planter box planter box Ilana Strauss shows how easy it is to make your own planter box. (Photo: Jason Wahto)

DIY: How to make a planter box out of an old shelf

Video shows that making your own furniture is cheaper, greener and more fun than buying new.

Why go to a store and buy a planter box or flowerpot when you can make one for free? Making your own stuff from recycled materials is better for the planet, way less expensive and more fun than buying new. Plus, research shows that we enjoy things we make ourselves more than things we buy.

Best of all, it's surprisingly easy. I'm not an experienced carpenter or gardener, and I came up with this planter box, complete with a painting based on Jerusalem buildings and Israeli olive groves.

Convinced? Shocked? Intrigued? Happy to hear it. You'll need:

  • an old shelf
  • gesso (white acrylic paint)
  • colorful acrylic paints
  • fixative
  • paintbrushes
  • drill
  • waterproofing spray
  • plants or seeds
  • potting soil
  • planter rocks

First, find an old shelf. Maybe you have one, or maybe you'll grab one that someone left on a curb because they obviously haven't read this article yet.

If you want to decorate it (and you totally should), paint the whole thing white with gesso – that'll give you a solid base to start with. Then grab some more colors and tap into your inner artist/child/fingerpaint enthusiast. Even if you're not an artist, just about anything you paint will look lovely on a planter box, since so many flowerpots are just plain boring.

Afterwards, spray the box with fixative to make sure that your glorious artwork is protected from the elements. This step isn't 100 percent necessary since acrylic paint is waterproof, but I did it just in case.

You're going to need to drill some holes at the bottom of the box next so that water can drain out when you water your flowers/herbs/alien plant creatures. No worries if you're not handy with tools; randomly drilling holes is about the easiest drill-related thing you can do. Trust me; I know nothing about drills.

Then waterproof your shelf so the rain doesn't destroy it.

Planting time! Figure out what you want to plant and follow the instructions for how to plant it. There's a good chance it'll go something like this: Spread rocks across the bottom of the box (try to get more rocks than I did – curse you, bags of rocks on Amazon that look bigger online than they really are). Add potting soil on top, then dig a small hole and place your plant inside.

Happy gardening!


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows
DIY: How to make a planter box out of an old shelf
Whether you're planning on planting flowers or food, making your own flowerpots and planter boxes is cheaper, greener and more fun than buying new.