How to Build a Garden Container


Garden containers play many roles in a garden. They serve as boundaries separating one garden room from another, they allow a gardener to plant on decks and patios near to the house, they make great gifts and, as the editors of the Sunset "Woodworking Projects" point out, a large wood planter with a single shrub "can become a striking landscape element." This wood container will work for a large shrub, such as a rhododendron or witch hazel; a single small tree like a dwarf lemon; or for an assortment of colorful annuals or herbs.

Step 1

Cut the sides, bottom and corner braces of redwood, pine or another softwood in the dimensions indicated in the "Things You'll Need" section. A table saw is convenient, but not required since you have only a limited number of cuts to make.

Step 2

Rout or use a dado saw blade to create a ½-by-½-inch rectangular groove, approximately 4 inches from all sides, on each of the four 2-by-10-inch panels. This an optional step to add decorative interest to the planter box.

Step 3

Drill five ¾-inch holes through the bottom piece for drainage.

Step 4

Nail the four sides together with the ends of the sides abutting each other.

Step 5

Nail the four corner posts to each corner for added support.

Step 6

Attach the bottom to the sides by placing the sides upside down and nailing on the bottom piece.

Step 7

Seal the joints of the box on all sides and the bottom to prevent seepage from the sides.

Step 8

Paint or stain the box to the finish you desire. Leaving the wood unfinished is a common treatment for wood planters, but painting, stenciling a design or staining are possibilities as well.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-10-inch rough-cut 2-inch redwood or other softwood, 20 inches long, 4 pieces
  • 2-by-2-inch rough-cut redwood or other softwood, 4 pieces
  • 20-by-20-inch rough-cut 2-inch redwood or other softwood
  • Saw
  • Router or dado saw blade (optional)
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • 30 galvanized nails
  • Joint sealant
  • Paint (optional)
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • Varnish or oil finish (optional)
  • Brush (optional)


  • "Sunset Woodworking Projects"; Sunset Books; 1975

Who Can Help

  • This Old House: How to Build a Weather-Resistant Planter
Keywords: building garden containers, wood garden box, wooden garden containers

About this Author

A freelance writer with an extensive career in education, Susan Lundman taught writing and communication at the Military Academy at West Point, at military bases overseas and at community colleges in the United States. Working in a non-profit agency for 20 years, she wrote grant requests, promotional material, and operating guides. Lundman's expertise includes backpacking, dance, gardening and healthy living.