Introduction: Slot Together Pyramid Garden Planter

Picture of Slot Together Pyramid Garden Planter

I have been busy with my Pallet Dismantling bar again, and this time I have made slot together pyramid garden planter from the reclaimed Pallet timbers.

This planter took me approximately 90 minutes to make: The design is simple, and so is the required level of woodworking skill, the only tools required are a square, pencil, electric/cordless drill and suitable spade end drill bit, and a tenon saw; although a chisel and some sand paper would be useful for tidying up the slip joints.

I cut down some 2.4 metre long pallet deck planks that were 9 cm wide and 1.9 cm thick to 1.9 mtrs long for the base tier so that the tier inside the slip joints is a 1.8 mtr X 1.8 mtr square.

Step 1:

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The corner slip joints for the first (base) tier are positioned 5 cm from the end of each plank and this measurement is used for the corners of all of the tiers. The slots for the tier above have been set at 20 cm in from the slots from the tier below, and again this measurement has been used throughout the construction of this planter.

Only the slip joint slots at the corners of the lower tier need to be half the plank's width in depth, this is to allow all four sides to sit firmly on the ground. All of the remaining slots used in this planter have been set at a depth of 1/3rd of the planks width.

Note that that the 1/2 depth slot is 5 cm from the end of the plank, and the 1/3  depth slot for the second tier is 20 cm in from the inside edge the first slot:

It is important to remember that on all the slip joints you are working inwards so that you keep the dimensions and the slots in the correct place.

Step 2:

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Each tier is 20cm in from the previous one, and the slots are cut 5cm from the end of each plank.

Step 3:

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After a couple of coats of wood preservative the pyramid planter is now ready to be assembled and placed in its final position before filling with compost and adding the flowers and plants.


Hofi13 (author)2017-05-02

My husband followed the instructions, the little bit of changes, thank you so much , that was the result , I'm so happy xxx

Gareth0123 (author)Hofi132017-06-19

That looks spectacular: thank you for sharing the photo.

christopher.leblanc.98 (author)2015-12-15

by turning the cut grove down instead of up like in your pics , they would last longer by allowing moisture to escape and not pool at the bottom of the joint , thus delaying decay significantly, great fesign though and 2x6 would last longer as well

I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean "by turning the cut grove down instead of up."

There are two grooves to each slotted joint on every board.... one facing up and and one facing down as is clearly shown in photos 5 & 6 of step 1.

Yes I agree about using the 2X6,
However, this slot together planter was made using reclaimed pallet timbers, which are usually around 3/4" thick. There have been many hundreds of these planters made here in the United kingdom by various Not-for-profit wood recycling groups, and there sales have made many £1,000's for these groups.

ZanWessel (author)2015-08-19

I was hoping to find an Instructable to create terraced planters for succulents. This is perfect!

Gareth0123 (author)ZanWessel2015-11-22

If you scroll about half way down the page of this forum posting of mine, you can see the version of this pyramid planter to create an area for my succulents and horseradish plants.

LeonardW1 (author)2015-07-03


strider1864 (author)2015-06-10

strider1864 (author)2015-06-10

adial1 (author)2015-03-20

wow.. what a wonderful to convince my Husband

daelan9999 (author)adial12015-03-27

or you can try doing something yourself

adial1 (author)daelan99992015-03-27

well that would just take the fun right out of it ..If I did it ...:) hehehehe

I usually start all my garden projects and as like most Husbands they walk by and see what were doing...stop and look ..see that it's taking way too long and start helping and poof before you know it they are doing it anyways and you are left watching..LOL so I thought I would just delete the middle man and let him Start and finish :)

Gareth0123 (author)2015-03-27

I have now changed the wood preservative that I use on my reclaimed pallet timber projects from the store bought commercial made chemical based wood preservatives to a home blended raw linseed oil and beeswax.

This only takes 30 or so minutes to make, seems to cover an area approx. 3 X larger than the store bought preservatives, seems to be considerably more durable, has a wonderful "semi wet look" finish, and is made from only two natural ingredients; Cold pressed raw Linseed Oil, and Beeswax.

Here is a link to how I make it;

elizabethingham1 (author)2014-03-02

Where do you get pallets that size? I've been searching everywhere for them and would love to know. :) Love this project. :D

I obtain the larger pallets from window manufacturing companies, Aluminium and Stainless Steel welding & fabrication companies, farm machinery dealers, and plastic roofing material retailers.

Here in the UK these companies have to pay for disposal of these large pallets, so they are usually very happy to let me take them away for free.

domidrewno (author)2015-01-17

Hi! Great work! Please check this out -> scam profile on FB stealing your project ->

pepsidave48653 (author)2014-03-12

You can use unfinished cedar for the planking as cedar is naturally rot resistant. The only downfall is the price. Cedar is more expensive than regular lumber.

SlavicFMJ (author)2014-02-28

Love it man, just love it! My wife has been asking about a raised garden and now I will finally make one. Thanks!

patricia341b (author)2013-07-21

Thank you! :)

patricia341b (author)2013-07-21

Thank you for the great ideas!! :)

crepps (author)2013-04-11

I am new to this and would like to know instead of a wood preservative, would it be safe to use any type of paint?

jonsolsen (author)2013-04-10

What if you just avoided preserving the wood entirely? One could leave it unpreserved and if it's untreated lumber it would be pretty safe as it breaks down. You could even build this out of branches or logs; then as it degrades, it would just become a natural feature. Like a hugelkultur mound. If you want to retain a tiered effect after the wood is gone, make rings or a spiral of stones?

jmiller99 (author)2012-11-22

this is such a good idea i might just do this for my herb boxes in the spring

actiasluna (author)2012-10-27

Really nice. I am thinking that a preservative that is more old-fashioned like boiled linseed oil mixed with turpentine and beeswax (for the waterproofing effects) might be what you need. There are "boiled" linseed oils out there that aren't just linseed oil but have additives that often contain heavy metals so you'd have to make sure the oil and turps and wax were clear of these... but that might get you a year or so more use. You'd likely have to apply thin, multiple coats then reapply every year, but it would possibly be safer than the modern wood preservatives.

tiltajoel (author)2012-10-26

Im planning to build this tomorrow!!

CRKeizer (author)2012-10-04

Well done!

What is the "wood preservative" you used?



Gareth0123 (author)CRKeizer2012-10-04

The preservative I used was a water based one from the Curinol range (We have it here in the UK, but I an unsure if it is available in the US).

CRKeizer (author)Gareth01232012-10-04

Any hints on the tin about the contents?

One of the preservatives I'm trying to avoid is copper compounds like in Cuprolignum.

Another is creosote.

I have one candidate I'm testing on a fence now, far away from my veggies since it has some copper in it.

Finding some food-friendly alternatives would be a good thing.


stever_sl (author)CRKeizer2012-10-05

I think "Curinol" is a misprint for "Cuprinol" which used to be a copper compound in oil, and I think the "wood preserver green" version is still that. Their "Garden Shades" line has a Material Safety Data Sheet warning about being "Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment." The EPA lists its harmful ingredient, terbutryn, as Class III "slightly toxic" so it's something you may want to avoid. Cuprinol Timbercare is said to be "safe to use around plants and pets" although I'm not sure whether they mean ornamental plants or edible plants. So the bottom line is that Cuprinol is a whole bunch of different things, at least some of which are likely to be potentially hazardous, and people should be aware of that before using them to make planting beds. It's very tricky, finding ways to keep wood sound yet safe!

CRKeizer (author)stever_sl2012-10-05


As I live in the Puget Sound region I also have to wonder about runoff from my garden projects slowly eroding into surface water and thence into our salmon streams.

Yes, finding relatively healthy ways to preserve wood is indeed frustrating.


antioch (author)2012-10-05

Look intriguing and great, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't figure out the benefits of this, to be honest.
Help a dumbo, please?

rhooie (author)2012-10-04

Very interesting. Do you feel this design increases yield? Or would it be the same square footage without the pyrimid.

Gareth0123 (author)rhooie2012-10-05

We yield greater cropping rates from all of our planters than we do from ground level vegetable plots.

The tiers allow us to better manage a given area. We can select plants that grow to different heights and plant them in the tiers according to their light requirements. With the plants at different heights a little thought at the sowing time allows us position and space according to leaf canopy cover so that one plant does not shade out the other.

The Pyramid planter is being used by the Build/Open Community gardening group for Herbs and flowers in a large open space so sun light availability is not a real issue.

Our other vegetable planters are either stepped from the rear or from a corner and have been placed so that they receive the maximum amount of daily sunlight available.

Growing in tiers allows us to easily spot feed and weed to the cropping plant's requirements

zanne101 (author)2012-10-02

Outstanding! Simple, but gets the job done efficiently. Wish I had this a few years back when I tried to set up a small garden plot. The weeds and bunnies defeated me, but with something like this, I could have planted the same amount of plants in a condensed space and might have had more success.
Nice work.

Gareth0123 (author)zanne1012012-10-02

Thank you for your very nice comments: they are much appreciated.

I donated this particular planter to the Build Community Garden, at the Open Academy her in Norwich. The Pyramid is now being utlised as part of a learn difficulities program, and it is giving pleasure to many people.

I like the design so much, that I adapted it slightly to suit our garden and our requirements, by providing a small flower bed around the base of a young Plum tree.

zanne101 (author)Gareth01232012-10-02

This reminds me of "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. His ideas would work great with this. I have his original book and it still holds up today.

I like the idea of putting this around a small tree - one would have to be careful of not having the soil up against the root collar where it would eventually rot the lower trunk. You could even plant a low stature blueberry bush or something similar in the center. PVC rods (or something like that) could be curved over and covered to extend the season too. You've given me some great ideas.

Very nice that you donated one - I'm sure it is much appreciated.

meatchris (author)zanne1012012-10-04

If you're wanting to use it around a tree, why not incorporate a square in the center, and leave just that square free of soil?

zanne101 (author)meatchris2012-10-04

That's basically what I was thinking - building a square in the center. A lot of my neighbors pile up dirt and mulch high on the root collar of their free standing trees and I always wonder where they came up with this idea. Not great for the trees.

brookefox (author)2012-10-04

Nice. Thanks for sharing. Making a mounding planter does not really add space, @zanne101, though the plants do have deeper soil in the upper positions.

zanne101 (author)brookefox2012-10-04

I know it doesn't add space, but is more efficient than planting in standard rows in a typical garden and this looks so good. If using the "Square Foot Gardening" ideas, you could really have a lot of plants in limited space.

shayhurs (author)2012-10-04

Problem I can see is you would need to walk on the garden to get to the top veggies.

Gareth0123 (author)shayhurs2012-10-04

The planter is not that big: 1.8 X 1.8 mtrs growing area, so even the centre of the top tier is only 0.9 mtr or arms length from the outside edge of bottom tier.

Wimpi (author)2012-10-04

I like the idea so much, that i will probably make one from composite material to make it last longer.
Great idea and thank you for posting.

Gareth0123 (author)Wimpi2012-10-04

I have 5 other planters of 4 different designs in our garden: all of which I have made from reclaimed pallet timbers. I will post all of these in another Instructable in a week or so.

waif69 (author)2012-10-04

Great instructable, this is very inspiring.

jessyratfink (author)2012-10-01

I love this design - it looks amazing. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I live in the UK, and own a small business designing and building: Cargo Carrying Bicycles, Bike Trailers, Pedal Powered Utility Trucks & Vans, Pedal Racing ... More »
More by Gareth0123:Sideways GrowBag Boxes.Making Fruit Vinegars; Alternative Method.Home Blended Wood Preserver.
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