This project was sponsored by Cabot. All opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure.
The back of our house has some meters and pipes and serves as the place where we hide our trash cans. The problem? It’s ugly and it can easily be seen from our DIY patio.
The solution? Hide it all with a pretty DIY wood slat privacy screen! Then take it up a notch and add a huge planter to it. The ugly corner then transforms into a beautiful feature.
Let’s start DIYing!
P.S. We also have plans for matching planters without the privacy screen!
- Nail Gun
- Staple Gun
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw
- Table Saw
- Kreg Jig
New to DIY? Check out our post on beginner woodworking tools to determine which tools to get!
What You’ll Need:
Quantities may vary based on the size of your structure. Here’s what we used for our 8ft wide and 74” tall privacy screen:
- (2) 4x4x8 pressure-treated wood
- (7) 2x4x8 pressure-treated wood
- (22) 1x4x8 pressure-treated wood (we cut each of these into (2) 1×2 pieces. If you don’t have a table saw, you can get 44 1x2s instead)
- (2) 5/4x6x8 deck boards
- 2” nails
- 2.5” exterior wood screws
- 2.5” exterior Kreg screws
- Clear construction adhesive
- 4 bags of fast setting quickcrete
- 10’x25’ construction film (for lining the planter)
- Landscape fabric
- 1 gallon of Cabot Semi-Sold Stain and Sealer in Black
How to Build a Wood Slat Wall with Planters
STEP 1: POSITION YOUR 4×4 POSTS
Before digging your posts, call 811 to have someone come mark any cables that might be close to your digging area. You don’t want to accidentally cut a line to something important!
Dig two holes that are approximately 12” wide and 24” deep for your 4×4 posts. If you are using posts that are larger than 8’ tall, look up the standard practice for your particular-sized post.
Once dug, add a small layer of rock to the bottom of the hole. This will help prevent the post from rotting since the post won’t be in direct contact with the wet soil.
Check to see if the posts are level and straight. We put a 2×4 on top of both the posts and then placed the level on it to see how lined up the posts were. If one post is higher than the other, add or take away rock from one of the holes.
Once it’s looking pretty even, pour two to three bags of Quickcrete into each of the holes. Check again to make sure that the posts are level and straight.
Once you’re happy with the 4×4 placement, add water to the Quickcrete and let it dry.
Note: From outside edge to outside edge, our posts were 94.5” wide. If possible, you don’t want yours to be any wider than this or you’ll need to buy 10’ boards to make everything work. Ours was as wide as possible while still being able to use 8’ boards on the planter and horizontal slats.
STEP 2: CUT DOWN YOUR HORIZONTAL SLATS
Even though we won’t be using the slats until a bit later in the project, you’ll want to cut them down early so that they are ready and can continue to dry out. Oftentimes, pressure-treated lumber is a bit damp when you buy it, so you need to let it dry out before staining or assembling anything.
Using the table saw, we cut each 1×4 into (2) 1.5” wide pieces.
STEP 3: MAKE PLANTER BASE
Planter Build Step 1: Cut 2x4s to Size
You want the planter box to be the same width as the posts you positioned in step 1. Our distance was 94.5”.
Here are the cuts we made to make our overall planter box 94.5” wide x 24” tall x 15” deep.
(4) – 94.5”
(9) – 12”
(10) – 17”
You can also cut down your 5/4 x 6 boards to 94.5”.
Planter Build Step 2: Drill Pocket Holes
Using the 1.5” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on either end of the 12” and 17” boards.
Planter Build Step 3: Assemble the Front and Back
The front and back are identical structures. Each one consists of (2) 94.5” pieces and (5) 17” pieces
Use glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws to assemble. A 17” piece should be flush with either end of the 94.5” pieces. The remaining pieces should have 19.25” between them.
Planter Build Step 4: Attach the Sides and Middle Supports to the Front
The planter box appears to be 24” tall, but we only want about 12-14” of that to be filled with drainage rocks and dirt. To accomplish this, we’re going to add middle support boards to divide the structure.
Decide how deep you want your planter to be and then add 1”. Cut a scrap piece of wood down to that size to act as a spacer.
Use glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws to attach the middle supports to the 17” pieces. Line the scrap piece up with the top of the front to give you consistent spacing without needing to measure.
Attach (2) 17″ pieces to either end to create the sides of the planter.
Planter Build Step 5: Attach the Back
Now line the back up with the side and middle support boards. Secure with glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws.
Place your planter aside for now. We’ll come back to it after we stain.
STEP 4: SAND YOUR WOOD
For exterior projects, I generally do a quick sand with 120 grit sandpaper to make sure everything is nice and smooth and free from splinters.
STEP 5: STAIN YOUR WOOD
We’re using Cabot Semi-Solid Stain and Sealer on this project. You get great protection in just one coat. Durability depends on weather and other factors, but we shouldn’t have to re-apply for 5-10 years!
The semi-solid is also a super unique finish. It’s more opaque than a traditional stain, but isn’t fully solid like paint or a solid stain. The grain and uniqueness of each wood piece still gets to subtly shine through!
To apply, we used our Cabot staining pad. The staining pad is made for deck boards, but it works great for this project as well. The handle of the staining pad is also pretty neat–you can adjust the angle to your liking and then lock it into place!
For the slats, we didn’t worry about staining the end grains just yet. We’re going to cut boards down after staining, so there’s no need to worry about them now.
Between staining the entire structure and all of the slats, we used up a little less than half of the gallon of stain. This stuff goes a long way!
STEP 6: LINE THE PLANTER BOX
Once your stain is dry, secure the 5/4×6 boards to the top of the middle supports using glue and 2” nails. Leave a gap between the two boards.
Then cut your tarp aka construction film to the size you need to line the inside of your planter. Normal scissors might have trouble cutting through it. We used our PowerCut Snips to make our cuts.
Secure the tarp with staples around the inside of the planter.
Once secured, cut a few holes in the bottom of the tarp (line them up with the gap between the two boards) for drainage.
Note: after installing all the slats, we also decided to line the bottom of the front of the planter. There were only a few slats you could see between in the planter, so we lined the bottom so that the whole planter was black and no light shined through. It’d be much easier to line now instead of later!
STEP 7: ATTACH PLANTER BOX TO POSTS
Note: if your structure is close to a wall like ours, you might want to attach the side slats of the planter before securing the planter box to the posts.
Lay down some landscape fabric between the 4×4 posts to prevent weeds from growing beneath and around the planter. We cut ours to be about a foot deeper than the planter box, so that we could put some Mexican pebbles directly in front of the planter once finished. They look pretty and prevent us from having to weed wack around the planter wall.
To attach the planter box, make sure it is level and then secure with 2.5” screws into the 4×4 posts.
STEP 8: ADD A VERTICAL SUPPORT BOARD
Some of our 1×2 slats are warped, so we’re going to add in a vertical support board halfway between the posts. Cut a 2×4 to be the same height as the 4×4 posts.
Secure to the center of the back of the planter with 2.5” screws.
STEP 9: ATTACH SLATS TO POSTS
We ended up cutting our slats down after hanging them up. It seemed like a great idea in theory and it mostly was, but it did require the use of a multi-tool and a circular saw. The planter got in the way of the circular saw on the bottom 3 slats, so we had to use the multi-tool there instead.
If you aren’t comfortable with a circular saw or don’t have a multi-tool, no problem, you can cut your slats on the miter saw before hanging them up.
The reason we chose to cut them after was to save time and because the 4×4 posts tend to vary in their sizing. If you cut all your boards prior to hanging them, be sure to measure in multiple places. You might find that you need some boards to be ¼” shorter or longer.
To attach the slats, we’ll use construction adhesive and 2” nails. First clamp a spare board onto the side of one of the 4×4 posts. This will act as a stop to quickly keep all of your slats lined up on one side.
Next grab something that is ½” to act as a spacer. We used a scrap piece of wood.
To install, line your slat up with the side of the 4×4 post and apply construction adhesive to the slats in the areas that will touch the 2×4 and 4×4 boards.
Install your top piece flush with the top of the 4×4 posts and the vertical 2×4 support.
For the remaining slats, place your spacer between the previously secured board and the board you’re installing. Press up on the board you’re installing to make sure there isn’t an additional space and then add 2 nails into each of the posts. Alternate angles of your nail gun for a more secure hold.
Repeat this process until you reach the top of the planter.
Once you’re finished installing the slats, mark where the slats meet the edge of the 4×4 post. Adjust your circular saw so that it only cuts through the thickness of the slats and then cut along your line.
STEP 10: ATTACH SLATS TO THE PLANTER
Cut your slats down for the sides of the planters. We had our slats go from the front of the planter to the back of the 4×4 posts, making ours approximately 18.5” long.
We clamped a spare board to our miter saw stand to create a stop. This allowed us to quickly and accurately cut down each piece without needing to measure each board.
Once you have your pieces cut, clamp a spare board to the front of the planter to keep everything lined up and then construction adhesive and nail the slats into place. Use a ½” spacer like we did on the slat wall.
Finally, attach the slats to the front of the planter using construction adhesive and nails. Our front slats ended up needing to be 8’ long, so we didn’t have to cut the boards down.
STEP 11: TOUCH UP STAIN
Since we cut some boards after staining, we need to stain the ends that were cut. I used a clean rag for this.
There you have it! Now all you need are some beautiful plants to complete your new wood slat privacy screen and planter! As you’re picking them out, don’t forget about the climbing plants. The slat wall doubles as a privacy maker and a trellis.
P.S. If you’re using this to block trash cans, I’d recommend reducing the amount of space between your boards to 1/3 or 1/4″ instead of 1/2″.