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Have You Ever Used A Planter Box?

The longer I am in this game the more I seem to become surprised by things.  Just the other day I met someone who didn’t know what a planter box was or why they are so useful.  It made me think we should talk about this more as the humble planter box is one of the most useful things you can have in your garden.

Planter Boxes Can Be Used For Seating And Storage

In a small space like a veranda or a small courtyard, the planter box can be used for seating or storage.  Since there are so many different designs there will always be one for your tastes.

PLANTER BOX & SEATING COMBINATION SMALL COURTYARD

CUSTOM MADE PLANTER BOX & SEATING LARGE COURTYARD

I particularly like the design where you have a planter box on one side and a planter box on the other, then a seat built between them.  It is a great use of space and still brings the greenery into the area you are using.

Some planters have storage built in the lower third of the planter box.  This again is great for a small area as it gives you an outdoor hidden storage area for some bits and pieces.

Waterproofing Or Lining A Planter Box

Unfortunately, untreated wood planter boxes will start to decay once they are exposed to the harsh elements. For easy planting and long-lasting beauty, prepare the planter box before planting so to defend it from the harmful effects of water and sunshine.

PLANTER BOX WITH PLASTIC LINING

PLANTER BOX & DECKING COMBINATION

Rough up all exposed surfaces of the wood planter box with 80-grit sandpaper until the surface feels rough to the touch. This creates minute pockets and ridges for your waterproofing paint or stains to better cling to.

Seal the joints and edges of the wood planter box where its various sides meet and where the walls of the planter meet the bottom of the planter. This keeps water from entering the crevices of the box and slowly rotting out the box. You can use a polyurethane-based caulk or a silicone-based caulk. Apply it as per the manufacturer instructions.

Make sure you wait for the caulk to dry fully before continuing with your waterproofing. Complete caulk curing will often take three to four days with the box stored in a cool, dry location away from sources of moisture and too much heat.

Applying a single, thin coat of either Danish oil or oil-based urethane wood stain will make the wood more waterproof while also defending it from the damage created by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Apply the sealant using a paintbrush using slow, short strokes and evenly covering all surfaces of the wood planter box.

Wait for 24 to 48 hours again until the first coat of sealant has dried. Then, reapply as directed by the sealant’s manufacturer instructions. Some sealants will only require a couple of coats for waterproofing and UV protection, while other sealants require 10 or more coats for full protection.  Again, double-check the instructions to know what to do.

Different places to use your Planter Box

Deciding where to place your planter boxes is a task that you should spend some time considering. Primarily you should consider the lighting requirements of the plants in your planter boxes.

PLANTER BOX BAMBOO SCREEN

APARTMENT LIVING

If you have shade-loving plants, you should place the planter boxes under an awning where they will remain shaded throughout most of the day. If you have species that require full sun, the best place to put the planter boxes would be in an area where the plants will receive sun throughout the entire day.

If you choose to raise species that require full sun, be aware that the soil in your planter boxes will dry out quickly. If ignored, the sun will eventually pull all of the moisture out of the potting soil, leaving it nearly impenetrable. Therefore, develop a mulching and watering schedule that is appropriate for the area where you have placed your planter boxes. This will save you much heartache over time.

Maintenance Practices For A Planter Box

One of the reasons I really love wooden planter boxes is that they can be painted, stained, varnished or left raw.  All have their place and all work well.

Painting them can make them blend in with the exterior décor of a home and the landscape colours. But if you have a redwood box, just a simple stain or varnish can look nice.

Every five years or so it is good to clear away any accumulated grime, the old sealant, and any fading caused by the sun. If you are using a power washer on the box,  be careful not to cut into the wood grain or over wet the wood.

Once the planter box dries, you can sand away any rough spots to give the box a smooth touch. Coat them with any sealant or stain. A transparent sealant is ideal as it will not hide the natural beauty of the wood. If you are using the planter inside your house you might want to use a wax finish as it really looks good and will last better than outside.

PLANTER BOXES – INSTANTLY CREATE YOUR IDEAL SPACE

PLANTER BOX FEATURE

Be careful not to leave planters unprotected all year round (unless you want the wood to have that distressed look) as they will develop cracks on the surface due to contraction and expansion caused by temperature and moisture changes. If you see any cracks with rough edges, take a few minutes to sand the crack and create a smooth feel.  A small amount of maintenance during the year will help the planter last a long time.

If you maintain your wooden planter boxes this way, around five years later the surface of the wood should be pretty hardened. This will help stop moisture and grime from penetrating the wood in the future.

Why Are Planter Boxes So Good

Planters can change an urban design into a warmer feeling design.  Often, once we have finished our building we end up without much greenery or plant life around.  This leaves the space feeling cold and barren.

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PLANTER BOX & CLIMBER COMBINATION

PLANTER BOX AND POT COMBINATION

A planter box can easily overcome this.  Using low and wide boxes you can create a tree-line of bamboo or some other quick-growing foliage to line a wall or add life to a courtyard.  As far as decoration is concerned it is totally up to your imagination to have whatever you please.

You can also use planter boxes to grow vegetables and small fruits.  This is one of my favourite uses. Often in Australia, we have a small side area to the house or a courtyard.  If the sunlight is correct, these spaces can be utilised as a mini-farm. I will do another post on what different types of foods you can grow.

Cheers for now

About the Author Darren Stiles

Hi, I am Darren and I have been running Manna Gum for the last 20 years. Boy does time fly by. Before running a Building and Garden supply business I ran my own Brick Laying business. I know what it means to roll up your sleeves and bend into the work and I know that getting the things you need, to be delivered on time and be of good quality, means everything. If you have any questions, give me a yell. Cheers.

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