Catlin Ketcham’s recent backyard makeover for The Home Depot Blog’s Patio Style Challenge series featured several DIY projects. Caitlin’s the designer and blogger behind Desert Domicile, and here she has a tutorial for a vertical succulent garden that decorates her front porch.
You can make this 2 x 2 ft. hanging succulent garden yourself. Just follow Caitlin’s step-by-step instructions.
Vertical Succulent Garden Tutorial
- Measuring tape
- Straight edge
- Compound miter saw
- Jig saw
- Table saw
- Pneumatic brad nailer with 1¼-in. brad nails
- Staple gun with ¼-in. staples
- Philips head drill bit
- 9/64-in. drill bit
- ¼-in. paddle bit
- Wire snips
- Scissors or a utility knife
- Safety goggles
- Ear protection
- 1 – 2-ft. x 4-ft. piece of ¼-in. thick cedar plywood (for back piece, cut to 2-ft. x 2-ft.)
- 4 – 1 x 6 pieces of cedar fence boards (for frame, cut to 23½ inches)
- 4 – 1 x 4 pieces of cedar closet planks (for fascia, cut to 24 inches)
- Wood glue
- Chicken wire
- Landscape fabric (also known as weed cloth)
- Work gloves
- Variety of succulents
- Moisture Control Potting Mix
- Cactus, Palm and Citrus Soil
- ½-in. rope
- 2 – ¾-in. eye hooks
- 4 – 1½-in. zinc corner braces with screws
Step 1 – Determine size of box and mark back piece
Determine the size of your vertical succulent garden. Keep in mind that larger gardens require more succulents and more care! I made mine 2 ft. x 2 ft. After you’ve decided on a size, use a tape measure to measure out the size of your box on your piece of cedar plywood.
Step 2 – Measure and mark box edges
Grab your 1 x 6 cedar fence boards and use a tape measure to measure out 23½ inches. Mark this measurement with a pencil and repeat the process for the remaining three fence boards.
Note: The reason we’re marking each fence board at 23½ in. instead of 24 in. (the size of our box) is because each fence board is ½ in. thick. 23½ in. length + ½ in. thickness = 24 in. total. :)
Step 3 – Measure and mark box fascia
Grab your 1 x 4 cedar closet planks and use a tape measure to measure out 24 inches. Mark this measurement with a pencil and repeat the process for the remaining three cedar planks.
Step 4 – Cut out back piece (1)
After all of your pieces have been measured and marked, it’s time to start cutting!
Use a jigsaw or table saw to cut along the lines you marked and set it aside.
Step 5 – Cut 1 x 6 box edges (4)
Keep your safety goggles and ear protection on to cut each of your 1 x 6 cedar fence boards.
Use a compound miter saw to cut each piece (four total) down to 23½ in.
Step 6 – Rip fascia boards (4)
Are you still wearing your safety googles and ear protection? Good! Let’s go ahead and rip our cedar closet planks down.
Use a table saw to trim the ¼-in. grooved edge off each plank (four total).
Step 7 – Cut fascia boards with miter saw
We’re still cutting things so your safety gear should still be on! Set your compound miter saw to a 45-degree angle, and cut each cedar plank down to 24 in. from short end to short end. These are the boards that will “frame” the succulent box.
Tip: Miter cuts can be a little tricky if you’re not used to making them. I like to cut one end of my board off first and then make my total measurement (24 in. for example) from the short end of the miter cut.
Step 8 – Drill drainage holes (5)
These holes will provide some drainage at the bottom of the planter so your succulents’ roots aren’t sitting in water and rotting out.
Step 9 – Assemble planter box from 1 x 6’s
Apply a bead of wood glue to one end of one 1 x 6 cedar fence board.
Use a pneumatic nail gun that’s pre-loaded with 1¼-in. brad nails to nail the two pieces together. It’s best to do this on a flat work surface so none of the boards shifts. Assemble each of the four pieces in a “chasing butt joint” design. When you’ve finished, set your box aside so the wood glue can dry.
Step 10 – Assemble fascia
We’re going to be working from the back side to assemble the fascia.
Decide on which side of the closet planks you’d like to face you when you look at your garden. Put these pieces face-down on the ground, forming a square frame.
Apply a bead of wood glue to one end of one 1 x 4 cedar closet plank. Place another cedar closet plank next to the one you just glued, forming a 90-degree angle.
Repeat this process until your square frame is complete.
Set it aside so the wood glue can dry.
Step 11 – Glue fascia to front of planter box
When the wood glue has dried, apply a bead of wood glue to the top edge of the box you created back in Step 9.
Flip the box over and place it on the back of the square frame you finished assembling in the previous step. Move it around until you like the placement and then press the box in place.
Place something heavy on the four corners of the back of the box (I used large rocks), and let everything dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 12 – Nail fascia to front of planter box
Step 13 – Add corner braces to box interior
Now we’re going to add some extra support to the interior of the box. Grab your four corner braces, screws for the braces, a drill, and a Philips head drill bit.
Center the corner braces in each corner of your planter box (four total) and screw them in place.
Flip your box back over so the front frame is facing the ground again.
Step 14 – Line box with chicken wire
Chicken wire is very sharp so you’re going to want to wear a pair of work gloves (and maybe long sleeves) while handling it. Unroll the wire and measure out a 29 in. square. We want the wire to be a little larger than the size of our box so we can run it up the sides for extra support.
Use wire snips to cut the chicken wire.
Loosely drape the chicken wire over the top of your box, centering it as best you can. Push the chicken wire down into the box and crease it along the edges where the box frame meets the front frame.
Use a staple gun that’s pre-loaded with ¼-in. staples to staple the chicken wire to the sides of your box. Make sure the chicken wire is secure and add more staples as needed.
Step 15 – Line box with landscape fabric
Keep your gloves on for this step! Unroll your landscape fabric (also known as weed cloth), and cut out a piece that’s roughly 30-in. square.
Loosely drape the landscape cloth over the top of your box, centering it as best you can. Push it down into the box, making sure it gets into the corners. Use a staple gun that’s pre-loaded with ¼-in. staples to staple the landscape cloth to the sides of your box. Make sure the landscape cloth is secure and add more staples as needed.
Step 16 – Add hanging hardware
Use a measuring tape to measure out the placement of your hanging hardware on the top board of your box (you want the board you drilled holes into back in Step 8 to be at the bottom).
I centered mine on the top board of my planter box and positioned it 8 in. in from each side of my box. Use a drill and a 9/64 in. drill bit to drill pilot holes in the marks you made.
Screw one eye bolt in each hole.
Step 17 – Cut rope
You’ll be hanging your planter box from ½-in. rope.
Measure the space where you’ll be hanging your box to figure out the length of rope you’ll need.
Cut the rope to your chosen length and loop one end through one screw eye bolt.
Knot the rope as tightly as you can and repeat for the other screw eye bolt.
Step 18 – Mix soils together
You can do this in a bucket or directly in your planter box like I did!
Step 19 – Fill planter box snugly
Keep filling the box with the soil mixture until it’s packed full.
Step 20 – Attach back
Put your safety goggles and ear protection back on, and then grab the 24-in. cedar plywood piece you cut back in Step 4.
Use a pneumatic nail gun that’s pre-loaded with 1¼-in. brad nails to nail the back piece to the edges of the box frame.
Step 21 – Remove succulents from pots
Gather all of your succulents together.
Gently pinch the sides of the pots your succulents came in. Carefully pull on the succulents to remove them from their pots.
Loosen up their roots and save any excess soil for extra filler if needed.
Step 22 – Snip holes
These holes are what you’re going to plant your succulents in!
Step 23 – Insert succulents through cloth/wire in front
Dig your finger gently into one of the holes you cut, making a little space for the succulent’s roots to sit in. Place one succulent in the hole. Add some extra soil to the hole if it’s too big or if the succulent doesn’t feel secure.
Continue cutting holes and adding succulents until you’ve created a full planter.
Make your you leave some room for growth!
Note: Make sure you allow proper time for the succulents to root (between 4 and 6 weeks) before attempting to hang the planter vertically.
I’ll be honest and say that I was terrified that every single succulent was going to fall out of the planter the moment we hung it, but thankfully they didn’t!
We love how the vertical succulent garden looks hanging on display– it’s living art!