Add drainage to the bottom and then potting soil.
How do you spend a lazy afternoon? Do you wander around your local Home Depot looking for things to repurpose? Sadly, that passes for excitement in my book (I'm a cheap date) and so, one slow summer afternoon a few weeks ago, I left the orange giant with a few items strapped to my scooter. This summer finds me with a new apartment, and with it comes a deck that's ginormous by most standards and ridiculously unheard of by Chicago standards. I was looking for inexpensive planters to help fill the space and apparently, such things are also unheard of if you're looking for something that doesn't look like plastic terracotta.
Instead, I picked up a cement form at my local hardware store and for less than 20 bucks, I was able to put something together that I felt confident about displaying in public without apology. Although these photographs don't document the final spot for this creation Iit could use more sun), I still wanted to share this process in case anyone is still itching to get some planting done.
Since these photos were taken, the piece did receive an additional coat of paint to cover the end seams a bit better. Here's to showing your flaws and hoping I can inspire someone else to make a 6 foot planter for less than $20!
What You Need
6 foot cement form
All-weather epoxy or super glue
1 quart outdoor enamel paint
3 sponge brushes (one for each coat)
2 large bags of potting soil
6 feet of plastic drainage squares or lava rock
2 plastic plant drip trays
Assorted herbs or annuals
1. Cut Holes In Cement Form: Start with a pencil and sketch out where you'd like your holes to go. I made kidney bean shapes and a few drainage holes along the bottom about the size of quarters (not pictured). Although the cement form seems a little daunting, I found it rather efficient to cut it with a pocket knife. I'm sure you could use an electric tool of some sort, but this worked for me.
2. Time To Paint!: I ran a piece of rope through each end to suspend the piece over the corner of my deck so I could paint it all the way around for each coat. Plastic sheeting under the planter would have been smart to catch drips. I did take 3 coats of paint to cover the original lettering on the outside of the form. For each coat I used a new foam brush. I know the $0.33 was a big expense, but when it comes to enamel paint, I have little to no patience for clean up!
3. Glue On The Ends: I found two plastic drip trays at Home Depot that fit perfectly in each end. I applied a bead of super glue (or all weather epoxy) around the rim of each tray and placed it inside. I weighted it down with my bottle of hand soap from the counter and let it dry overnight. When dry, I trimmed the ends down to the end of the form and then gave it one more coat of paint to cover the blemishes.
4. Line It With Plastic: This is the most important step of the entire process. In order for this bad boy to be water tight, it needs to have a liner on the inside. I opened my inexpensive plastic painter's drop cloth and placed it on the inside and cut it to size. Make sure to glue around each opening and allow to set before continuing.
5. Fill It Up!: In order for this planter to have proper drainage so plants don't get soggy roots I used a layer of drainage barrier. I picked mine up from Sprout Home in Chicago for cheap. It's lighter than rock and much easier to haul home and work with. Next came soil and then finally plants!
6. Water: I found that watering the openings on the top of the planter first is the best place to start, as the water drains down. Water each opening once a day to keep happy, healthy plants all summer long!
Notes: Double check that all openings are sealed with all-weather epoxy and all exterior surfaces are painted with enamel paint. If they aren't this will become a stable, but sort of soggy mess within a few weeks.
(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)