Pretty Front Porch: DIY Large Cedar Planter Boxes

It’s day 3 of my pretty front porch makeover. Don’t forget to check out painting the front door, my summer yarn wreaths and new welcome sign.

Today we are actually moving off the porch and down to the front walkway.

I found this plan for a planter on Ana White’s website and I thought it would be a nice addition to our front walk area.

Planter Boxes 24

We ended up deciding to make three boxes since we already had some plants in mind to put in them. Instead of making them all at once we finished the first one all the way through to see how it went. Then we started from the beginning to make the last two at the same time.

First we cut all legs and boards for the sides to size.

Planter Boxes 1

Then we sanded. Since the cedar fence boards are so rough they take a long time to sand down. I’m pretty sure the sanding was the longest step of the process. It was worth it however since it made the boards look so much nicer.

Planter Boxes 2

Then we just followed the rest of Ana White’s plan and we started assembling all the sides. To make sure that they were all the same height we used two squares to line up the 1×3 boards for the top and bottom.

Planter Boxes 3

We don’t always use glue when we build but this time around we decided to for the added strength.

Planter Boxes 4

Then we just centered the cedar fence boards on the top and bottom boards. We pre-drilled and screwed everything together using a 1-1/4″ exterior screw.

Planter Boxes 5

You can really tell the difference between the non-sand side above and the sanded side below. Here’s a pile of a bunch of the sides assembled and ready to go.

Planter Boxes 6

Once the sides were assembled Chris used the Kreg to drill two pocket holes on each side of the top and bottom into the ends of the 1×3 boards.

Planter Boxes 7

Then using the pocket holes we attached the 2×2 corner legs to half of the sides that were already built.

Planter Boxes 9

Once we were down half the of the sides panels now looked like this.

Planter Boxes 10

We lined up the leg boards so that the were flush with the top and bottom 1×3 from the front.

Planter Boxes 8

With half of the sides attached to the corners we then attached the remaining sides to them to create a box.

Planter Boxes 11

It’s a little tight attaching the last side but it’s not too bad.

Planter Boxes 12

Since we figured out what we were doing the first time around the last two planters went together pretty fast.

Planter Boxes 13

From here we deviated from the plans just a little and followed one of the brag posts instead. We decided we liked the more finished look of the planters that had a 1×3 topper on them instead of the legs just sticking out of the top. We measured the planters individually for the topper boards. The toppers were then glued and nailed in place with our nail gun.

Planter Boxes 14

At first we were going to miter the corners but we have a really hard time getting a good miter with our miter saw. Ultimately we thought it looked better to just use straight cuts.

Once the topper was on we measured our plants and chose were to screw in our cleats in the middle of the boxes.

Planter Boxes 15

Then we used some scrap wood to create rails for the bottom to support the plants and all the soil.

Planter Boxes 16

Here’s the boxes all ready to go. Don’t they look pretty?

Planter Boxes 17

Of course we were too excited at this point to not see what the plants would look like inside the pots.

Planter Boxes 18

I forgot to take pictures of the next step but we actually used Thompson Water Seal to seal the planters because we were worried about all the weather and water and we wanted them to last. We thought that it would be a clear seal but it actually did make the boxes a bit darker. I think we liked them better before but they don’t look bad now, just a little darker.

After the sealer dried for 48 hours we moved on to actually planting. To keep the soil from falling out of all the cracks we stapled weed block on the inside of the pots.

Planter Boxes 19

Once the boxes were covered with the weed block we dropped in the soil and started planting.

Planter Boxes 20

The boxes ended up being bigger then we expected so we bought a few little bright flowers to put in around the edges for fun and a little more color.

Planter Boxes 21

I love the way they turned out. They look so expensive and fancy.

Planter Boxes 22

Even though they look expensive they actually ended up being pretty inexpensive, especially compared to buying a box this size at a garden center.

Here’s a breakdown of our costs for all three 20″x20″ planters (soil and plants not included):

3  2×2-8′: 6.21
5  1×2-8′: 6.25
9  1×3-8′: 19.08
9  cedar fence pickets: 16.92
Weed Block: 9.97
Screws: 8.97
Wood Glue: On Hand
Thompson Water Seal: On Hand
Disposable Paint Brushes: 2.30

Total: $69.70

That’s just $23.23 for each box!

Planter Boxes 23

They are a nice little addition to our walkway. Finally the front is looking a lot less bare and a lot more finished.

Has anyone else been making diy planters for your yard this summer?

14 thoughts on “Pretty Front Porch: DIY Large Cedar Planter Boxes

  1. These look great. Thanks for sharing this.

    I’m trying to figure out how you attached the cleats inside the box for the bottom rails. It looks like they are screwed into the planks from the inside. How did you keep them from poking through to the outside?

    • Yep they are screwed from the inside. We used a screw that was long enough to go into the cedar planks but not to long to go all the way through. I would suggest holding the two pieces of wood up together to see if the screws you have would be too long. If I remember correctly we predrilled holes in the cleats only, then started the screws and them screwed the cleats to the outside.

  2. Hello, Wondering what the individual measurements are for each cut. We want to make these, have bought the wood. Just wondering if there is a reference for us to get the exact measurements for the boards that we will be cutting?
    Thank you!

  3. This project is something that is affordable easy and helps you bond even more with the family. I love it. I can’t wait to try it at my aunts house

  4. Your boxes look great! very simple and elegant. I shared your sanding pain at one time; solved it with a planer. Lastly, please post about the finish after some time. I’m not a fan of Thompson’s because it has parrafin in it, (or used to, anyway) which I find holds dirt. I decided to make mine out of reclaimed pallets to save a little money and plan to finish them with spar urethane. But your planters truly look great! I’m making two, but after seeing yours, I decided to put small casters on mine because they’re going to be in the driveway. This way I can move them if necessary and none of us, I don’t think, realize just how heavy dirt is! Thanks for letting me post. Once again, great job!

  5. Found you via Pinterest. 🙂
    I have several of these planters that are disintegrating. Got them at a reuse center and always loved them.
    I have looked at Ana’s plans and new it wouldn’t be tough to make them. However, I never got to it. Your directions are much more concise and easy to follow!

    The one thing I got from your directions, though, is that I’d probably lay a sheet of the landscape fabric on the 1x3s before screwing the cedar down. It would give it more support and I could always use more if I needed to.

    I also think I’d put those cleats on before I put the sides together. Gotta be easier! Plus, I’d use treated for the corner pieces, so the water wouldn’t damage them. Eco-wood, too. Just in case!

    I’m kinda thinking out loud, but I love your directions. Mine have the top cap. Just looks unfinished without them.
    Great job!

  6. Good looking job. I removed some existing shrubs in the front of my home. Using a beige Pea gravel and about a half dozen of these will work great. I’m a woodworker and you did a really good job building these.
    Thanks for the post. Doug

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