Frugal Gardening: DIY Planter Box for $20

Some products in this article are from our partners. Read our Advertiser Discloser.


I recently launched a new spring series called Frugal Gardening. You can watch for new posts in this series each Monday and Friday and an update on my own garden each Tuesday. In case you missed them, you can go back and read previous posts and updates on my Frugal Gardening page.

How to Build Your Own Planter Box

My pal Susan recently told me she was planning on building some planter boxes for blueberry plants in her backyard.

Not only is Susan frugal, she’s also really handy, so I asked if she’d be able to document what she did so I could share it with you! (You might recall this post from awhile ago where she built her raised bed garden!) Note that today’s project will involve some tools and a little know-how.

She told me that she decided to model her boxes after these she spotted at Home Goods selling for $49.99:

IMAG0623 (611x800)

With that, I’ll give you Susan’s notes….

Supplies list (for one planter):

(1) 2″x2″x8 feet long (for legs)
(4) 1″x4″x8 feet long (for sides) [if you are building 2 planters, you can use 7 of them, you just have to be careful about your cuts]
(1) 1″x2″x2feet long for the cleats…or you can use the leftover 1×4 for the cleats (I just used a scrap from my garage)
Miter saw
(80) 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
kreg jig
(6) 1 1/4″ screws
stain or paint of your choice

Cut list:

2×2- cut (4) 23″ pieces for the legs


Step One. This first part might sound tricky, but it’s actually quite simple. Set your miter saw 7.5 degrees to the left of center. Cut the following utilizing this angle (which will give your planter box that nice taper).

The important part is to make your first cut, then flip the board over, measure the distance for your next cut from the longest point of the wood, and then do your next cut. This will make the ends taper in at the bottom. Remember, measure twice, cut once!

  • 1st 1×4- cut (4) 16 3/8″ and (2) 13 3/8″
  • 2nd 1×4- cut (4) 15 3/8″ and (2) 14 3/8″
  • 3rd 1×4- cut (2) 14 3/8″, (2) 13 3/8″, and (3) 12 3/8″
  • 4th 1×4- cut (1) 12 3/8″

If you did it correctly, the cut pieces will look like this:

13 - 6

(You may also want to cut ends of the legs at the 7.5 degree angle to assure they will sit squarely on the ground once assembled.)

Step Two. Put your miter saw back to zero degrees. Using the leftover 1×4, cut (3) 11 3/4″ pieces to use as bottom support for the dirt. Make 1×2 cut (2) 11 1/4″ for the cleats.

Step Three. Now you can begin to assemble the planter box! Start by building the sides. To do this, use your Kreg Jig set for 1 1/4″ screws, drill two holes at each end of each board. Lay out one leg and the 5 appropriate side slats (one of each length), making sure that the angle is smooth, and no edges jut out on either side. (I had to trim down a few of the boards shown in the picture to get a snug fit….that’s why measuring before you cut is so important!) Measure 3″ up each leg and make a mark to guide where the first slat will be attached. Put a 1/8″ spacer under the slats so there is a nice, even 1/8″ set back from the front of the leg (I used a scrap piece of board for this.) Attach slats to leg using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws, then attach second leg. Build the other side the same way with the last two legs. Attach the rest of the sides using the same method and pocket hole screws.

Here’s how one side will look with the boards added:

IMAG0628 (451x800)

Once you put all sides together, it will look like this:

IMAG0625 (539x800)

Step Four. Attach cleats: put cleats flush on bottom of 2 sides using 1 1/4″ screws and wood glue.

Now it’s coming together!

IMAG0634 (1)

IMAG0633 (451x800)

Step Five. Lay the support boards (I used scrap wood, not the 1x4s as in the instructions) down using the cleats to support; no need to secure these in place. You may want to drill extra drainage holes in the bottom.

13 - 7

Step Six. Sand and paint or stain as you wish.

Step Seven. Lay weedblocker cloth down in bottom.  I also stapled some plastic just around the inside (not bottom) to protect and extend the life of the wood.

Step Eight. Fill, plant, water, and watch it grow!

I built two planters; each one cost about $20 to make and took me approximately 2 hours (excluding paint/stain time).

Here is the finished product, used as blueberry containers:
IMAG0657 (800x428)

Note from Angela: I think they turned out fantastic, Susan – and I think they look exactly like the one you saw in the store you wanted! Check it out: