How to Make a DIY Concrete Planter

DIY large and small plant containers on metal outdoor table next to glass of water

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 12 hrs - 1 day
  • Yield: 1 concrete planter
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Cement accents are gaining popularity as more people work to create calming, organic modernism-inspired spaces complete with natural elements. A greenery-filled cement planter is the perfect accent to complement the muted color palettes and functional decor pieces often seen in organic modern homes. But even if you adhere to a different design style (or don’t adhere to one at all), a cement planter will fit in well, adding a modern touch to your space. Make your own DIY cement planter with a few simple supplies.


You can find bags of cement mix at your local hardware store. Portland cement is a commonly-used type of cement that will work for this project.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Pliers


  • Cement mix
  • Water
  • Concrete release spray or canola oil
  • 1 large plastic container or paper carton
  • 1 small plastic container or paper carton
  • Latex gloves


Materials and tools create a DIY plant container

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  1. Prep Any Plastic Containers

    If you’re using plastic containers instead of paper cartons to make your DIY cement planter, you need to prep them beforehand. Either spray concrete release spray or lightly soak a paper towel with canola oil and coat the inside of your larger container and the outside of your smaller one, making sure to oil up every inch. This will prevent the cement from sticking to (and ruining) your container after the cement dries. 

    You don’t need to prep your larger paper carton like this because you won’t be releasing it from the cement at all—you can simply tear the paper carton off of the cement. Plastic containers don’t work that way, unless you’re using something very flimsy.


    Oil or use concrete release spray on the outside of your inner, smaller container no matter its material to make the removal process easier and less messy.

    Concrete release spray applied to inside of plastic buckets for DIY plant container

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Mix Cement and Water

    Don your latex gloves and start mixing cement in your 5-gallon bucket. Follow the instructions on your bag of cement to get the right ratio. Start by mixing equal parts cement mix and water. If it looks dry, add more water. Add more cement mix if it looks especially wet. Keep mixing until you have a thick but slightly viscous consistency, almost like brownie batter.

    Cement mix and water placed in large orange bucket for mixing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Pour Cement Into Container

    Pour your cement mixture into your larger container, whether you’re using a plastic container or paper carton. If you’re using a plastic container, make sure it’s oiled before pouring the mixture in.

    Cement mixture poured into large plastic container

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Place the Smaller Container Inside

    Insert the smaller container (with an oiled outside) inside the larger one so that it’s smack dab in the middle of the cement you just poured in. This will make the hole where your plant will go once the cement is dried, so push your small container in until it reaches the desired depth. Do not push it all the way to the bottom.

    Smaller plastic container placed in cement mixture in large bucket

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Weigh Down the Small Container

    If you don’t weigh down your small container, it could slowly rise to the top and leave you with no room for your plant. Weighing it down is crucial. You can either pour water into the container to weigh it down or use things like rocks and stones. Make sure it’s not so heavy that it will push the container further down into the cement, but just enough to keep it in place as the cement dries.

    Large rocks placed in small container to weigh down while in cement dries

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Let the Cement Dry

    Check the instructions on your cement mix for the appropriate drying time for your cement. In general, allow between 12 and 24 hours for the cement to dry. Before moving forward, make sure it’s completely dry and won’t crack when you remove the containers.

    Cement mixture placed in sunlight to air dry

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  7. Remove the Containers

    Once the cement is fully dry, you can start to separate the containers and the cement. If you used a paper carton as your container, you can simply peel it away. The oil you prepped your plastic container with should allow it to slide out relatively smoothly to reveal the finished shape of your DIY cement planter. If needed, use scissors and pliers to separate the cement and containers.

    Cement planter removed from plastic container

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  8. Sand Down Your Planter

    Use sandpaper to sand down your planter if it feels or looks rough. Sandpaper or a sanding block can also help get rid of excess cement fragments. Smooth the edges of your planter to your liking. If you’re going for a more organic look, you’ll probably need less sanding. More sanding is required for more sleek, modern vibes.

    Cement planter exterior smoothed out with sanding paper

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  9. Add Greenery and Display

    The structure of your planter is now finished! All that’s left to do is fill it with your favorite plants and put it on display for all to see. Pretty much any plant you nestle into your DIY cement planter will look stunning, but succulents look especially great. If you’re filling yours with a plant that needs drainage, drill into the concrete to create a few drainage holes.

    Plant with purple petunia flowers placed inside DIY plant container

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Place your DIY cement planter wherever it makes sense for you, whether that’s outside on your patio or in your living room.