Spring Summer DIY Mod Raised Planter
Photo by Lincoln Barbour

Spring is finally here which means it’s time to put winter’s slush and sluggishness behind you and embrace all the blooms and beauty just beyond your front door. One way to really get yourself into the spirit of the season is to take some of your DIY home projects outside. To that end, a sleek, mod raised planter may be just the thing. The perfect addition to any midcentury home’s front yard, it garners extra curb appeal as it accentuates the gorgeous face of your home’s retro structure. Not to mention, putting together your own ravishing, raised planter in the long-awaited sunshine is a sure way to raise your vitamin D production to boot!

For this guide, we borrowed inspiration from the ultra-cool, ultra-streamlined tropical hardwood planter situated at the entrance of this midcentury Portland home. Created by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, this raised planter is stylishly minimalist with a highly curated vegetation plan that reinforces the deft, comely restraint of the architecture it foregrounds.

Because of the planter’s altogether simple formation, it can be adapted to anyone’s personal preferences. For that reason, think of this instructional as a basic template, a jumping-off point from which you can customize your raised planter to better reflect your tastes. Wood type, color, dimensions and specific flora are all up to you. Meanwhile, the only definitive criteria you’ll want to keep in mind is to build the planter tall and to keep the width of the slats slim. This will ensure that the atomic signature you’re seeking really comes across. Let’s raise and shine!


Here’s what you’ll need to get started on this raised planter:

-Tape measure
-1 long board to serve as the base (reflecting desired dimensions)
-4 planks as frame posts (Tip: Two 2x4s cut into 4 pieces gives a nice height)
-Enough 1x4s (or planks in similar dimensions) to make up the length and width of your planter (Tip: you’ll need at least a couple more inches of wood than your base board for both length and width)
-Box of nails
-Hammer or nail gun
-Stain and sealant
-Paint brush
-Planter lining
-Staple gun
-Planting soil


1. Draw out what you want your raised planter to look like. Measure the area you’ve reserved for the planter and finalize the dimensions for the planter in your sketch. Make sure you check your math here. The total width of all the slats making up the body of the planter plus the desired spaces between these slats should mostly correspond with the total height of the planter (aka the four framing posts). We say “mostly” here because the slats making up the body of the planter don’t have to be completely flush with the height of the inner posts. A little extra height will block the view of the inside of the planter and allow for a clean, streamlined impression. Also, when designing your planter, keep in mind that you don’t want the spaces between your slats to be too big or too small otherwise the planter loses the strong lines that give it its character. Somewhere around the ½-inch mark should be a safe bet.

2. Assuming your wood is already cut to size, create the frame for the base by nailing together one pair each of the length and width pieces. When you’ve finished, you should have what looks like a hollow, rectangular frame in front of you.

3. Place the board serving as the planter’s base at the bottom of your rectangular frame. Nail the frame and board together at each corner making sure everything is secure.

4. It’s time to add some height. Take your 4 plank posts and nail them flat against the corners on the length side of the frame. Again, make sure everything is secure. You should now have what looks like a very narrow, upside down table.

5. To make your job a bit easier from this point, get your measuring tape out and mark where each slat will go. Don’t forget to take into account the spacing between the slats.

6. Nail all the slats to the frame paying attention to the marks you’ve already delineated. Make certain all planks are flush using your level.

7. When you’ve finished that arm workout and your planter is looking really put together, it’s time to stain. Not only will the stain lend rich color, it’ll also help seal the wood. This makes it more resistant to water damage as well as to general wear and tear from the elements. Let dry completely.

8. Get your planting membrane and staple it to the sides of the planter. Drop some gravel into the bottom (this will weigh the fabric down and help with drainage). Now, fill it with soil and any plants that put a spring in your step! (Caution: Depending on the kind of stain you’ve used be careful of using any edible plants. The chemicals in some stains could potentially have adverse health effects if absorbed by the plant life and ingested. Read all labels carefully).

9. You can get even more ambitious by adding a top frame or some more slats to divide the planting sections like that seen in the Portland home’s planter. In any case, enjoy your new planter and don’t be afraid to get creative!


For more home designs by Jessica Helgerson, see her website: jhinteriordesign.com.