscot
  • 1 two-by-four, 8-foot
  • 1 one-by-two, 62 inches or longer
  • 3/4-inch plywood


  1. Cut the Wood

    With the electric miter saw, cut the wood for the planter box according to this cut list:

    • 8 pieces of wainscot at 32 inches
    • 8 pieces of wainscot at 14 inches
    • 4 pieces of two-by-four, each at 20 inches
    • 2 pieces of one-by-two at 31 inches each

    With the circular saw, cut:

    • 1 piece of 3/4-inch plywood at 10-1/2 inches by 31 inches
    Cut the Wood for the Planter Box
    Lee Wallender
  2. Dry-Fit the Long Panels

    Begin by constructing the two long sides of the planter box. Lay two of the 20-inch two-by-fours parallel on a flat surface. Fit four pieces of wainscot together, tongue into groove, to create a panel. Tape the panel with painter's tape to hold it together.

    Create Large Panel on Planter Box
    Lee Wallender
  3. Place the Panel on the Legs

    Rest the panel on top of the legs. On the sides, the panel should overhang by the thickness of a piece of wainscot. On top, step back the two-by-four 1 inch as a decorative effect to hide the two-by-four.

    Create Overhang of Panels on Planter
    Lee Wallender
  4. Nail the Panels to the Legs

    With the cordless brad nailer, nail the panel to the legs. Use six to eight brads/nails per leg. Repeat for the other long side of the planter box. Remove the painter's tape.


    To save time, you can lay the materials for the second leg/panel set on top of the first, completed one. The first panel will act as a ready-made template for the second panel.

    Nail Large Panel on the Planter Legs
    Lee Wallender
  5. Dry-Fit the Short Panels

    Push four of the short pieces of wainscot together, tongue into groove. Once they are tight, lay strips of painter's tape over the top to hold it in place. Repeat for the other short panel.

    Assemble Small Panel to Planter
    Lee Wallender
  6. Nail the Short Panels in Place

    Put one of the short panels at the end of the planter box. If needed, hold it together with a carpenter's clamp. With the cordless brad nailer, nail the panel into place, using about six to eight brads/nails per leg. Remove the tape. Carefully turn the planter box over and repeat on the other side.

    Nail Down Small Panel
    Lee Wallender
  7. Add Roofing Nails

    With the hammer, pound in four roofing nails per leg. For a more pleasing look, mark a light pencil line to keep all of the nails in a straight line.


    The roofing nails are added not just for their holding abilities but for their aesthetic effect. As such, you may choose to double the number of nails or use different types of decorative nails.

    Add Roofing Nails to Planter Box
    Lee Wallender
  8. Add the Shelf Rails

    Choose your desired height for the planter box's inner shelf. With the Speed Square or tape measure, mark this on each of the four legs, on the inside. With the cordless drill with a screw driving bit, add the shelf rails at these marks, two screws per rail. Repeat on the other side.

    Add Rails to Planter Box
    Lee Wallender
  9. Add the Shelf

    Place the shelf on top of the rails. Drill several 1/4-inch holes in the shelf to promote water drainage.

    Drill Shelf Holes on the Planter Box
    Lee Wallender
  10. Paint or Stain the DIY Planter Box

    The planter box can be painted or stained to any color. Since the box will be outside, use exterior-grade paint or a stain that includes weather protectant.

    Stain or Paint the Planter Box
    Lee Wallender