Watch us transform a dull backyard corner in vibrant fashion with our DIY outdoor planter. We used left over dirt from our fire pit DIY project to help fill these stylish, terraced beds. Watch the video, then follow along with our written guide.
Tools: A simple skillsaw will do all the cutting this project requires. You can even get your local hardware store to make all the cuts for you — more on that later. You’ll also need a drill and some standard wood screws.
Grab a shovel to loosen the dirt under the area where the planter beds will be installed, and post hole diggers are great for digging the holes for the planter posts that will anchor the boxes in the ground.
Don’t forget potting soil! The planters we built required 24 cubic feet of soil, and we used about 50% regular soil and 50% potting soil. Get some great looking plants and you’ll be ready to get started.
Dimensions: We’re building two rectangular 2 ft x 4 ft planters. One will be 2 ft high; the other, 1 ft. These will fit adjacent to one another in the corner of the yard, creating a terraced, L-shaped look. We used 36 ft of 2 in x 12 in pressure-treated lumber, and 16 ft of 2 in x 4 in board to build our posts.
Ensure your lumber is pressure treated! The threat of chemicals leaching into the soil has been neutralized by a new wood treatment method in use since 2003.
Placement: We chose the NW corner of the yard for largely aesthetic reasons. But we did ensure that corner will receive 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Determine how much sunlight your plants will need before settling on the permanent spot for your planter.
We cut the 2×12 into six 4 ft sections, and six 2 ft sections. We used the 2×4 to make four posts 1.5 ft long, and four posts 2.5 ft long (for the 2 ft tall box).
Fasteners: All connections were made between the 2x12s and 2×4 posts with carpentry screws, ensuring stability from the ground up. We used 6 screws on every end of the 2x12s to ensure stability. This was mainly to ensure stability against the large volume of dirt our larger planter must hold.
A Reddit r/gardening user noted that the new pressure treatment method uses more copper, which can remove galvanization on steel screws extremely quickly, leaving them vulnerable to corrosion. We used grade 316 stainless steel screws with zinc plating. A contractor posting on the Gardenweb Forums reported great results when using zinc-plated Simpson hardware with pressure-treated lumber.
Staging: With assembly of the shorter planter complete, we were able to use it to figure out exactly where to dig our post holes. Stage it in the spot you want to install, apply some pressure to the top, and use your post hole digger or shovel to dig four six-inch holes per planter.
Placement: Once we have both beds assembled, we want to get them set in their post holes. You may have to do some extra digging (or filling in) to make sure both beds are level. A basic carpentry level is great for this purpose, or you can just eyeball it. I climbed up on ours and walked around to really settle it in the ground, but you might be better off pounding around the top with a rubber mallet.
Remember to loosen up the dirt underneath the planter boxes before you place them. We had some help with that
Soil: We fill the beds with the 50% ground soil, 50% potting soil mixture. For best results, ensure the soil is flush with the top of the planter walls. We are not planting vegetables this time, because our homeowner was looking for a low-maintenance floral addition to his yard.
We began adding our soil mixture. Once we had filled the planters completely, we were ready to start planting.
We’re very pleased with the result!
Thanks for checking it out!