Neighbors on your nerves? Or maybe it's just the constantly buzzing AC peeking at you from the corner of the house. Either way, this living, leafy privacy planter provides an attractive screen, not to mention a convenient way to exercise your green thumb.
The planter frame is constructed of rot-resistant pressure-treated lumber and clad with rustic red cedar, which is naturally resistant to decay, to match the trellis. Casters make it easy to roll the screen around a patio, porch, or deck, so you can shut out the neighbors wherever you sit. You can bet they'll be peeking as you put this beauty together using the following instructions.
Shown: Western red cedar is the perfect choice to clad this planter and make its trellis.
Building a Privacy Planter Overview
You can refer to the cut list at the end of this article or Download and print the privacy planter cut list here.
- SATURDAY Build the planter frame and sheathe it in cedar (steps 2-10).
- SUNDAY Create and attach the cedar trellis (steps 11-18).
How to Build a Planter Box With Trellis
1. Build the Front and Rear of the Planter Frame
- Use a miter saw to cut all the pressure-treated 2x4s to length according to The Cut List.
- The front and rear of the planter frame consist of three 2x4s assembled into an H shape. Clamp the parts to a workbench with the short board centered between the two long boards, as shown.
- Drill four ⅛-inch pilot holes at an angle through the center board and into the long boards. Fasten the parts with 2½-inch deck screws. Repeat to fabricate an identical rear frame.
2. Make the Ends of the Frame
- Clamp the parts for one end of the frame to a workbench, with the short boards flush with the ends of the long ones.
- Drill pilot holes at an angle through the short boards and into the long ones. Fasten the parts with 2½-inch deck screws, as shown. Repeat to build the other end frame.
3. Join the Assemblies
- Stand one end upright and clamp it to the workbench. Clamp the front assembly tight against the end and square to it. Then drill pilot holes at an angle through the front assembly and into the end.
- Fasten the assemblies together with 2½-inch deck screws, as shown.
- Use the same procedure to attach the opposite end and then the rear assembly.
4. Attach the Base Plates
- Cut three pieces of 5/4x6 pressure-treated decking to use as base plates.
- Clamp the base plates in place: one on each end of the frame and one spanning the center. The pieces should be set back from the edge of the frame by ¼ inch.
- Drill pilot holes and attach the base plates with 2½-inch deck screws, as shown.
5. Attach the Casters
- Position a caster on one of the end base plates, mark its four mounting holes, and drill the holes through the base plate.
- Attach the caster using hex-head machine bolts with washers and nuts.
- Install the other three casters, with the two locking ones at opposite ends of the planter.
- Flip the assembled frame upright.
6. Notch the Floorboards
- Use the miter saw to cut to length 10 pieces of 5/4x6 pressure-treated decking to line the bottom of the planter box.
- Use a jigsaw to notch the four floorboards that fit around the vertical 2x4s at each end and the middle of the planter-box frame. The floorboards should be cut so they fit ¼ shy of the edge of the framing, to allow them to expand and contract.
7. Install the Floorboards
- Position a notched floorboard at each set of vertical 2x4s, then set the other boards in place, spacing them about ½ inch apart to allow for drainage.
- Drill pilot holes and secure each floorboard to the frame with four 2½-inch deck screws.
8. Install the 1x6s
- With the planter frame upright, lock the casters to keep it from moving.
- Use a miter saw to cut to length the 1x6 cedar boards that sheathe the planter. Start at the top front of the frame and work your way around to one end, the back, and the opposite end. Note that each board overlaps one end of the next board and that the overlaps of each course are offset from those of the one above it.
- Drill pilot holes and secure the boards with 1⅝-inch stainless-steel trim-head screws.
9. Fasten the Last Row
- After completing the top row, work your way down, fastening each board with trim-head screws. The fourth and final row will slightly overhang the base plates.
10. Make the Legs
- The trellis is a series of overlapping cedar boards, including horizontal 1x3 and 1x6 slats and vertical 2x2 pickets. Two tall 5/4x6 cedar legs straddle the planter box and hold the trellis in place, and are capped with a 5/4x6 cedar board.
- Cut the parts to length on the miter saw. Place a 2x2 picket on each leg, ¾ inch from the rear edge; you can use a 1x3 scrap on edge, as shown, to set the spacing.
- Drill pilot holes and attach the pickets with 2-inch deck screws.
11. Install the Slats
- Prop the legs on edge with the pickets facing inward and the ¾-inch reveal facing down.
- Lay the slats between the legs on the pickets, starting flush at the top of the trellis with a 1x6 slat.
- Drill pilot holes and secure the slat with 2-inch deck screws.
- Next, install a 1x3 slat 3 inches from the 1x6; use a pair of short 2x2s as a spacer block, as shown. Continue, alternating the 1x6 and 1x3 slats, seven in all.
12. Install the Pickets
- Turn the trellis over. Cut a wood block 5 13/16 inches long, and use it as a spacer to set the 2x2 pickets evenly between the legs. Make their ends flush with the top slat, then fasten them one by one with 1⅝-inch trim-head screws.
- Flip the trellis back over, and attach the front pickets from underneath, as shown. Center each one between the pickets on the opposite side.
13. Clip the Corners of the Top Trim
- Cut to length a 5/4x6 cedar board to span the top of the trellis panel.
- Use a combination square to mark 45-degree cutlines ¾ inch from each corner.
- Set the miter saw to 45 degrees, and clip off the four corners.
14. Attach the Top Trim
- Set the trim piece against the top of the trellis panel, as shown, and center it so that an equal amount overhangs each side.
- Then drill pilot holes and fasten it to the top 1x6 slat and top ends of the legs with trim-head screws.
15. Bolt the Trellis to the Planter Box
- Cut a 1x3 cedar board to the length of the planter box to use as cap trim. Set it on the rear edge of the planter box, flush with the inside edge.
- Drill pilot holes and secure the cap with trim-head screws.
- Stand the completed trellis on top of the planter box, covering the cap trim. Hold the legs flush with the rear of the planter box.
- Bore three staggered ⅜-inch-diameter holes into one leg and through the end of the planter box.
- Insert a carriage bolt into each hole. Put a washer and nut onto each bolt end and tighten with a socket wrench. Repeat for the other leg.
Tip: Place an unopened bag or two of gravel inside the planter box to act as ballast while you bolt on the trellis.
16. Notch the End Pieces
- Use a jigsaw to notch the 1x4 end pieces to fit around the trellis legs. Mark them where they meet the front inside corners of the box, then miter them at 45 degrees from that mark.
- Drill pilot holes and secure the trim with trim-head screws.
17. Install the Front Cap
- Mark, miter, and install the 1x4 front cap-trim piece with trim-head screws.
- Coat all the wood with teak oil.
- Spread a 4-inch layer of crushed stone over the floorboards.
- On top of the stone, line the planter box with landscape fabric, fill with potting soil, and plant your favorite shrubs and climbers.
2x4 pressure-treated horizontal rail, front and rear:
four @ 55 ½ inches
2x4 pressure-treated vertical center support, front and rear:
four @ 13 inches
2x4 pressure-treated vertical support, end:
four @ 20 inches
2x4 pressure-treated horizontal rail, end:
four @ 9 ½ inches
5/4x6 pressure-treated base plates:
three @ 16 inches
5/4x6 pressure-treated floorboards:
ten @ 16 inches
1x6 cedar sheathing, front and rear:
eight @ 59 ¼inches
1x6 cedar sheathing, ends:
eight @ 17 ¼ inches
5/4x6 cedar trellis legs:
two @ 70 ¼ inches
5/4x6 cedar trellis top trim:
one @ 76 inches
1x6 cedar trellis horizontal slat:
four @ 60 inches
1x3 cedar trellis horizontal slat:
three @ 60 inches
2x2 cedar trellis vertical pickets:
seventeen @ 47 ½ inches
1x3 cedar rear cap trim:
one @ 60 inches
1x4 cedar front cap trim:
one @ 62 ½ inches
1x4 cedar end cap trim:
two @ 16 ½ inches
Looking for more in gardening? Check out our in-depth guides on trees: