The Easiest $3 DIY Cedar Planter Boxes


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April 5, 2020
Zoe Hunt

Make these DIY planter boxes for railing or fences out of a single piece of wood.

What smells better than a lovely cedar planter? A burnt cedar planter box. The leaves are turning green, the bees are abuzzin, and all you can dream up are some bright pink flowers to brighten up your outdoor space. Grab a few annuals and a cedar fence picket and you’re ready to build yourself a wood planter box that’ll hang beautifully on your porch railings. Get your sweet tea ready because you’re about to spend a few months doing some porch swinging!

Dreaming aside–let’s make it a reality and start DIYing!

Build this hanging planter box for $3

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What You’ll Need

How to make a planter box for railing

New to DIY? Download our free 5 Steps to Getting Start with DIY guide!

$3 wooden planter box tutorial for wood hanging planter

Step 1: Cut your wood

Cut the front and back of the hanging planter box. Each piece will be 21″ long.

Cut the side pieces. To do this, measure and mark 1.5″, then set your miter saw to 33-degrees. Line up your wood so that the saw blade is in line with the 1.5″ in the back.

cutting cedar with miter saw

Then line your angled piece up with the front of the box. Mark the excess and cut it off with a miter saw (be sure to set your saw back to 90-degrees first).

marking cedar boards to cut

For the second side piece, lay your first side piece on top and mark where to cut. You will be doing two cuts, both at 90-degrees.

stacking cedar boards to get correct dimensions

Cut the bottom piece to size (19.75″) on the miter saw. Then run the piece through the table saw so that it is 1.5″ wide.

Step 2: drill

Drill 3 drainage holes on the bottom of the planter box using a 1/4″ drill bit.

Drill 2-3 holes in the top of the back piece using the 1/4″ drill bit. These will be used to run the zip ties through to attach to the railing later. 

drilling holes in cedar board

STEP 3: sand

Quickly sand your cedar using 80 or 120-grit sandpaper. Since these are for outside, we are just trying to knock off anything that might scratch someone. They don’t need to be (and won’t be) perfectly smooth.

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet

Step 4: Burn the Wood

Burn the cedar using your Bernzomatic torch for a beautiful finish. We don’t burn the inside of the planter box to save fuel and so that our plants touch the raw cedar instead.

burning cedar with torch

step 5: Assemble your planter box

Assemble the planter box using wood glue (make sure it says “exterior” somewhere on the bottle) and nails. Start with attaching the sides, then the bottom, then the front.

assembling planter box using glue and nails

Optional Step 6: add landscape fabric

You might have noticed a small gap between the front of your planter and the bottom. You can use this as extra drainage and skip right ahead to making your spring dreams a reality, or you can add landscape fabric. This will still allow for drainage, but it will prevent any soil from slipping through. We simply staple the landscape fabric using a staple gun.

step 7: hang your planter

To install the planter boxes on railing: string your zip ties through the holes you drilled in step 5. Loop them around your railing, tighten, and cut the excess. Simple as that! 

DIY hanging planter box on railing

There you have it! An easy planter box that you can make out of a $3 piece of wood. It doesn’t get much better than that! Now the real question is…what are you going to put in them?

More Planter Ideas:

DIY Wooden Planter Box | Herb Planter Box | DIY Privacy Screen with Hanging Planters | Easy DIY Modern Plant stands | 50+ DIY Planter Ideas

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