Nothing spells summertime like a new outdoor accent and fresh flowers. In one crafty afternoon, I took the side of our garage from bland to pretty with the addition of a DIY customized, modern planter box. The result? Impacting.
Really, it turned out pretty great. Not that I’m biased, or anything. Best of all, it really flows with the other modern horizontal-lined elements on the property.
Keep on reading to see how I made it.
The cinderblock garage has received a few updates over the years that I’ve lived here: I painted the walls a light gray to match it more closely to the house siding (it used to be striking white, which made people ask if it was my neighbor’s garage since it matched their house), and I also painted the garage door, shed door, and window trim white to refresh its once peeling paint, dingy appearance. This next photo was taken last summer, shortly after I painted. The tomato plants were not planted there this year, so at the moment the grass has grown to the edge of the garage.
The large cement wall itself still felt a little lacking, which is why I decided just this summer to accent the window with a DIY window box, custom-sized to fit the 36″ window. I kept my materials simple:
- 1x2x6′ #2 Pine Boards ($2.50/each, and I used 5, even though I bought more just in case)
- 1×6 piece of scrap pressure treated board for the base
- 2 metal brackets ($1.20/each)
- a 36″ planter box ($10)
- 2×2 piece of scrap wood to be cut for the corner supports
- heavy duty wall anchors and screws (already owned, but pretty inexpensively priced)
The design of the window box was guided by the design of the existing railings on my front porch and pergolas and the trellis that I built not long ago. Continuing the horizontal clean-lined look in the form of a window box frame seemed was decidedly a good idea, and another way to incorporate that little design touch in the backyard.
Because it would take on some of the design touches from the trellis in particular, I marked out on the corner pieces where the horizontal boards would rest inset, using a piece of wood as a spacing guide.
I then slowly created four corner pieces that would be the anchors for the window box. In identical style to the trellis, I notched out spaces for the 1×2 board to rest within using my chop saw locked to only cut to a specific 1″ depth. A table saw with a dado blade would do this similarly, but I don’t have one of those so I carefully and slowly make due by slivering 1/8″ sections away like this:
Note: I made my cuts in sets to help guarantee that the spacing was accurate and the inset boards would be parallel. I also used a third piece of wood (scrap) along the back of the saw so that the blade could cut cleanly through the boards that needed to be exacting.
As if this needed to be more complex a framework, I decided to do something a little fancier for this project, and notched out two sides of the 2×2 board so that the side walls could lap joint themselves behind the boards on the front of the window box. I know, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s why I use so many pictures to reiterate my message. This is all going to make more sense as you read further.
In the end, if a visual helps, the front two corners of the window box looked like this, and yes, were cut entirely using the chop saw to slice out unwanted sections. For demonstration, I placed a piece of scrap furring strip into the joints.
Around the plastic planter box, the height they were designed for, they looked more like this:
It’s a good sight, all of those matching cuts. All that was left was cutting the 1×2 boards to length (mine were 41″ long and 12″ long to surround the box, so I was able to limit my lumber usage to only five 1x2x6′ boards.
As I prepared each piece to be nailed into place using 1-3/8″ nails, I used a drop of wood glue as additional reinforcement. I installed the brad nails from the inside corners to eliminate the presence of visible nails along the clean-lined front of the window box.
Side note: the piece that I’m nailing into in this next photo looks a little short in height, but that was intentional. If you stand the front panel upright, the corners are about 3/4″ below the top board, making it so they’re less visible. You’ll understand when you see it assembled, so keep reading.
Both 12″ side panels slid right into place on the frame, as shown here:
I nailed the side panels in place just the same, from the inside so that no nail holes would be visible from the outside of the flower box.
Assembled as a whole, it was looking pretty cool, even if it still didn’t have a base or a way to be anchored to the side of the garage. Also, it was like 95-degrees that day + I was working in the sunshine = sweaty miss sweatypants with construction-grade sweaty ear protection.
The intent all along was to keep this a piece that could be installed and removed seasonally. By installing it on brackets that were inserted into the wall using anchors, this was possible. The frame itself, and the brackets too, could be removed come wintertime and easily reinstalled again when I had some new flowers to plant with.
Using the corded drill and a masonry drill bit, I leveled where the brackets would need to be hung on the wall, and then I had to use all of my body weight to create six holes (three for each bracket).
The heavy-duty anchors that we had on hand (purchased for and used during our big garage re-org during the springtime) were perfect for the job, and wedged right into the holes I drilled with a light tap of the hammer.
The brackets attached easily to the holes, and I then screwed a piece of pressure treated wood cut to length onto the ends of the brackets. Pressure-treated would have been nice for the whole piece, but because it would be removed from the garage seasonally, I focused the PT-ness on the base, since that part was most subject to have sitting water on it.
From beneath, I screwed through the pressure-treated board and directly into the frame of the window box, again, in such a way that the screws wouldn’t be visible from straight-on.
And the end result? As you saw at the beginning of the post, it looks really good. I know there was some complexity in this tutorial regarding how the corners were micro-cut to accomodate the inlaying horizontal boards, but I hope that it shows you how easy it actually can be to create something custom for yourself.
Mine was only about $25 when you factor in all materials. Imagine that!
Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.