Cedar Planters for less than $20!

Submitted by Ana White on Sat, 05/18/2019 - 11:50
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Using cedar fence pickets, you can make these beautiful planters for about $20 each!  Our plans include step-by-step diagrams, shopping and cut lists, and dozens of reader submitted photos and success stories. 

 We also have plans for a taller, more modern planter, a cedar ladder planter (also using cedar fence pickets!) and lots more planter projects here.

beautiful cedar planter about knee height, square block shaped with pink flowers

Cedar planters are so beautiful - you cannot replicate the natural texture and grain of real wood.  But cedar can be expensive.  Why not use cedar fence pickets (about $2 for 6 feet each) and build your own for a fraction of the cost?

This was a quick and easy project, and I absolutely love how it turned out! Every time I come home, I admire my planters.

Framed Top Modification

Many of our readers have modified this plan to have a mitered framed top, like this one below by Hillary Louise

beautiful reclaimed wood planter box made by a reader with yellow flowers

To do this modification, simply cut the 2x2 legs 22" long (instead of 23-3/4").  Attach the side panels flush to the tops of the legs in step 2.  

You'll need to add a 1x3, 8 feet long, to the shopping list.  Cut four 1x3 @ 21" longest point to longest point - both ends cut at 45 degrees, ends NOT parallel. Nail or screw to the top of the planter after you have completed building. 

Rectangle Cedar Planter

You can also easily alter the size of the planters up to double the width rectangle shape, without having to add additional legs, as done here.

rectangle shaped cedar planter with trellis, doubled in width from the plans

This is an easy modification - just add a couple more cedar fence pickets and 1x3s to your shopping list.  I recommend laying out the cedar fence pickets and measuring how long you need to cut your 1x3s (instead of just doubling the cut list dimensions) because cedar fence pickets can vary in width.

Cedar Fence Picket Planter Plans

The plans for the cedar fence picket planter are below.  Please share a photo if you build - we greatly appreciate brag posts.

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Cedar Planters

dimensions diagram of cedar planter
Dimensions shown above.


Shopping List

2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long

1 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long

3 - 5 1/2" wide x 72" long cedar fence pickets

1 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long

2 1/2" exterior pocket hole screws

1 1/4" exterior screws or galvanized nails

exterior wood glue

Cut List

10 - 1x3 @ 17"

5 - 1x2 @ 17"

4 - 2x2 @ 23 3/4"

12 - cedar fence pickets @ 17 3/4" long (shortened by 1/4" from diagrams to allow for saw blade width and dog eared end)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander


Step 1

Start by first building your four panels. I sized this plan to allow for an 1/8" gap between the cedar pickets as they will shrink/expand with moisture and let's just face it - the cedar fence pickets are not going to be perfect! I used 1 1/4" galvanized nails and exterior glue from the insides.

Step 2

On all four of your panels, drill 2 - 1 1/2" pocket holes on the inside, behind each 1x3 on the ends. This will put screws through the fence pickets, 1x3s and then into your legs. Join two of the panels to the legs as shown in diagram.

Step 3

And then add the remaining two panels to create your planters. Adjust for square.

Step 4

Now don't think that this whole planter needs to be filled with dirt!!! Unless you are planning on harvesting potatoes in there! I put my bottom 6" down from the top to keep the planter lighter and use less dirt. Start by attaching cleats to sides at desired height.

Step 5


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