Introduction: Planter Is a Sharp Idea!

About: I grew up the oldest girl of seven children. I had to do a lot, make a lot, and learned a lot. Then as a mother of 4 children, arts and crafts making came with the territory. Now being empty-nesters, my husb…

Hello to all who read this. This planter is pretty easy as it only has three sides to build using the wall of the barn for the back wall and it has no bottom.

Our beautifully landscaped patio looks out over a big back yard to a beautiful pasture with horses. Gazing to the right is the plain ol' barn. My suggestion of hydrangeas, banana trees, roses, and such were nixed long ago. My husband, Mike, could never decide what he wanted.

The idea came when he was looking through the online local marketplace and saw cactus for sale. He didn't even know cactus grew in Louisiana. When he read that, it was like a light bulb went off in our heads at the same time. We'll plant cactus out there. You gotta know what a John Wayne fan he is. Having a cactus planter right under his office window is the perfect compliment to his southwestern style office, homage to the old westerns. We even had a son thirty-four years ago, named him Duke. I'm serious.

His first thought was to get a Saguaro cactus, the big ones with arms, symbol of the old west. Well that idea was scratched immediately due to insane high dollar for Saguaro. This ad had a picture of Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia, they look like paddles) and was crazy cheap, all you want for $15.00. With gloves and shovels, we drove a few miles into the country and loaded our pick-up truck.

Our planter is custom-sized to fit between the open barn door and the cable/electrical entry. We also read up on the soil preference of cactus which is a sandy mixture and must have good drainage. This site has a natural slope to the left away from the barn door to the pasture and this would aid in proper drainage. This barn is also Mike's workshop and he had lots of fence rail stacked out back from years of mending fences. They are 1x6, perfect for the building material and were beautifully aged and matched the barn.




Bosch cordless 1/2' drill with star drive bit


1/2 Lb. deck screws, #9 x 2 1/2" star drive


Tape measure


Box Cutter



1x6 x12 treated lumber

1x6 x14 treated lumber

4x4 x2 treated lumber

1x6 x14 Decking (to be ripped in half for top edging)


Filling the planter was where the cost came in:

5 bags of pond pebbles, each 50 lb. bag is .05 cu ft. $4.94,Total: $24.70

7 bags of sand ,each 50 lb. bag is .05 cu ft. $2.57, Total: $17.99

7 bags of topsoil, each bag is 1.0 cu ft. $2.25, Total: $15.75

5 bags of white rock, each bag is .05 cu ft. $4.08, Total: $20.40

Step 1: Make Your Cuts

A. (4) 1x6 x32"

B. (2) 1x6 x7'

C. (2) 4x4 x11.5"

D. (1) 1x3 x7'2" This 1x3 is the 1x6 ripped down the middle.

E. (1) 1x3 x34" with 45 degree angle miter cut to left end.

This 1x3 also from the 1x6 ripped down the middle.

F. (1) 1x3 x34" with 45 degree angle miter cut to right end.

This 1x3 also from the 1x6 ripped down the middle.

These 2 pieces (E) and (F) should fit the front edge with mitered edges to fit like a picture frame.

Step 2: Put the Pieces Together

1. Attach the two bottom sides (A) flush with the 4x4 with 2 screws.

2. Attach one of the front pieces (B) to the 4x4's with 2 screws to each.

3. Attach the top sides (A) to the 4x4's with 2 screws.

*Note: The 4x4's are not as tall as the sides as this will allow the soil to come to the edges.

4. Attach the top front panel (B) with 2 screws to each side.

5. Attach the edging with screws so that there is a 1" overhang in the front

6. Attach the side edging (E) and (F) neatly to the front with 1 inch overhang for that picture frame look.

We did not stain the edging because this natural look gave it a pop of a light color.

Please excuse my pictures. I have just started learning Tinkercad, but now's the deadline!

Step 3: Adding the Ingredients

We placed the planter under the window and leveled it. The rocks from the driveway are scattered around and we used them to disguise the slope. Then the pouring in the fillers began and we would soon see if Mr. Math figured the cubic feet correctly.

1. First in were the pond pebbles to aid with the drainage and these were spread evenly with the rake.

2. Next came the topsoil and sand which we premixed. Cactus soil can be purchased at a higher price so, of course, we added the extra labor to save money.

3. The white rock was not essential, but it certainly adds to the flavor of the southwest. Plus it made the whole presentation look greener against the aged wall of the barn.

Mike, Mr.Math, gets an A+ for perfect cubic feet totals.

Step 4: The Fun Part

We had let the load of cactus dry out for a week. The pieces we had to slice needed to callous over and then were ready for planting. This time I was prepared with actual cactus gloves up to the elbows when I began sorting for the best specimens. I also used big padded tongs. It was easy to push away the white rock and dig shallow holes for every plant. I had already been collecting succulents and small cacti and were displayed on the patio. They were volunteered for the layout. I was ok with that. We even added the very last yellow rose the nursery had. It was quite scrawny. We put this "yellow rose of Texas" over at the far left side and we will be able to water it often as it will drain away from the cactus. As you can see it has since bloomed. It was actually a thrill to see these cactus take hold and begin to thrive. And they are growing "pups." That's what the new growths are called. The ton of left-over prickly pear are planted out in back of the barn and are covered in these new babies. We have enough cactus to landscape the front of the barn to be seen from the office picture window.

I tried making this last picture look like an old tintype from days gone by. We like to think that John Wayne would have liked this planter. Matt Dillon, too.

We would love to be part of your decision making. Thank you!

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