Building a Planter with a Sitting Ledge

Gardening is easy if you can sit right next to your flower bed. And sometimes it’s pleasant to just sit near the foliage. This solid structure can easily provide a place for plants and the gardener alike. This easy-to-build planter box can accommodate anything from flowers to a small vegetable patch. Bottom pieces facilitate air circulation to protect the base of the planter and—if the box is on a deck—the deck planking itself.

Tools: Circular saw, drill, square.

1. Cut the pieces. Choose rot-resistant lumber for all pieces. Cut 2x2 bottom pieces and a sheet of pressure-treated plywood to form the base. The 2x12 end and side pieces will wrap around the plywood and sit on the 2x2s. Cut the end pieces 6 inches longer than the width of the plywood, so they run past the side pieces 1 1/2 inches on each side. The box is capped with mitered 4x6 top trim. Use a speed square to mark for the 45-degree cuts; you will need to cut both sides with a circular saw.

2. Assemble and finish. Drill a grid of 3/8 inch holes in the plywood. Place it on evenly spaced 2x2s, and attach with 1 5/8 inch deck screws. Assemble the sides and ends, attaching to each other and to the 2x2 bottom pieces with 3-inch deck screws. Attach the mitered trim pieces together by drilling pilot holes and horizontally driving 3-inch deck screws. Drill pilot holes and drive 3-inch deck screws at an upward angle, from inside the box, through the 2x12s and into the 4x6s. Sand all corners and edges smooth. Apply paint or sealer. Fill with several inches of gravel, followed by light soil that is rich in organic material.

Galvanized and Plastic Liners - Pressure-treated lumber and the heartwood of redwood or cedar will last a long time, especially if you allow for proper drainage and coat the wood with a sealer/ preservative. But there are no guarantees that the wood will not become discolored or rot. A custom-made galvanized liner placed in the finished planter will protect it. Build the planter, then have a sheet-metal company custom-make a liner with a drainage spout. Add holes for water to run out the bottom. Or buy a piece of pond liner fabric to fit your planter. This material is available at gardening shops and home centers.

Making Window Boxes

This is a quick way to add charm to your home’s exterior. Choose a spot that gets enough sun, but watch out for places that bake in the summer sun—a shallow box will need to be watered every day during the hot months. Use rot-resistant wood, and seal it well so it can stand the heat. Determine the best height for your box. If the flowers will be tall, or if the view out of the window is important, you may want to lower it a foot or more below the windowsill.

Tools: Circular saw or power miter saw, saber saw, drill, square, sanding block, hammer.

Ways of Attaching Window Boxes

■ Though small, a window box can get quite heavy when it rains, so anchor it well. It will tend to pull away at the top of the box, so anchor the top directly, and support it with well-anchored brackets.

■ On a frame house, drive long screws through the top portion of the box into framing members of the house, which are usually easy to find under a window. Attach brackets in the same way.

■ On a masonry house, things get a bit tougher. You will need to use masonry screws or lag bolts with lag shields driven into the masonry surface.

1. Cut the pieces. Cut the 1x8 bottom and sides to the length you want for your box—you may want to match the width of your window, including trim. Drill 3/8-inch drainage holes in the center, every 6 inches or so. Cut the end pieces 1 1/2 inches longer than the width of the bottom piece. The long 1x2 trim pieces are U/2 inches longer than the side pieces, and the short 1x2s are 4 1/4 inches long.

2. Build and brace. Assemble the bottom and sides, drilling pilot holes and driving 2-inch deck screws to form a strong box. Add the 1x2 trim, which covers up the edges of the end and bottom pieces, flush to the bottom and top of the box. Fasten the trim with 4d galvanized nails. Cap the box off with 1x3 top trim, mitered at the corners and attached with 6d galvanized nails. Apply paint or sealer. Anchor the box as described at left. Choose a decorative bracket like the one shown, or use a miter-cut 2x2 in the same way as the 4x4 angle brace. Fill with 2 inches of gravel, followed by light soil.

Building a large window box. You can do some serious gardening outside your window with a massive box like this. Build it simply, using materials like pressure-treated 2x12 and painting it the color of the house. If you want, you can cover it with siding to match your house, or add a few pieces of trim. Decide whether you will be gardening from inside your home or outside, and position the box for easy access. You don’t want to have to climb a ladder every time you water or weed.

Make a wood support. Support a heavy box at three points. Anchor a ledger for the rear of the box to rest on; attach angled braces to support the front of the box; and anchor the top of the box directly to the house, adding washers as spacers to allow room for airflow.

Add decorative touches. Whether your window box is large or small, consider adding some ornamental touches. Make an apron like the one shown above, or come up with your own design, perhaps mirroring some other decorative element from your home’s siding or trim. You can make a cardboard template of half the design. Trace it onto a piece of lx lumber, then flip it over for the other half. Cut out carefully with a saber saw. Sand all the curves so they look smooth. Attach the apron by drilling pilot and counterbore holes and driving screws upward. Even if the box is otherwise supported, consider adding decorative end braces as well. Trace and cut them out of lx lumber.

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