Get Creative! Make Planters Out of Wood Crates

Old and worn wooden crates tend to pile up in garages and storage rooms, taking up space and collecting dust. But with a bit of imagination and creativity, these discarded containers can be brought back to life as unique DIY planters perfect for displaying herbs, flowers, or even vegetables.

Transforming weathered crates into rustic planter boxes allows you to repurpose materials in an eco-friendly way. Wooden crate planters also make movable gardens simple, since you can easily rearrange or relocate them as needed. Customizing them with paint, stains, or other embellishments enables you to match any decor style too. Read on to learn key tips for converting basic wood crates into fabulous planters!

wooden crates as planters

Choose Wooden Crates for Your Planters

Not all crates work well for planting, so choose wisely to ensure your repurposed planter has what plants need to thrive. Consider size, wood type, and condition when selecting which crates to use for your DIY garden projects.

Determine Appropriate Crate Size

The dimensions of your wooden crate determine how many plants it can accommodate, so pick an appropriate size based on what you want to grow. Shallow crates just 6-12 inches deep perfectly suit herbs, lettuce, strawberries, or microgreens. Standard-sized crates, roughly 24 inches deep, easily handle vegetables like tomatoes or peppers. Even deeper crates can contain large shrubs or small trees.

Also factor width – multiple narrow crates lined up together make an organized row. Or, wider crates can stand alone as a focal point. Measure available space first to plan crate placement for harmony and balance.

Select Untreated Wood

Since plants will be rooting directly in the planter materials, untreated wood prevents exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid using any crates with markings indicating they were chemically treated. Good crate wood options include reclaimed barn wood or unfinished pine.

Reclaimed wood adds rustic, weathered character that enhances the vintage garden style. Unfinished pine offers an affordable blank canvas to decorate later with paints or stains.

Evaluate Condition of Crates

Examine wood crates closely for flaws like large cracks, soft rotted spots, and loose broken slats before planting. Note any areas needing repairs and patch accordingly – fixes ensure soil and water stay in, not leak everywhere later. Smooth remaining rough surfaces and sharp edges too.

Doing this important prep removes potential splinters and clears debris from neglected crates headed for a new life as fabulous planters!

Prepare Crates for Planting

Customizing crates specifically for growing plants prevents problems down the road. Follow these tips for adapting basic wood containers into properly functional planters before adding greenery.

Add Drainage Holes

Perhaps the most critical modification for planting is drilling ample drainage. Adding several holes in the crate bottom allows excess moisture to freely escape. This prevents waterlogged soil and deadly root rot issues.

Space 2 to 4 quarter-inch holes evenly across the bottom for sufficient permeability. Cover the inside of each hole with mesh screen to limit soil washout over time while maintaining free drainage.

Line Crate Interior

Lining wooden planters before filling them with potting mix keeps soil in place and again aids drainage. Use flexible landscape fabric trimmed roughly to size to contain mix. Or, small pea gravel as filler boosts aeration and moisture control.

Simply layer chosen liner materials over interior crate surfaces before packing soil media on top. This also regulates moisture and prevents soil compaction.

Fill Bottom with Packaging Peanuts

For extremely lightweight wooden crates, add recycled packaging peanuts in the bottom below soil level. The filler insulates drainage holes so media doesn’t simply wash out. It also minimizes overall planter weight for easy relocation while providing stability.

Choose Soil and Plants

When prepping any vessel for gardening, premium soil tailored for containers makes all the difference. Selecting plants suited to crate conditions ensures they remain happy and healthy in their new home.

Select High Quality Potting Mix

Regular garden topsoil quickly compacts and drains poorly in enclosed wooden planters. An airy, fast-draining potting mix amended with perlites or vermiculites avoids this issue. Pre-mixed commercial blends formulated specifically for container plants offer an optimal balance of drainage, moisture retention, and nutrients.

You can make custom soil too. Simply blend quality compost with perlite and a slow-release organic fertilizer. This DIY potting media still retains the aeration and nutrient levels plants need to thrive within confined boxes.

Good Herb Options

Many culinary herbs flourish planted singly or densely grouped in shallow crate planters. Evergreen herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary appreciate free drainage. Leafy basil and mint fill out containers quickly for frequent harvests too. Even parsley, cilantro, and dill readily reseed for continuous yields.

Just ensure whichever herbs you select get adequate sunlight and match growth habits. For example, locate smaller creeping thyme in front of taller rosemary placed in the planter back.

Suitable Vegetable Choices

When sufficiently deep, wooden crates easily accommodate compact vegetables, which require more root space than herbs. Cherry tomatoes, salad greens, beans, peppers, and eggplants develop nicely confined when amply watered and fed. Even potatoes and carrots may work in very deep boxes.

Determine mature plant sizes though, spacing accordingly so crowded veggies don’t struggle later. Also pick varieties with similar needs – determinate tomatoes paired with peppers, or lettuces mixed with radish and arugula for uniform coverage.

Vibrant Flower Varieties

For non-edible options, vibrant flowering annuals infuse crates with continuous seasonal color. Petunias, marigolds, pansies, zinnias, and snapdragons thrive through summer with basic care. For partial shade conditions, impatiens, begonias, and coleus brighten up planters.

Strategize flower crate arrangements by height too. Use trellising for vertical climbers like morning glories. Underplant trailing lobelia or sweet alyssum around filler marigolds showcased in the center.

Customize and Maintain Crates

Even though crates structurally work for planting, customizing transforms them visually into a true decorative statement. And taking ongoing proper care of plants keeps them flourishing within repurposed containers.

Decorative Paint or Stain Finishes

Applying paint, wood stains, or other coloring mediums personalizes plain wood boxes into custom planter designs. Match the finish to your existing color scheme, or choose a selection of stains across grouped crates for an eclectic mismatched style.

Distress stains before sealing for a timeworn, vintage appearance. Or stencil numbers or designs onto solid paint tones. Even metallic finishes like copper or bronze paint elegantly dress up crates.

Creative Embellishments

Introduce DIY flare with further container enhancements like decorative hardware, attached chalkboard panels, or colorful patterned contact paper lining the inside. You can also accessorize by showcasing air plants attached to the slats or cute flower markers naming plants.

For evening drama, string mini programmable LED or solar-powered fairy lights across single or stacked wooden crates. The creative possibilities for personalization are truly endless!

Consistent Watering

Closely monitor moisture daily, watering container plants whenever the top inch becomes dry. Potting mixes in wooden planters readily shed water through sides, drying out faster than inground beds. Proper, consistent irrigation prevents disastrous wilt and drought damage.

Adjust watering routines for weather. Hot and windy periods increase demands. During cool or wet stretches, scale back to match reduced transpiration. Observe plant signs of stress and saturate soil thoroughly as required.

As in all container gardens, soil fertility declines over a single growing season as plants consume nutrients. Nutrient ratios also shift through leaching. Replenish wooden crate planters annually with fresh quality potting mix to restore balance.

Groom overgrowth keeping plants tidy and producing. Prune back wayward woody herbs or pinch flowering annuals to encourage bushy shapes. Weed out invading grass or nuisance seedlings to keep crops and ornamentals their thriving best.

Converted shipping crates into planters can be used to line up matching painted crates along a patio. Even mount stacked boxes on walls or fences for vertical appeal. However you incorporate wooden crate planters into garden designs, these eco-friendly repurposed containers enable conveniently movable, visually delightful plant displays.

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