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Planter project


About ten years or more ago, I bought some wooden planter kits online: I lived on the 7th floor at the time but hoped I’d get a garden one day and be able to use them, I did get a garden (of sorts) but had no room for them.

Finally moved somewhere I would have room to use them, though it took me a while to remember that I had them somewhere and eventually found them in the stack of boxes still awaiting unpacking.

I’d bought four which needed assembling: the bits with handle-holes had slots in the sides and the other pieces had tabs to fit in. It took me a while to realise that the slots were longer than the tabs, and I had the sides at different heights, which made the whole thing wonky. Had to undo and redo a couple, but eventually more or less got them together – sadly only “more or less” since some of them are still a bit wonky: some of the joints wouldn’t fit all the way home, and some screws didn’t want to know about going all the way, either.

Typically, I was one screw missing (ha! always knew I had a screw loose!) so I had to botch it with an almost-the-right-size screw

The label said that the wood was “treated” but I thought I’d paint them anyway – I picked up a couple of splinters from rough edges. However, the external wood paint that I’d bought to do the window frames at the old place turned out to be for internal use only, so I varnished them inside and out instead. That should help protect them, and me from further splinters.

I suppose someone who looks closely can see that they’re a bit wonky, but I can always claim that this was deliberate –, a wonky planter should sit level on sloping ground!

The bottoms just drop in and rest on the bottom edges of the frame. The lining bags aren’t fixed at all; they just sit inside. The meagre instructions said to plant into the lining, after making slits to line up with the gaps in the bases,

I did think of pinning or stapling the liner in place so that soil went into the liner rather than down inside the planter when filling it, but then I thought that if I could fit pots inside the frames, I could move them separately from the planter, which would make arranging and rearranging their positions much easier – they’re about 12” cubed – not very big, but solid wood, and being such a wimp, I’d rather do two slightly awkward journeys than one hard one.

It would also make it easier to change the plant – just lift out the pot, put another one in, rather than dig one plant out and replant another one in the lining.

I’d been meaning to try to split my Carex Ice Dance for some time – it was crowding the biggest pot I had, so I thought if I could split it, each part should be okay in a smaller pot in a planter. Managed it, more or less – poor plant! I was as gentle as I could be, but this probably should have been done at years ago, it was so tangled that it was hard to be gentle with it.

However, the plants do look fairly ok in their planters. I ran out of square pots, so the grass in the third planter has a round pot.

Wish the Heuchera was big enough to fill a pot this size! But maybe one day …

It took me about a week to get them done; I had to varnish in sections, inside first, let dry, then outside. Let dry …

Compared to some of the brilliant garden DIY projects on GoY, these are pretty feeble, but they are my first garden project here – and I did it all myself!

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I think you have done a grand job,Fran.they look great.and they don't look wonky to me..also think that is a much better idea,of being able to lift pots out, as and when you easy to ring the changes for different seasons..and not have to lug the planters around,if heavy with soil,especially when it gets wet..the possibilities are endless,that way..The smaller of the grasses would look nice underplanted with some summer trailers,if you wanted a bit of colour ,Lobelia for instance..but maybe you prefer to have just the grasses..or how about planting your smaller Heuchera at the front of it..?It has all summer to grow,and a nice contrast.. and when it's time to plant daffs or other spring bulbs,those would look good planted around the edges too..An excellent job,Fran..and as you say,you did them's more than I could even attempt to do :o) x

20 May, 2014


I do that a lot Fran.......not building planters but putting a plastic pot in others, its a cold garden if we get the northeasterlys so plants like
osteospermum etc overwinter in the much easier and better for them than digging them up.

maybe the wood dried out in storage and once it settles the wonkiness you see (but I can't) will sort itself out

ps I do admire your foresight. havebeen planning thisgarden for along while I'm so pleased you are finally there x

20 May, 2014


I think you have done a great job Fran and congratulations for now having the space to display your carefully hoarded planters. I too think that having the plants in pots is a much better idea than planting them direct and looking at your pictures you are soon not going to know that they are not planted direct!
Your Carex must have been a HUGE plant before you split it, no wonder you had to get a bit tough with it.
At least you only had one screw missing from the kit. I bought (last year) nuts and bolts to put the re-vamped garden seat back together and put them somewhere 'safe', yesterday I gave up looking and went and bought more!
I think your planters look great, who cares if someone thinks they may be wonky, the plants won't care and if you have 'friends' that are that picky and tactless, are they friends?

20 May, 2014


Great job, Fran, and nothing is wonky in my book - it just has character! The wood will last longer if you use potted plants in them too, especially if you put a 'saucer' in the bottom. Your foresight is amazing, first the water feature and now your container kits - so pleased you finally have your garden. Enjoy :)

20 May, 2014


thanks Bloomer. I hadn't thought about underplanting the grass, but you're right, there's room there! and it'd help disguise the outline of the pot. I've got some ivy which refuses to climb, so might trail pro tem till I can find trailing flowers. Or the small Heucheras indeed! I have two smaller ones which might fit into the front of the pot, if I move the grass back a bit. And my Tete-a-Tete from the old place have just about finished flwoering, so I could put some of those bulbs in there later.

I've still got a planter spare, sand some smaller grasses, so maybe I could put them in there. lol so many possibilities!

thanks Pam - I've thought about putting bubble-wrap inside pots to help with insulation, never got any further than thinking about it - or nesting two pots iwth a bubble-wrap layer between. lol the planters had been in the box for at least six years before I even opened it, and maybe another three years in storage, so no wonder if htey did dry out a tad.

sigh, planning is easy, doing is harder, or getting round to doing!

thanks Honeysuckle. I've long dreamed about a mini-landscape in a raised bed or trough, but even there the plants would be individually potted, nestled close and covered with bark or gravel to hide the joins, so that a plant could be rotated for even growth or one could be taken out and replaced without disturbing the others. no idea if that'd work in practice, but only one way to find out :-)

tha Carex was rather on the large side; the tub it was in was bout 18" at the top and not much smaller at the base, and the plant was cramped - last year i just pulled off the babies at the edges and repotted the main plant. still got some babies to plant this time, but not so many - prob is passing them on, it's not as if I really want a dozen of them!

oh, the perils of "somewhere safe"!!! I must have a small black hole that swallows all my "somehwere safe" stuff. lol I bet you'll find the original ones now you've bought replacements.

thanks Gee. I still put slits in the liners to aid drainage - I did think about just putting hte pots directly on to the bases, but then the drainage would have come out on the wood, rather than between the slats, so i thought it safer to use the liners.

Given that my only power tool is a cordless drill-screwdriver, it's not a bad job - I have plenty of wood and plenty of ideas, but I'll need someone to cut the wood for me - I can't even saw 1x1s, at least i couldn't the last time I tried, the wood kept sliding all over the place. maybe if I had a workshop or bench to hold the wood still - lol or i could get an electric saw but think I'd rather have someone else use it even if I did - i like my fingers where they are, attached to my hands!

20 May, 2014


1st class job Fran. Well done on splitting the Carex too. That sounded like the hardest part of it all to me. Sometimes it just doesn't do to be gentle with plants and brute force is needed.
Think you did the right thing in using pots, I know you've treated the wood but speaking from experience, I'd lift out the pots to water.
I had rather expensive wooden planters that eventually rotted even though they were lined.

20 May, 2014


aw, that's bad, Scottish - i put slits in the liner between the slats of hte bottom (more or less) and the slats are varnished all over, so that should help deflect any leakage, for a while, anyway. Maybe I'll try to re-varnish them every now and then - it should be only the base slats that water touches. Where did yours start to go?

lol I've never split such a large plant before; it looks so easy in the gardening books, use two forks back to back and lever the halves apart; not so easy when you've only one garden fork and one hand-fork with a long handle! I kept apologising to it and telling it it was its own fault for resisting so much!

20 May, 2014


It was the base Fran. Hadnt realised til I went to lift them to move them and the arse fell out them! They looked perfect from the outside.

21 May, 2014


aw, Scottish. can you get something to replace the base, if you've still got the rest?

I did think of leaving the bases out and putting a pot upside down for the planted pot to stand on - the inverted pot would give enough height for hte pot, and I could use smaller pots which would end up inside the planter if I used the base panel

22 May, 2014


I'd suggest you do something like that Fran, probably too late though now you've got them all assembled and varnished. I would though suggest taking the pots out before watering.
I've binned them already Fran, so too late for me!

22 May, 2014


The bases aren't fixed in, they just drop in after assembly and rest on sticky-out bits inside, so I'd just need to lift them out.

The rain's done most of hte watering, though I did water the plants in after repotting, but before putting them in the planters. The square pots fit closely, the only prob might be with the round pot the grass is in - but the liner's there to catch drops.

But I'll try inerted pots, then there's no base to get leasked on and suffer - not sure if I'll be able to use the liners if there's no base to support them, which might make the situation worse; at least now they might stop the inside getting watered by accident.

23 May, 2014


Fran they are looking good and well done you for keeping them all these years, what else you got stashed away..

25 May, 2014


thanks Lincs.. and now I know how it's done I can have a go at making them from scratch - four bits of wood nailed together with feet, lol

got to find the pump and cables for my water feature; thought i'd put them in my "electrics" box but apparently not. sigh, only another forty or so boxes to check!

25 May, 2014


Well done Fran, I hate putting things together as the instructions always seem like gobble de gook to me. I bet you have saved a small fortune having bought them so many years ago. They look nice and solid. What a good idea planting them up with pots of plants. Wish I had done that with the planter I bought a couple of years ago. One of the plants need thinning out in it now but it's impossible to get to the roots without disturbing a clematis I have growing in it. When I empty mine out, which I will soon have to do, I shall replant in pots so they can be easily taken out.

1 Jun, 2014


that's a shame, Homebird. how long has the planter been undisturbed? I have square pois that fit almost exactly; did try a round pot but it left gaps in the corners,

The "instructions" were three lines on the back of the card wrapper, and in tiny print - the panels are solid wood, which should be fairly long-lasting - longer than mdf or plywood or whatnot.

I've put my new Buddleia in one planter, and my new Sungold conifer (the label didn't say what speices, and there were too many options online) in the fourth - each with a trailing Lo belia in each corner - must remember to rotate them now and then to give hte back ones a fair chance

1 Jun, 2014


It's about 4 yrs now and I planted some spare Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow' in with the Clematis. I hadn't realized how they rooted so deeply. T is going to help me tip all the soil ball out and I am going to put it into the garden.

2 Jun, 2014


sounds a good plan, Homebird. did your planters have liners too, and if so, were they fixed in place?

2 Jun, 2014


No they didn't have liners so I lined them with inside out compost bags and stapled them to the sides to stop the compost from being washed out but allowing drainage of excess water through the holes already in the bags.

5 Jun, 2014


I save my old compost bags on the "might come in handy" principle

I did think of pinning these liners at the top, as I don't have a staple gun, but decided not to; would be a pain to rake out if I needed to get at the base to re-varnish or whatever.

Hoped the pot would help to hold the sides up, seems to be working so far, though of course it's a bit wrinkled and might let water in if I'm not careful - and the rain certainly isn't careful! but they've been varnished inside, so they're as resistant - or not - as the outside

5 Jun, 2014

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