How to Build a Rustic Planter Box

By   | Last Updated :   November 2, 2021 | Filed In :   Garden Accessory Ideas

If you want to give your garden a rustic air, a brand-new planter box may look out of place. Whether you’re keen on a stone or wooden planter box, new materials may simply look too shiny and neat.

The whole point of building a rustic planter box is for it to look old and weathered, like it’s been in your garden for ages.  So, how do you build a rustic planter box?

How to build a rustic wood planter box

When you look up plans on how to build a wood planter box, the first thing is to decide on a size and then calculate how many wood planks you need for your project. With a rustic wood planter box, it’s exactly the opposite.

First, see what materials you have, and then see how big a planter box you can build with them. After all, it’s the scrap wood that gives it the rustic air. So, start by looking around the house for any old boards you could use.

old door rustic planter box

Use whatever materials you can find! This planter has been made from an old door. Image credit: @organizedclutter

Things you’ll need

Step 1 – Scavenge for materials

This is probably the best part about building a rustic wood planter box—you don’t have to spend a penny on materials. Check the shed, the attic and the garage in search of wood boards. If you want to get rid of an old cupboard, take out the shelves and every bit of wood you can repurpose.

If you’re not satisfied with your haul, extend your search area. Knock on neighbours’ doors to ask if they might want to get rid of any old pieces of furniture.

To put together the planter box, you’ll need a handful of nails and a hammer. If you prefer, you can use screws.

Important: The only thing you need to check is that the wood boards aren’t rotten and ready to fall to pieces. Don’t worry if they look dirty or uneven.

Step 2 – Determine the shape of your rustic wood planter box

Consider the shape of your box. It needs two long walls and two shorter ones. But if you have four wood boards of the same size and you’d rather not cut them, that’s perfectly fine.

You can build a square planter box instead if you want. That’s the beauty of DIY projects. Instructions aren’t set in stone, and you can be as original as you want. If it looks a bit odd, that’s great as it makes it look more authentic.

rustic wooden planter box

The size and shape of your rustic planter will be determined by the wood you can find. Image credit: @average.joe.woodworking>

Step 3 – Put the rustic planter box together

Now, back to building that rustic planter box. Cut the boards so you get the four walls of the box.  Also, don’t forget that the walls of the box need to be roughly the same height.

Work carefully as old beaten wood pieces tend to be fragile. Figure out which part of the wood board would look better on the outside. You’re aiming for rustic, not ugly.

If you use screws, make sure to pre-drill the holes to prevent the old boards from splintering. To secure two sides together, 2-3 nails should do. You don’t want to hammer too many nails into old boards. 

Tip: For added strength, you can use metal straps to hold the walls together. Check to see if the box seems sturdy enough.

Step 4 – Make the bottom of the wood planter box

We haven’t mentioned the bottom of the planter box so far because this is the least of your concerns. Whatever wood pieces you have left will do the job since no one is going to see the bottom anyway.

It doesn’t matter how thick the bottom board is. Since you’re putting the planter box on the ground, it’s not likely the bottom will fall off.

You have two options. If you have a large enough wood board, you can put the bottom on the outside. That means that you put the box upside down on a flat surface and hammer the bottom on with a few nails.

If all you have left are smaller pieces of wood, it’s best to place the bottom on the inside of the box. Cut the wood board so you can fit it inside the box and hammer it in place. You may need someone to keep the bottom board steady while you hammer the nails in.

Your rustic wood planter box is now ready. Remember to drill a few holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain.

Tip: Put your new old planter box in the preferred spot before filling it with gardening soil. You don’t want to tempt fate and put the soil in before, just in case the bottom is not as solid as you thought!

scrap wood rustic planter box

Scrap wood can make incredible planter boxes. Image credit: @farmhouse.inspired

Rustic planter box ideas

Building a box out of old wood pieces is just one way of making a rustic planter box, but you can be as creative as you like.

Fence planter box

This works best with small wooden planter boxes. All you need are some wood planks similar to those that make up the fence. You can build a 10-inch-long wood planter box using the steps described above.

Since the planter box will go on the fence rather than on the ground, you need to make sure the bottom is sturdy. Liberal use of nails is recommended.

All you have to do is figure out a way to fasten the planter box to the fence. If it’s small enough, you can simply nail it to the fence posts. Another option is to fix it in place using metal straps.

More on this: 23 Fence Planter Box Ideas to Inspire You

Over the rail rustic planter box

If you have a wooden deck, you might want to decorate it with a few planter boxes. You can use hanging brackets but if they look too new, that may ruin the rustic feel you’re going for.

Try using rope or a length of chain that’s been sitting in the shed for years and has a weathered look.

Put the rope around each end of the planter box at least a couple of times, or more if the rope seems too thin. Tie it with whatever knot you can make and then pass the loose ends over the rails of the deck.

You can do the same with a chain, but it’s not as easy to tie. A couple of weathered padlocks would look just great to fasten the chain.

Rustic planter box centrepiece

You can use a rustic planter box inside as well, pop a small box on the kitchen windowsill and grow herbs in it.

Rustic centrepieces also look great on a table, especially for Easter. You can wow your guests with colourful hyacinths or daffodils. A small 10-inch box is large enough for a centrepiece.

rustic planter growing herbs

Rustic planters are ideal for growing herbs. Image credit: @tillycorinnehome

You Might Also Like: How to Build a Window Planter Box and What to Plant in it

Wall-hanging rustic planter boxes

Hanging rustic planter boxes can create a focal point and divert attention from a wall that’s not in the best shape. For this, you need at least three planter boxes of different sizes.

The largest goes at the bottom and the smallest on top. You can tie them together with rope or a length of chain and hang the ensemble on the wall with a hook. If you plant hanging flowers or leafy plants in the boxes, even better.

More on this: 5 Simple Hanging Planter Box Ideas

Weathered rustic planter box

Sometimes you just can’t find weathered wood planks no matter how hard you try. The next best thing is to weather the wood artificially. No one needs to know your planter is built with brand new planks you just got from your local DIY store!

A quick way to age wood is to sand it. For best results, apply a coat of paint to the walls of the planter box. Since you’re not aiming for a freshly painted look, you can dilute the paint. Don’t try to make it look perfect, on the contrary, use broad strokes and don’t worry if the colour doesn’t look even.

Allow the paint to dry and get to the sanding part. Use 100 grit sandpaper, which is the roughest on the market. Start by sanding the parts where the wood would be most affected by ageing, like the edges of the box. If you’ve overdone it and the brand-new wood underneath starts showing, no worries. Just apply a bit of paint to cover it.

If you want to make the planter box more resistant, clean it carefully after sanding and apply a water-based sealer.

weathered rustic planter box

Image credit: @jo.and.co.rustic

The wrap up

Building a rustic planter box is a great way to repurpose old wood pieces and bring some variety to your garden without spending any money. Rustic planter boxes go well in the garden, along the fence, or you can hang them on the wall or over the deck railings.

Round up all the old wood boards you can find around the house and see how big a planter box you can make. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out perfectly, it’s more authentic that way.

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