Emily Winters: Creating A Modern DIY Window Box

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.

A finished planter box with little pansies.

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.

Painted garage, circa 2011.

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)

Materials for the window flower basket.

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.

Marking the spacing for the frame of the window box.
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:

Cutting the corner pieces for the window box.

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.

Cutting the corner pieces for the window box.

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:

Finished the corners of the window boxes.

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.

Assembling the DIY window box.

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.

Assembling the window box with a nail gun.

Both 12″ side panels slid right into place on the frame, as shown here:

Assembling the window box.

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.

Finishing the frame of the window 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.

A finished frame, and an almost-finished window box.

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).

Drilling holes into the cement.

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.

Creating holes for the window box.

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.

Installing the window box.

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.

Reinforcing the modern window box frame to the base.

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.

A finished planter box with little pansies.

Mine was only about $25 when you factor in all materials. Imagine that!

A finished planter box, up close.

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.

18 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    The ear defenders are a sensible item of personal protective equipment but bare feet, really? Naughty, naughty! : )

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  3. Frizzie says:

    That is a good DIY project! I love to try this on some of my windows too. I will look and inquire for more ideas from <a href="http://www.homestylecreations.com.au” target=”_blank”>www.homestylecreations.com.au.

  4. Tamara Barnes says:

    I am so impressed at how well you made that window box and to think that you're a woman, I find it really amazing! It would be great to partner some house blinds in Perth with that nice window box.

  5. Fairknitter Jan says:

    Looks great! You might consider using one or even two more wall brackets. Just looking at your pics, your brackets look a little small to support the weight that comes with a planter box loaded with plants, soil and a good soaking of water. My 10 yr old planter boxes need replacing and you have sparked a new idea that will work for me. Thank you!

  6. Gin says:

    I was about to say that it would be great for herbs, @Tariece. If there's enough sun, I can see a planter full of basil and oregano and mints.

  7. Tariece Parrish says:

    Looks like it would be perfect to grow herbs for my own kitchen 'experiments'

  8. Gary says:

    Looks good to me. I love power tools.

  9. Lisa says:

    That looks great, I love the pop of yellow on the white wall. Well done. Lisa xo

  10. Tariece Parrish says:

    I think I can actually make that- all i'd need would be motivation, tools, materials, time, a cool time of day, an above average attention span etc… Its beautiful, you do great work

  11. Michelle says:

    My husband and I love working with wood. This is a great project that I'm adding to my must-build list. I think I'll mount it to the side of my shed. Looks great!

  12. Rachel says:

    Love it! Turned out great!

  13. [...] made something fun-slash-pretty for this week’s post on DIY Network, and I think you’re going to like it. Even if you don’t have a gigantic cinderblock [...]

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About Emily Fazio 

187Posts

I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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