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  • How To Build A Planter Box - A Step By Step Guide

How To Build A Planter Box - A Step By Step Guide

ARTICLE Kris MacGregor ILLUSTRATIONS Gareth Poley PLANTER BOX PLANS Gareth Poley PLANTER BOX BUILD Cameron Bradnock, Byryn Neilson PLANTER BOX DESIGNS Barry Bloomfield, Gareth Poley PLANTS for this project were kindly supplied by Palmers Remuera PAINT AND WOOD STAINS were kindly supplied by Resene.

palm planter box

With spring around the corner many Kiwis are keen to plant herbs and flowers. Our step-by-step guide makes building and decorating a planter box for your garden easy.

Materials you will need:

• 2 metres of 50 x 50mm treated pine framing
• 3.66 metres of 100 x 50mm treated pine framing
• 2 metres of 150 x 19 mm fence palings
• 11 metres of 100 x 25mm treated pine no 2 grade decking
• 1 jar of 75mm galvanised or stainless steel screws
• 1 jar of 35mm galvanised or stainless steel screws
• A sheet of baby iron or standard corrugated iron (optional)
• Paint or wood stain (optional)
• Stones, soil and plants or herbs

Tools checklist:

• Drill (cordless or electric)
• 3mm drill bit
• Skill saw
• Combination square
• Hammer
• Pencil
• Tape measure
• Sand paper
• Tin snips
• Clamps (optional)
• Paint brushes (optional)

Let’s get started...

Begin by gathering and assembling all of the supplies and equipment listed in the materials and tools checklist.

Step 1

• Measure and cut the legs and side supports from the 100 x 50 pine framing. Cut the base supports from the 50 x 50 pine framing. You can download plans at
• Screw the base supports flush with the side support framing with the 75mm screws. Pre-drilling all the screw holes makes installing the screws much easier and will also prevent the timber from splitting.
• Assemble the legs and supports using 75mm screws to form the basic shape of the planter box.

planter box step 1

Step 2

• Cut the fence palings to form the base of the planter box. Note: Cutting the boards 5mm shorter than the required length will make them much easier to install.
• Spread the boards across the base and open gaps in each board to provide full coverage of the entire base. Don’t worry if you have small gaps between the boards as this will aid in the drainage of any excess water in the planter box.

planter box step 2

Step 3

• Cut the decking boards or iron (also 5mm shorter) and install to all four sides allowing to screw or nail in place.
• Finally, cut four boards long enough to mark and cut each end with a 45-degree angle to form a tidy picture frame. Install these boards on the top of the planter box and secure with the 60mm nails.

planter box step 3

Step 4

• If you would like to make the seat version, cut three or four lengths of 100 x 50mm pine framing and screw together with two pieces of 50 x 50mm pine framing installed at right angles.
• The 50 x 50 should then neatly fit on the inside of each planter to secure the seat. Remember to leave one side of the decking boards off to accept the seat.
• A standard seat height is between 400-500mm, so we recommend making the seat planter box to this height.

planter box step 4

Personalise your planter box

Here are some ideas to help you get started. Let us know if you’ve enjoyed making one of these planter boxes. We’d love to see photos of them – you can post them on our Facebook page You will also find links to other schemes, articles and competitions on our page. If you have any suggestions for step-by-step projects, please email Happy building!

Palm planter box by Chris Caiger:

Chris chose a corrugated iron look for his tropical planter box. Complemented by a dark blue box frame and a red rim, it’s a modern design that works well next to an entrance door.

‘Black and white delight’ by Barry Bloomfield:

Opting for a classic look that will go with any house colour and décor, Barry applied three coats of white paint to his planter box. Once dried, he added two coats of black paint to the frame.

Bench planter box by Gareth Poley:

To enhance the look of natural wood, Gareth used wood stains instead of paint to colour his planter box. Soft cream and dark green tones bring both the wood and the plants to life.

bench planter box

Wood stains

Wood stains are the perfect way to add colour to new or previously stained timber without losing its natural beauty. Resene is now offering a new range of 38 exterior wood stain colours adding bright hues such as Totem Pole red, Embers orange and Rangitoto green to the traditional colours. Visit for more information. 

Tips to help you get the best results


Make sure you sand your planter box well. You can use 120-grit sandpaper for a medium finish. The smoother the wood the less colour will be absorbed, so if you wish a lighter stain you could opt for 220-grit paper.


Stains are transparent and enhance the natural beauty of wood. Apply stain generously in one continuous movement across your wood, going with the grain. Let it dry for 30 minutes and apply more for a darker look.


Apply an undercoat and let it dry for two hours. Followed this with one or more exterior paint top coats. Painting several thin coats rather than one thick coat results in a smooth and even finish.

  • Post author
    Renovate Magazine