Easy How to Make a Modern DIY Planter Box

August 31, 2023

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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We love our neighbors, but also love to have some privacy when sitting out on our patio/pergola area. Last summer, I built an easy DIY planter box and filled it with the perfect plants to keep away mosquitos, while also adding some seclusion….

Girl standing in front of diy planter box. Wearing a jacket and black leggings

Buying a wooden or plastic planter at Home Depot can be expensive. So, why not build your own? It’s really quite simple and can even be built with wood you already have on-hand.

Need to find a use for that old pallet sitting around? Let’s build a planter.

The wood suggestions below are just that, suggestions. But if you don’t have scrap wood, the wood I have listed is a very affordable way to build a planter and will hold up well against the extreme, ever-changing, outdoor weather.

As promised, I’m sharing the easy-to-follow plans, so you can build one too!  So, let’s get to it! Let’s make a modern DIY planter box.


How to Make a Modern DIY Planter Box

Step-by-step instructions are based on a 70″ long x 20 1/2″ wide; 36″ tall planter box. If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly.

NOTE: Some of the pictures below show two planters. I chose to build two of these. However, these plans are for ONE modern planter box. You’ll want to double the plans, if you want to build two.

Wood Needed for DIY Planter Box:

  • 7-2x4x8 pine boards (Pressure Treated)
  • 20-5/8 in. x 5-1/2 in. x 6 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine Dog-Ear Fence Picket
  • 31-1 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Premium Kiln-Dried Square Edge Whitewood Common Board (To save money, 1x2x8 Furring Strip Boards would be a good replacement option)

Note: If you want cedar planter boxes, be sure to use cedar fence pickets. 

Materials List Needed for DIY Planter Box:

Basic Tools Needed:

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NOTE: If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, here’s a great tutorial.   If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one. You will use it all the time in the DIY realm! And it makes builds so much easier!  Amazon has a great price for them! Here’s the link!!

Cut List:

As with all of my projects, I prefer to make my cuts as I go. Much less chance for wrong cuts and waste.

Step One: Build the Structure

Cut two 2×4’s at 70″

Cut six 2×4’s at 34 1/2″

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on one end of all six (34.5″) 2×4’s.

Using 2 1/2″ screws, attach one 34.5″ 2×4 onto each end of your 70″ 2×4. And one 34.5″ 2×4 in the middle of the 70″ 2×4.

(Be sure to take note of how I placed the boards in the picture below. The end boards are flush with the ends of the long 2×4; while the middle board is flush with the edge of the long 2×4). See picture below for placement and further clarification….

2x4's attached with pocket hole screws to make a W shape

Repeat this step for your remaining 70″ board.

STRETCHERS: Cut four 2×4’s at 31 3/4″ to fit long-ways between each 34 1/2″ 2×4. See picture below for more clarification….

2x4's for creating the sides of the diy planter box shell

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on both ends of all four (31 3/4″) boards.

Using 2 1/2″ screws, attach each of these boards, half-way up, between your 34 1/2″ 2×4’s. See picture below for more clarification…(The easiest way to attach these is by laying your boards flat on the ground.) 

Once again, notice the placement of the horizontal (stretchers) 2×4’s. Two of them need to be flush with the edge of the end 2×4’s; and the other one needs to be full on flush with the middle 2×4. (As shown below)….

2x4's attached with pocket holes

Once again, repeat this step for your remaining 70″ board. And you should have TWO sections that look like this (Only one section is showing below; but you should have TWO mirroring one another)….

2x4's attached with pocket holes

Cut three 2×4’s at 12″.

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on each end.

Attach the two sections together, (using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws) evenly spacing these three 12″ boards on the bottom….

Sides of a diy planter box built with bottom boards attaching the two sections

Step Two: Build the Base

Cut Dog Ear Fencing to fit from one side of the structure to the other side. Your cuts should be approximately 18 1/2″. Using 1 1/2″ screws, attach each Dog Ear cut to the support boards. See picture below for further clarification…

Two structures built to hold plants

Your DIY planter box should now look like this…

Diy planter box with base and shell built

Step Three: Wrap the Planter Structure

Cut the Dog Ear Fencing to fit the ends: Starting at the bottom of the long sides, attach each board using 1 1/2″ nails. Space the boards by using a scrap piece of the dog ear fencing in between each board that you attach….

2x4's and dog ear fencing constructing a large planter

Next, move to the sides of the DIY planter box: Cut dog ear fencing to fit, once again starting at the bottom and spacing with a scrap piece as you move up….

Dog ear fencing wrapping structure while using a spare piece of wood to space the fencing.

When finished wrapping the structure, your DIY planter box should now look like this…

DIY planter box structure built with dog ear fencing wrapped around it

And the inside should look like this….

Base of a large planter with scrap wood forming the base

I recommend painting the planter at this point. Easier to paint it BEFORE adding the slats….

Large structure for outdoor plants painted black

Step Four: Add the Slats

​The last step to this build is adding the slats.

Cut 13-1×2 boards at 19″.  Stain (and let dry) each board before attaching.

Then attach all 13 boards to one end of the planter, using 1 1/2″ nails. Use a scrap 1×2 board for spacing. You should have 1 1/2″ between each slat.

(NOTE: A 1×2 is actually 1 1/2″ wide; not 2″, as one may assume by the name)….

Slats added to large structure for outdoor plants

Repeat this step to the other end of your DIY planter box.

At this point, I recommend moving your planter to it’s new home, before adding more slats. The more wood you add, the heavier the planter gets. We actually had four guys move our two planters to our backyard pergola. These puppies aren’t going anywhere! They are solid!

Large diy planter box with slats added to the ends

Once your planter is in it’s new space, you’re ready to add the rest of the slats. Cut the side slats to fit. Make sure you cut them long enough to cover the end slats you already attached….

Slats made with 1x2's added to the outside of outdoor structure

Attach them to your planters the same way you attached the end slats…being sure to leave 1 1/2″ between each slat….

Pergola space with patio furniture and large wooden planters

And now you’re ready for your favorite plants! Add garden bed liner to avoid weeds. Use a stapler or brad nailer, to keep it in place….

Weed control liner added to a plant bed before adding plants

You’ll also want to attach a plastic liner. I used large, heavy duty trash bags along the edges. This helps the soil to stay in place and not fall down along the sides…

Garden bed with weed control liner and black plastic trash bags

My next step was to figure out the placement of my plants. I chose plants that would provide more privacy, while smelling good and also keeping mosquitoes away. Here’s a list of the plants I chose:

Lemongrass; Lavender; Rosemary; Pampas Grass; Purple Fountain Grass…

Beautiful diy planter box with a myriad of plants

Through the summer these plants grew to be pretty tall, providing great shade and privacy…

Pergola with an assortment of plants planted in beds around it

This summer, I chose different plants for my DIY planter boxes…Hostas and an ornamental grass of some kind. (I know woodworking, not planting, haha…sorry!)

Slatted diy planter box with an assortment of plants in it

It’s so much fun to switch the plants out every year and figure out what new look I want to go with. I love the privacy these DIY planter boxes give us while out on our patio. Sitting out here in the evenings, on our outdoor furniture that I built last year, is so much more enjoyable….

Outdoor furniture on a striped rug with a coffee table and neutral color pillows and cushions

Here’s a quick look at our patio space BEFORE adding an outdoor planter box….

Pergola space with outdoor patio furniture

And that same angle with our new large planter box (times two 🙂  ) Oh my gosh! I am loving this new modern look….

Pergola space with outdoor furniture and new diy planter boxes

Amazing how the planters completely change the look of the entire outdoor space….

Pergola space with a diy planter box and outdoor furniture


Adding new flowers every year can get expensive. So, this year, I planted perennials in my wooden planters. I fell in love with these Little Lime Hydrangeas. Aren’t they just the cutest?

DIY planter box with little lime hydrangeas

​The best part: I won’t need to replace them next year! These Little Limes are great for smaller spaces and will come back every year!

Planter boxes aren’t just for backyard spaces, they’re great for curb appeal too.

This summer, I added another DIY modern wood planter box by my front porch. I decided to go with a little more of a simple design, by not adding the slatted boards…

Black planter box with sedum planted in front of a large window

Our front door makes such a statement that I didn’t want anything competing with it…

Front porch

I love the added accent touch of black. Especially after painting all of my gutters and eaves black too. (Here’s the post all about that project!)

Front of large house with landscaping in full bloom

Here’s a quick peek at that space before adding the new planter…

Big double window with a bench and flowers underneath

No comparison! The planter and plants that are actually thriving (haha!) is so much better!

Knowing that we’re heading into Fall soon, I really didn’t want to spend anymore money on summer flowers. I’ll be changing out all of my current potted flowers soon for mums. But I felt like it was still a little too early to plant Fall flowers.

Here’s a peek at what’s to come for my flower boxes…

Flower box with mums


So, instead, I planted Sedum. Thanks mom, for this great advice!

So many benefits to planting Sedum:

  1. They’re perennials! The fact that I won’t have to plant new flowers next year is the biggest benefit of all!!
  2. They turn a beautiful vibrant color in the Fall and stay very neutral in the Spring/Summer.
  3. They were cheap!!! The low price point and the fact that I won’t need to replace them every year was a win-win!!
  4. They spread and are easy to replant! I can propagate these next year and enjoy them in other areas of my landscaping too.

Girl planting sedum in diy planter box

I love that I chose to build this simple wooden planter box a little bit taller…

Front yard landscaping with American Flag

I wanted to be able to enjoy the flowers from inside the dining room too. I made sure the top of the planter box would sit just below the window frame. So pretty!

Inside view of a diy planter box from the dining room

​Just a quick tip before we wrap up this post:

One thing I learned over the course of building 3 of these modern design planters, is they are heavy!! As I mentioned earlier in the post, all of the wood used for these makes them very solid. Which is great! They’re not going anywhere!

However, moving them can be a bear. Especially with no where to really grab a hold of. So, this time, I added a 2×4 inside the planter on both ends…

DIY planter box made out of wood

My hubby and sons really appreciated these extra “handles” when they were moving the raised planter box to its new destination. This quick addition made a huge difference in the ease of moving them.

Planter boxes are a great project for any time of year. I love decorating my planter box in the winter, just as much as I do in the Fall!

Add winter greenery, such as boughs or branches of pine or cedar. Along with pinecones and sprigs of red berries.

Flower box decked out for Christmas

So, what do you think? Are you ready to build your own planter box? Another easy DIY project!

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Be sure to Pin This Post to your Pinterest Board for later…


As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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