Want to learn how to make a DIY concrete planter pot? I’ve got you covered in this post!
With spring finally here, I’m so excited to be able to spruce up the front porch of our new garage apartment house. We’ve been living in a mud pit all winter after construction, so any green, living, pretty things would be a welcome change around here.
The past few years, I’ve made some fun wooden planters for the front porch on our old house (these modern ones from last year were a unique design, and these louvered planters from a few seasons ago were a favorite of mine), but this year, I wanted something a little different. Sticking with the modern theme of the new house, I went with a concrete planter pot.
I’ve worked with concrete a little before, but mostly for landscape curbs and sidewalks. (PS stay tuned for more on our new concrete landscape curb ? ) So making this concrete planter pot was a bit of a learning curve. And while making a DIY concrete planter pot isn’t exactly a brand new idea, I did add a cool wooden bottom to distinguish it a little from the others AND to give it some height since the pot was actually a little shorter than I wanted it to be.
And, being the cheap-skate that I am, this project is about as cheap as it gets. My bag of concrete cost about $5 (and is enough for two pots) and the 2×4 was about $3. And with a few other supplies (many of which you can find for free or probably already have around the shop) and a lot of patience, you’ve got a pretty nice looking planter for not a lot of money. (PS good thing patience is free, because you will need a lot…Concrete takes WAY too long to dry for someone as impatient as me. But I survived, so I know you can too)
So if you’re ready to make something awesome, let’s get started. The how to video and the step by step tutorial both are below. This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure policy for details.
What you’ll need:
5000 concrete mix (you can use regular, but I recommend the 5000 kind)
Spare bucket to mix in (I used another 5 gallon bucket)
Band Saw or Jig Saw
Safety First: when working with concrete, always follow the safety precautions on the bag. At the least you should wear a dust mask and gloves. Concrete can burn your skin and is harmful if inhaled.
Step 1: Glue up Base
I started out knowing I wanted this wooden base for the pot, but didn’t know how thick I wanted it to be. I played around with different sized boards and decided that a 2×4 turned on its side looked good proportionally, so I went with that.
Because I was going to be gluing them together to make the base, I wanted the surfaces to be nice and smooth, so I ran the board through the planer, then I squared off one of the edges on the table saw. This was to give the top of the base a nice smooth surface and a crisp edge.
Later on, I used my router to round over the edges of the base, so really, I didn’t have to square these edges *facepalm* , but it does give a better, smoother surface to adhere the concrete pot to later.
Anyway, once the 2×4 was milled down, I took it to the miter saw and cut the board down to twelve 4” long blocks and two 8” long blocks for the ends. I arranged these like shown below to make sure that the bucket I would be using for the concrete mold would fit on top. Then I began the gluing process.
Now, it may have been easier in the long run to cut progressively longer boards to glue together instead of doing it this way with a big hole in the middle. But this way saved lumber and gave me an automatic drainage hole. You do whichever you want…in the end, it’ll end up the same.
I arranged the blocks like shown and made sure the edges of the boards were barely sticking out from under the bucket and traced around it. Then I proceeded to glue the boards together lining up the lines where I had traced.
Once everything was glued, I set it in two bar clamps, but it was hard to keep it nice and level. I fidgeted with it a little, then decided it might be best to clamp it to a scrap piece of plywood to keep it flat while it dried. I was sure to wipe the excess glue before I did that so I didn’t glue the plywood to the base.
Step 2: Pour the Concrete Pot into the Mold
While the glue dried, I moved on to the concrete part of the project. Because I wanted a nice smooth surface on my pot, I used the Quikrete 5000 high strength mix and I highly recommend it for this. It’s much stronger than the regular concrete mix, and cures up much faster and smoother. It’s a little more expensive, but totally worth it.
I used three buckets for this–two five gallons and one 2 gallon. I got some extra five gallon buckets from work, and I purchased a 2 gallon bucket for the inside of the mold. I used one 5 gallon for the outside of the mold and one for mixing.
I mixed the concrete in batches so it would be easy to mix well and pour. I mixed WAY more water than is recommended on the bag, but it made it so much easier to level and to work with. I just used a piece of scrap wood to stir until everything was moistened (think of how you mix a brownie mix…YUM haha). Once it was the consistency of a thick milkshake, I poured it into the mold bucket.
Ignore that PVC pipe in the bottom of the bucket. I tried using that for a drainage hole, but it got filled with concrete, so scratch that idea…we will deal with that later.
Once the bottom half of the mold bucket was full, I placed the smaller bucket in and used my hands to work the concrete around the edges of it. If you notice the air bubbles in my finished pot, it’s where I wasn’t able to get the bubbles out in this area. It’s so narrow, it’s hard to work it down and get the air out. Just do the best you can and call it “character” if you get a few bubbles in your planter.
Because the small bucket was trying to float, I used some leftover tile from our kitchen to hold it down and in place. Because the concrete was so wet, it was hard to get it to stay put, but I finally got it where I wanted it and slowly backed away.
Step 3: Waste Some Time
While the concrete was drying, I was anxious, so I started cutting my base out. This was just a waste of time, because until the pot gets out of the mold, you won’t know what size to make it exactly, but I cut anyway to make myself feel productive haha. So if you see in the next pictures that it’s already rounded, that’s why. Don’t do that…it’s just a waste of time haha.
Step 4: Remove the Concrete Pot from the Mold
Then I waited three LONG days. I probably should have waited a little longer, but I’m impatient. To remove the concrete from the mold, I used a utility knife to cut out the small bucket and to cut away the big bucket. My concrete was still a little wet when I did this, so you can see some knife marks on the outside of the bucket. Whoops…that’s just more character.
Step 5: Finish the Wood Base
Once I got the concrete free, I carried the pot over to the base and traced around it. Then I cut the base for real on the bandsaw and sanded the edges smooth.
Because the pot had a rounded bottom, I used my router to round over the edges of the base so it wouldn’t look so stark against the round edge when I glued them together.
Then I applied a wood stain. One thing to note here is that because this will be exposed to the draining water, it might be a good idea to somehow seal the inside edges of the 2x4s in the middle. I didn’t think about it until after the fact. Whoops.
Step 6: Drill Drainage Holes and Glue Together
I flipped the pot over and remember me telling you about that PVC pipe for drainage? Well, it filled up as you can see, so I just used a concrete drill bit and drilled a small drainage hole in the center. I had a concrete drill bit from when we framed out the inside of our garage house and anchored the walls to the floor. However, if you didn’t have one and didn’t want to buy one, the PVC pipe would have worked if I had been a little more careful and possibly taped over the hole at the top. Then just removed the tape after the concrete cured.
Because this is pretty heavy, I went ahead and moved it to where I wanted to put it on the porch to glue them together so I wouldn’t have to haul it one big piece later. I applied some Gorilla Glue construction adhesive to the base and set the pot on top. I made sure it was centered and any squeeze out was cleaned, then I applied some sealer to seal both the wood and the concrete.
For the sealer, I simply brushed on a couple coats of Minwax Helmsman Water Based Spar Urethane. I read online somewhere that this was okay for concrete, so I’m just taking their word for it. It’s working fine for me so far haha. I made sure to cover all the wood and the concrete with it to protect it from the elements.
Then I planted a cute little lambs ear plant in it and it was finished! I love how simple this project is and how inexpensive it was, too. Cheap projects are everything haha.
It’s far from perfect (you know…air bubbles and knife marks…) and I learned a lot in the process (like how to prevent air bubbles and knife marks), but I kind of don’t mind the scratches from the knife and the air bubbles. I think it adds some character and gives it some interest. At least that’s what I’m telling myself anyway haha.
So I hope you guys enjoyed this project and are interested in seeing a few more concrete projects because I had a lot of fun with this one and I have a feeling I’ll be doing a few more soon. Let me know what kinds of concrete projects you’d like to see next!
And stay tuned for the whole transformation of our muddy mess of a front yard to a much less muddy mess with a few cute DIY projects I’m tackling this spring—posts on new chairs and new landscape coming ASAP ? In the mean time, be sure to pin this for later 🙂
Until next time, happy building!