mark rason planter

DIY expert Mark Rason on how to create your own outdoor planter this weekend

Mark Rason is an expert DIY’er and self-taught woodworker and carpenter who frequently shares his tips and tricks on building high-quality, hand-crafted products on social media. He is also the project manager for Scott McGillivray’s Youtube series called Scott’s House CallFollow him at @remarkableworks to discover new ideas and inspiration.

Stuck at home this weekend (again)? Why not tackle your own DIY planter! From green thumbs to first-time gardeners, building your own planter is straightforward and can even be a fun project for the whole family. I just finished building a planter for my young daughter this month, and now she can’t wait to start seeing her flowers grow this summer. Ready to start your own? Here are some things to keep in mind.


Before you start building, think about where your planter will live. Of course, plants need sunlight to grow, but too much sunlight can be damaging. Keep in mind that sunlight in the morning isn’t as intense and harmful as the sunlight in the afternoon. So, if you are buying plants that require full sun (like lavender), then ideally, they need eight to 10 hours of sunlight per day. On the other hand, partial shade or partial sun plants (such as begonias) only need three to six hours of sunlight per day.


A common misconception is that raised planters need to be large. But in fact, you can design any type of planter to fit your space, from a condo balcony to your front porch. Make it work for what you have. One important factor that determines size is the type of plants you want to grow. For example, annuals require much less soil than perennials do. And, don’t forget to create enough depth to allow for healthy root growth. As a general rule of thumb, small plants require 10 inches of depth. Give larger plants or vegetables a comfortable 15 inches of depth.


outdoor planter
Rason’s geometric-shaped planter


The two most popular planter shapes are rectangles and squares, however, the design possibilities are endless and can absolutely be left to personal preferences. I created a geometric-shaped planter, which has turned into a great conversation piece with my neighbours as it sits on my front porch. Get creative with it. Some planters have legs, some do not. Some are hung, while some are in the ground. There are no major pros or cons to any style!


Planters can be built with either plastic or wood, but I always recommend using wood. Aside from affordability, wood is incredibly versatile, retains water very well, and can match any design style, whether you want a rustic or urban look. My personal favourite material is MicroPro Sienna. This eco-friendly pressure treated wood is completely safe to build planters with and very affordable as well (at about half the price of cedar). Remember to use fasteners that have been coated and recommended for exterior use.


Lastly, the most important thing to remember is proper drainage! Ensure that you have designed adequate holes or at least created a space that allows for drainage. Too much moisture that accumulates at the bottom will damage roots and prevent your plants from growing. Even if the soil surface appears dry, the soil at the bottom of the planter may still be very wet. Drainage holes can simply be created with a drill, and generally speaking, should be smaller than a quarter-inch. Anything larger than a quarter-inch could cause too much soil to escape.

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