Create a simple driftwood planter out of scavenged driftwood and wood scraps. Easy, inexpensive and pretty.
Our garden, which lives on our deck, is constantly under attack from tiny hands. I want them out there with me, getting dirty, learning about planting, and being involved in the process, but it takes a toll. Especially from my one year old who has discovered that freshly planted plants come out in one big, exciting chunk. It’s because of all these reasons that I decided I would build them their own little garden. My intentions were to give them a space to play, practice planting, and bury cars in the name of potentially saving some of my plants.
I do a lot of planting in buckets since its cheap and easy, especially when getting them for free, but I wanted this to be special. I wanted it to be something they felt drawn to and excited to play in while still costing as little as possible.
Driftwood – 2 to 3 pieces for each side.
Scrap wood – 8 pieces approximately the height of your sides, and 4 rectangular pieces to fit into the inner corners.
Plants and seeds
I chose to make a simple driftwood planter. The driftwood aesthetic is really cute and depending on where you live it can be really cheap and easy to source. Around here, being surrounded on three sides by ocean, it’s extremely abundant. Once I had my mind set we headed down to the beach.
Because of the large variations in driftwood I can’t give any direct measurements. Just like the driftwood itself, every creation is going to be different.
How to make a driftwood planter.
- Gather materials, driftwood, any scrap wood and screws. Find flat pieces of driftwood in approximately the sizes you want, making sure you have enough for 2 long sides and two short sides. This planter doesn’t have a wooden bottom.
- Build the sides. Align your side pieces as you want them, this may take some playing around with since all pieces are different. When they are the way you want them, flip them over so you have the back facing up.
- Take two small pieces of scrap wood and line them up on the back, one on the left side and the other on the right. Screw it into each piece of driftwood. This is what will hold your sides together.
- Build two of the parallel sides first. Set up the other two sides. It’s helpful to stand them up and see how they will fit as you go to ensure the best possible fit.
- Once all 4 sides are built stand them up together, (another set of hands are helpful) fit your rectangular scrap pieces into the inside of the corner so it has as much surface contact with both sides. Do one piece at a time starting with the front piece.
- Lay the front piece down and screw the scrap rectangle into it. Line it up with the other side and do the same.
- Do the same with the back piece.
- Stand the front and back piece up and line up one side at a time. Screw the sides into the scrap rectangles from the outside. This completes the walls.
- Make, or find, a liner. Use a reusable bag if its the right size, or sew a simple box structure with 4 sides and a base.
- Place your planter upside down and staple in the liner inside out at the top. Turn it right side up and push the liner down inside. Fill with soil and plant!
Gathering the driftwood
When gathering the wood for the this planter there are a couple things you need to look for.
- All the pieces need to have the same general shape, you are looking for long fairly thin pieces.
- You need the lengths to be the same, or similar. The front and back need to be the same size so the pieces should be roughly the same length. Same goes for the other two sides. I made a rectangle so the sides where shorter than the front and back.
For the scrap wood I used wooden stakes I had then cut them in half. Then for the pieces for the inside corners I used chunks cut off of left over ends of 2x4s from previous projects.
When I first set out to do this project I had intended to use a reusable bag but when it came time to put it in the only one that was big enough was one that I wasn’t willing to part with.
Since my garden is actually a deck I wanted a hardy liner. If it was going on the ground I might have gone with burlap but instead I used a large piece of leftover felt, hence the bight orange colour.
To sew a liner measure the bottom of your planter and the sides. Cut one piece for your base to your measurements with added seam allowance. Then cut to the size of your front and to the size of your sides again adding in a seam allowance. For mine I use a 1cm seam allowance so I add 2cm to the length and 2 cm to the width of each piece. Sew the sides all together then sew the bottom on.
Check out my post about making these newspaper seed starters, a great task to keep tiny hands busy, and start the seeds for their very own garden.
Here is the fun part! Well one of them, PLANTING. Since this garden is for the kids I only put in a few things. We had a couple experiments growing in starters that we planted in here, with some cat grass since it germinates fast, some radishes and an onion that had been torn out multiple times from my onion planter. I have no expectation that anything will grow successfully in here but I keep a few seeds going in small pots to transplant in every week or so to refresh it and keep it fun.
My son also likes to occasionally put seeds in. I’ve found once he gets the idea in his head that he needs to plant some seeds it’s better to just go with it. I give him mustard seeds from the kitchen spice cabinet which to my surprise are actually growing even through all the disturbances of my children.
I had my 3 year old help me with every step of this project. He was the one who held the sides up while I fit them, he picked out the screws for me, and of course he helped me pick the wood out to begin with so decorating was no different. We took more driftwood and scrap wood and painted them up with acrylic paints. Some got letters, some got numbers, we even made a driftwood chime in rainbow colours to hang over top. The options are endless and so much fun.
I love the natural shapes of the driftwood mixed with the bright colours. We plan on making more in the future, maybe even add in a fairy garden to it. What kind of things would you make for a kids garden?
You can make driftwood planters for anyone in your house, not just the kids. If you have the resources you could even make driftwood raised garden beds! Just make sure they are sturdy and skip the fabric liner.
More tiny hands in the dirt, I love it so much.