The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

Katrina Sullivan

Article Posted By: Katrina Sullivan

of Chic Little House

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

This chic concrete planter has a secret. It’s not nearly as heavy as it looks. It’s actually an overlay of concrete on a plywood box. It’s easy to build, too.

Katrina Sullivan of Chic Little House created the planter especially for our DIY Challenge here on The Home Depot Blog. We asked to create a DIY project to show just how easy it is to use concrete for something other than a driveway or sidewalk. Her concrete planter is totally on-trend, too, with it’s solid look and appealing texture. She added a trellis to the planter to complete the project.

Just follow Katrina’s step-by-step tutorial to build a concrete planter like this for your patio.

Modern Concrete Planter Made Easy

When I found out my challenge material for the DIY Challenge was concrete, I was a little nervous. I’ve never worked with concrete before, but I quickly moved past my fears and started brainstorming project ideas.

I decided to make a modern concrete planter and build a redwood trellis to go with it. I love having plants, outside each door at my house, and thought a concrete planter outside my bedroom French doors would a great addition. I love the clean lines and look of concrete planters, with lush foliage growing inside.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

My plan was to make a modern rectangle planter without weight of concrete that would be easy to move.

I’ve seen some amazing DIY concrete countertop makeovers, where homeowners have used a concrete feather finish to cover outdated laminate counters, and I decided to take a similar approach for my planter.

I love the idea of transforming a wood planter by adding a concrete overlay, so the planter looks like it’s made from solid concrete, without the heft.

This being my first time working with concrete, I was a little nervous about taking my plan from conception into reality. However, it didn’t take very long to get the hang of mixing and spreading concrete; seriously it’s like mixing pancake batter on Sunday mornings. I’m so happy with how the planter come outs, it looks so good in our garden bed.

Materials for Easy Concrete Planter DIY


Cut List for Plywood

  • (2) 23½ x 16
  • (2) 1 x 16

Cut List for Trellis

  • Cut 1 x 2s into 23½ in. slats
  • Cut 2 x 2 in 36 in. pieces

Step 1: Build the Wood Planter Base

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

Build your rectangle plywood planter; attach the front panels to the side.

I used my nail gun to attached the all the pieces.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

Once the planter box is built, screw the fence slats into the bottom using deck screws.

I wanted to raise my planter off the ground a bit to allow for better drainage, so I added bottom 1 x 1 boards.

Next, I applied the drywall to the bottom sides of planter to cover the screws.

Step 2: Mix the Cement and Apply the Overlay

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

I bought a couple 1 quart mixing tubs, which are perfect for mixing small amount of concrete. I followed the instructions on the Rapid Set box, and mixed 4 parts mix to 1 part water.

The Rapid Set powder is very fine; it reminds me of pancake mix– the more water you add, the smoother and finer the mix becomes.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

I mixed the cement and water using the little trowel I bought from The Home Depot.

Make sure you mix your cement really good so it’s nice and smooth and without clumps. Any time I saw clumps in my cement, it was a sign to keep mixing.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

I applied the cement mixture to the plywood using the drywall taping knife to help spread the concrete overlay on my planter.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

To keep the mess contained, I used placed a drop cloth over my patio.

The cement dries to the touch in 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve applied the overlay. The concrete is a soft grey when completely dry.

Step 3: Brush on the Finish

To get my concrete overlay to look smoother, I did a final paint brush washing coat.

I made a watery coat of concrete mix and painted the mixture on using a cheap nylon brush. The final paint brush coat allowed me to create a nice uniform look to the concrete.

Step 4: Build the Slat Trellis

I love the look of modern slat trellises and knew that style would complement the look of the concrete planter.

Building this trellis style was super easy, and makes me get excited to tackle a few more modern trellises in our backyard!

I placed the redwood 2 x 2 inside the planter, and secured to the lumber from outside using deck screws.

The deck screws went through the concrete overlay without causing any cracks.

Once both 2 x 2 were attached to the trellis, I attached each cut wood slat using my staple gun. I marked the location off each board, and then in about five minutes I was done!

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

To line the inside of your planter, you can use weed barrier, plastic or place the plants in large nursery planters. The Home Depot carries a variety of nursery planters than can easily fit inside the concrete planter.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter and Trellis

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter and Trellis

I’m seriously thrilled with how my concrete planter came out, and thrilled the using Rapid Set Concrete mix as an overlay made this project stress-free, fun and quick!

Inside the planter, I added a mixture of vines, perennials and succulents. I love the trailing succulents, in the front of the planter they are going to look even better was they grow in over time.

The Easy Way to Build a Concrete Planter

Katrina Sullivan is a Northern California native, wife to Hasani and mother of two delightful boys. Katrina shares her DIY projects and ongoing home renovations on her blog Chic Little House.

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