Happy Monday! We missed you last week.
As you likely recall, a few weeks ago I shared the new planter I built:
However, I didn’t actually share much about how I built it…instead I mostly talked about the disaster that occurred when I was buying the lumber for it.
Not my finest moment.
Anyway, today I’m here to tell you how I actually built it, in case you want to build one of your own (hopefully minus the damage to your car). Here’s what I used:
- Lumber (8 2×3 studs, 20 fence pickets, 2 4×8 sheets of outdoor plywood — this was the most expensive part): $62
- Stain: $6 (Minwax ebony)
- Wheels: $16 (from Home Depot)
- Lining: $10 (a simple tarp)
- Screws: Already had (I always use star-slotted screws, and needed 3″ and 1.5″ screws for this project)
I started by building the base of the frame, cutting 2×3 studs to the length I wanted for the planter (so it would just slip in between the AC unit and the side of the house) and then 3 cross pieces to create the right width:
I attached all the pieces together using 3″ screws:
Next I set my first piece of plywood up on some saw horses, and used my circular saw to cut a piece to the exact same dimensions as the frame.
Because I have a table saw and miters saw that I use for many of my cuts, I’m not as skilled with the circular saw as Naomi is — and I haven’t invested the time to make a saw guide like she has. This probably would have been a lot faster with one, but it wasn’t too bad.
Once i had my piece cut to size, I laid it on top of the frame and drove in 1.5″ screws at regular intervals to attach it.
Next, I (mistakenly) attached the wheels. If you are doing this yourself, skip this step for now — you’ll see why.
I, not thinking through the consequences, flipped the base over and attached the wheels I’d bought. I bought two locking wheels for the front and two regular wheels for the back (though once the planter is weighed down with rocks and soil, I don’t think it will be prone to moving anyway).
These were easy to just screw onto the 2×3 studs in each corner.
Next up, I wanted to drill some drainage holes in the bottom so that water will be able to escape the planter. This water will flow right onto our deck because we won’t have a formal drainage system, which will discolor that part of the deck — while this isn’t ideal, I also plan for there to be a planter there permanently, so I’m not too worried. If we ever do get rid of the planter, we can always restain the deck (which realistically we’ll need to do every few years anyway).
I just used a 1″ drill bit to drill holes at regular intervals.
Honestly I have no idea if this is enough holes. If you have expertise that suggests it isn’t, definitely let me know before I fill this thing with soil!
Next up it was time to attach the side posts. I cut 3×2 studs to length, aiming for the height I wanted my planter to be minus the height already created by the base (including the wheels). So for example, I wanted my planter to be 18″ tall, and the base and wheels were 3″ tall, so I knew I needed 15″ side posts.
This is when I realized I’d put the wheels on prematurely, because I needed to drill into the side posts from the bottom of the frame in the corner right where the wheels already were. I had to remove each wheel (or at least 3 of the 4 screws so they could swing out of the way) in order to free up the corner.
Then I used 3″ screws to drive through the bottom of the planter into the bottom of the side posts.
Lastly, I reattached the wheels.
With all four side posts in place, it was time to build the back and sides. I cut these out of plywood, clamped each one in place against the posts, and then drilled them each into the base and side posts. Here’s the back going on:
At this point I also realized I needed a cross piece along the front top and a middle post support in the front so that I could attach the fence pickets eventually. Here’s the cross piece, which I just cut from a 2×3.
Then I brought it up onto the deck to attach the trellis along the back that I had already built when I did the screening along the house foundation:
Once again my clamps came in handy — I got the screening into place and held it there with clamps while I used 1.5″ screws to drive it into the back of the planter.
Next I installed the front post along the middle using a scrap piece of 2×3. I just screwed it into through the top cross support, and didn’t bother to attach the bottom (because that would have meant flipping the planter over, which would be much more unwieldy at this point with the trellis attached). I knew that the fence pickets would hold the whole thing in place once they were screwed in, which is what I did next. Here are half of them installed:
I used screws instead of nails this time around (I used nails for the AC surround and foundation screening), because I will likely need to pull on these when moving the planter in and out and want to be sure that they’re extra secure. Frankly I may go back and add screws to some of the other screening because the nails are just much easier to pry off if someone leans on the planks at all.
Since then I completed two additional steps: staining it (and all the foundation screening) and adding the liner (aka the tarp).
For stain, I used Minwax ebony just like I did with the AC surround. Right now it looks very dark compared to the light deck, but I plan to stain the deck a pretty dark brown as well so I think it will end up tying nicely.
For the lining, I just used my staple gun to attach the tarp along each side and corner, cutting where needed to remove excess material from the corners.
Then I used scissors to cut holes in the tarp on top of where I’d drilled holes in the base for water drainage. Here’s how it’s looking now:
As you can see, I managed to drip stain everywhere. I wasn’t concerned about that at all, since when I stain the deck (which will be an opaque stain that’s actually more like paint than stain), this will disappear completely.
You may notice one other small change, which is that I painted the AC wires and electrical box. They used to look like this:
And now here they are:
I just got a quart of outdoor paint at Lowes, which I had mixed in a color that I guessed was close to the siding color. I’m actually pretty damn proud of how close I got — I didn’t bring a sample or anything (which would have been smarter), I just stared at swatches and grabbed one that I thought was the right mix of tan and gray. Apparently I am pretty in tune with my house color. That insulation around the AC wiring is in rough shape so I may replace that at some point, but in the meantime at least it blends in a lot more than before!
So here’s how it’s all looking now:
Again, I think the whole thing will tie together nicely once the deck is stained (which I am being patient about, since the longer you wait the less likely you are to have peeling due to moisture in the pressure treated lumber). Also presumably it will all look better when the grass isn’t so patchy — we’ll reseed in the fall (which is the recommended time to do it) with the hopes that it comes in fuller in the spring!
And here’s a fuller shot of how our hedge is coming along. We put it in 2 years ago this past April — it’s definitely been growing, but my understanding is that next year is when we should really expect to start seeing growth. As my mom told us, “first they sleep, then they creep, then they leap!”
It’s all progress! Sometimes I stare back at the photos of how it looked when we first planted the hedge (and we did nothing on the yard in the intervening two years since then) and am reminded that we’re definitely coming along.
(Sharing at Remodelaholic)