Wooden Planters with Built-In Posts for Hanging String Lights
I love how these planters have built in poles for string lights: we can plant them with summer flowers and enjoy the ambiance of string lights at night!
Earlier in the summer, one of my friends asked whether I’d ever used concrete to make a planter with a pole for holding up string lights. My answer was nope, but… I offered to make one out of wood so it would be a little more stylish and a little less heavy. Thanks so much to those of you asking about the instructions… hopefully these make sense, but leave a comment with ANY questions! Unfortunately when I build I kind of make it up as I go so it’s not always so easy to write up when all’s said and done.
Materials for 16x16x16 Planter
• 2×3 for the underlying frame
• 1×4 for the side slats
• 2×2 for the center pole
• 1×2 to support the pole inside the planter
• 1×3 for the top rim
• Simpson Strong Tie Right Angle
• Eye hook
• Quick link
• Paint/ Stain
• Caulk/ Wood fill
• Wood Glue
• (Optional) Plastic/ staple gun
• Kreg Pocket Hole system
• Brad nailer
• Also shown: Ryobi Pressure Washer
Essentially, I made a box out of the 2x3s and then covered them with 1×4 slats. The planter I made was 16 x 16 x 16 so I started by cutting the 2x3s as follows:
(4) 11-inch lengths
(4) 13-inch lengths
(4) 16-inch lengths
Step 1: Build the Planter Frame
To build the planter frame, I used my Kreg jig and made a pair of pocket holes in either end of the 11-inch pieces AND either end of the 13-inch pieces.
I assembled the two planter ends first as shown using the 16″ lengths and the 11″ lengths. Note that I attached the lower edge of the planter about one inch high up the sides to protect it a bit from moisture on the ground. Essentially, I gave my planters little ‘feet’.
Once either end was assembled, I attached the four 13-inch lengths to each corner. I get a little lazy when screwing together my Kreg joints so I don’t clamp as often as I should. I used my body weight so I drill down into the material on the table. In other words, I screwed the four 13-inch lengths down into one end of the planter, then I inverted this entire thing on top of the other end. (It looked like a table was resting on top of the second end of the planter.)
Step 2: Add slats
For the slats, I set my miter saw to 45 degrees and started by measuring the width of the planter and cutting the shortest side of the mitered slat to this length… but I found that it was ultimately easier just to mark the boards to fit and cut each one accordingly.
To attach the slats, I applied wood glue and then used my pneumatic brad nailer. I used a piece of scrap wood as a spacer, but there’s no reason you can’t just use a ruler if scrap wood doesn’t provide the right spacing to fit your planter.
Step 3. Add Top Edge
With all the slats attached, I realized that the top edge of the planter looked a little sloppy. A 1×3 was essentially the perfect size for a top edge, so back to The Home Depot I went and grabbed two 1x3s. Again, I mitered the edges and dry fit the boards, then went back over with wood glue and my brad nailer.
Step 4. Fill in wood holes and seams
Keeping the planter as water tight as possible was a goal of mine to prevent wood rod, so I was careful to fill in all the wood holes and caulk any exposed seams. (I used this caulk.)
Step 5. Paint the Planters
My friend wanted them painted white so that was an added layer of protection from the elements. I set up my Homeright Spray Tent and painted the planters with this, and then stained the posts to match her existing patio furniture.
Step 6. Secure the Light Pole
This is the point of the planter build that I had to figure out how I was going to secure the light pole. The poles were 8-feet long so I new they had the potential to be really tippy… I wanted to secure them well in two spots on the planter to help disperse the weight. I had some Simpson strong tie right angle brackets that fit the pole perfectly. For the first point of attachment, I added a 2×3 with pocket holes to the bottom of the planter (pictured below… the planter is upside down in this photo). For the second point of attachment, I screwed a pair of 1x2s along the underside of the top edge. Make sure that the pole is centered not only along the bottom 2×3, but also that it’s pinched securely between the centered 1x2s as well.
The last thing I did, which is hard to see in these pictures, is I added some scrap lumber (a 1×5 I believe)to the bottom of the planter to help keep the soil/ plants in place. Also, because my friend wanted to plant directly into the planter (vs. just placing potted plants inside), I stapled some heavy duty plastic around the inside perimeter to keep the dirt from falling out between the slats. It also keeps the wet dirt from sitting right up against the wood which would increase the likelihood of rot.
You can attach your string lights anyway you like. For this planter, we used an eye hook and these quick links. Before we set up the planters, I wanted to clean off the patio a bit, so I pulled out my most favorite of outdoor tools… my power washer! This one by Ryobi is SO easy to use and it just plugs in to an outlet, connects to the garden hose and… voila. The before and after is SO worth it!
I LOVE the way these planters turned out! They’re a great portable way to hang string lights AND decorate the patio. This design could be easily modified to a different size planter depending upon the size of your space. One of the added benefits to this design is that the planters looks just as nice during the day as it does when it’s illuminated at night!