Remember when I gave the gatehouse a mini-makeover?

Oh, good.

It was only last week.

I wanted to add two planter boxes to either side of the front door.  I knew the size I wanted them.  I knew the color I wanted them.  I knew I wanted them to hold two over-sized tree topiaries.

But one thing I didn’t know….

….was that to buy them would cost and arm and a leg and maybe a few other extremities.

I found similar planter boxes to these for over a hundred dollars.


And they weren’t even the right color or the exact right size.

So I decided we could build them instead….

….and I would supervise.  🙂

How to Build a Decorative Planter Box for Under $30


4 pieces of 1/2″ plywood cut to 16″ x 22″

1 piece of 1/2″ plywood cut to 16 1/2″ x 16″ 1/2″

8 pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 17″pine

exterior white paint




Step 1:  Nail sides

Start by nailing two of the pieces of 1/2″ plywood cut to 16″ x 22″ together.

Line up the two of the pieces together at a right angle and nail together.

Repeat with each of the plywood pieces until you have a box.

2.  Nail bottom

Attach the bottom piece of 1/2″ plywood cut to 16 1/2″ x 16″ 1/2″to your nailed-together four sides.

The edge of the bottom of the planter should line up with the sides of the planter.

Nail bottom piece to the box.

3.  Sand any rough edges

When you are finished your plywood box will look like this.

Doesn’t it already look like a planter?

Sand off any of the rough edges and you are ready for the trim.

4.  Add trim

Attach 2 pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 17″ pine to the top of the box.

Line them up at a right angle, level with the top of the box and nail in place.

Repeat with the other pieces of pine until you have trim on all four sides of the box.

Sometimes your molding pieces may not match exactly.

They might look like this.

No worries.

That’s what caulk and paint are for.

Repeat the same steps with the bottom molding pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 17″ pine.

Nail them level with the bottom of the planter.

Attach each piece at a right angle.

5.  Prep the planter for painting

Sand off any rough edges.

Caulk the gaps.

Now the planter is ready to prime and paint.

6.  Prime and paint

Prime the planter.

Let dry.

Add two coats of an exterior white paint.  These planters are under the roof of the porch, but I wanted to make sure they held up to the elements.

After the paint dried, I added these tiny brass accents to the edge of the planter.

I’ve been thinking about adding a door pull to the front, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’m so happy with how the planters turned out.

The main cost for the planters was the wood.  I already had the paint and primer.

Total receipt from the home improvement store?


So much better than a $100.00.

And way cuter, too. 🙂

PS  For more gatehouse curb appeal tips, I posted the before and after and product details for the makeover on this post.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


    1. Image for shari shari

      Where did you get your kitty. It looks just like the one I had for 17 yrs. before she died and now I'm ready to get another one. Shari :)

  1. Image for Michelle Michelle

    So pretty and perfect! Love the brass accents and the idea for brass handles is also perfect -- easier to move them when you need to. Oops, I mean 'supervise' them being moved LOL

  2. Image for Margarita Margarita

    Great Idea for my back Yard. The planters in Ft. Lauderdale in FL. are super expensive, I mean this size they will charge not less the $150.00 minimum.

    1. Image for gina gina

      I live in the Ft. Lauderdale area, too, and agree with high price of planters. Would love to have my husband make these, but with our humid tropical climate and because my house is on the water, pressure treated plywood may be a good idea bc of pesky termites. These look so high end. Really nice!

  3. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Love the planters! I too have priced planter boxes and agree this is a much better solution!! Look beautiful!

  4. Image for Jill Brewster Jill Brewster

    Hi Kari Anne, I have a couple questions that I didn't see addressed. 1. Do you have the plants in a pot and just sitting in the planter or do you have soil in the planter box? 2. If you have them planted directly in soil in the planter box, did you drill holes in the bottom of the planter box for the water to drain? Thanks so much! Jill

  5. Image for Linda F Linda F

    Love the planters! I would take it one step further and add an X design to the sides to dress them up even more. Thanks for the great ideas.

  6. Image for Angie Burke Angie Burke

    Well, my husband now has a project for the weekend! I am thinking our boys can help build them too. It will be the perfect Mother's Day gift for me!! Thanks for the tutorial!

  7. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Thanks for the tutorial!! Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, as my students would say. I will have to make one. Love them!! Blessings!

  8. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne, you are indeed a very good supervisor....those turned out great! I love the crisp clean look of white, but I can see these in different colors too. Black, with a big decorative knocker in brass would be stunning. Or two simple brass rings, one one each side, would be the perfect way to pick them up and move them around as well as being an interesting detail. Good job!

  9. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    So very cute. I'm always about planter boxes...these would be pretty cute in black, if I can get my husband to help so I can supervise!

  10. Image for Sheree Thomas Sheree Thomas

    Thank you for sharing this post with the Simply Sweet Home Linky Party. You were my choice for this week's feature Friday. Such an amazing way to add a little curb appeal to your home.

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