Cheap and Fast Rustic Planter

About: Professional engineer Unprofessional artist

Recently I had some time to redecorate my apartment, but not a lot of cash to fund it. I'd always planned to build cool balcony planters out of reclaimed pallet wood, to create that fantastic up-cycled look. I even had some pallets available from work that I could build them from. What I was lacking was the proper tools to build it, and I realised that if I didn't make my garden in the time I had available to me, I'd probably keep putting it off indefinitely.

So I came up with this brilliant concept. A set of rustic balcony planters that are incredibly affordable, quick to build, and require very few tools to assemble. An added bonus, is that they're very easy to transport, so you can move difficult to grow herbs indoors on hot days.

I love these planters, and my herbs have taken off! I now cook with ingredients from my garden several times a week. So I'm going to build another planter, and show you my process.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Here's what you'll need to make your own planter:

  • Items
    • Galvanised bucket ($5)
    • Double hook, the kind used for organising large tools in sheds ($2 for 4)
    • Sapling of your favourite herb ($3)
  • Tools and Consumables
    • Power drill
    • Rivet gun and rivets
    • Chalkboard paint and brush
    • Painters tape
    • Permanent marker
    • Chalk or other substitute
    • Scalpel, safety blade or other substitute

While a rivet gun isn't a very common tool to have, they're usually pretty cheap at any hardware store. It's worth getting just for the fun of it, they're like a stable gun for metal!

Also chalkboard paint can be a little pricey, and we won't be using a lot of it on this project, so it may seem wasteful. But I hope to add more fun projects soon that include it, as I really enjoy the finished effect here.

Finally, make sure you have a drill bit and rivet size, that matches the holes in your double hook.

Step 2: Step 2: Plan Your Hook Placement

So clearly, we need to mount this hook upside down. It's best to position it equidistant between the handles and near the top of the bucket, but not right up against the edge. Experiment a bit and find a position that works for you.

Once you've found that position, press firmly with both thumbs to try to reshape the bucket. The double hooks tend to be very sturdy, so they will need to sit along a flat surface. The bucket is made of thin metal, so it didn't require much pressure to shape it.

Now place the double hook into position and carefully hold it in place. Take a permanent marker and mark each hole on the bucket, we will be drilling each of these positions, so the position needs to be accurate.

Step 3: Step 3: Get Drilling!

The next step is to drill each mark we've made. It's important to be precise as any offset may make riveting difficult.

While we've got the drill here, you can drill a hole or even multiple holes, on the bottom of the far side of the bucket (opposite side to the hook). When hanging, this corner is the lowest point of the planter, so it's the best place to put some drainage.

Step 4: Step 4: a Riveting Development

Wow we're almost there, load your rivet gun with a rivet, thread it through the hook and bucket, then pull the trigger till it goes CRACK!

It's a very satisfying sound I think, do this for the remaining holes and then you're functionally done! Congratulations, now we get to decorate.

Step 5: Step 5: Painting the Patch

Using several strips of your painters tape, create a rectangle on the front side of your bucket, this is going to form our stencil. Take a permanent marker and draw the shape of the label/patch that you want to paint.

Using a scalpel or blade, carefully cut along the line, being sure not to injure your self. The tape cuts very easily, so you won't need to apply much pressure to trace the line.

Pull off the tape inside your outline, then apply a first layer of paint. Once that has fully dried, apply a second coat of paint. Once the second coat is no longer wet to touch, you can remove the stencil. This is the best way to ensure a nice clean line on your patch.

Once the label has fully dried, it's time to finally use this thing.

Step 6: Step 6: Finishing Touches

Fill the planter halfway up with soil, place your herb in the centre of the bucket and fill around the sides of the herb. It's also a good idea to add some potting fertiliser as your planting.

With some chalk, or in my case a chalk pen, write the name of your herb on the bucket.

Finally, hang your new herb garden on your balcony!

Please remember to place your planters on the inside of the balcony!

It's a bucket filled with 10 litres of soil, if it was knocked off it's hooks it could really hurt someone...

You now successfully made yourself a herb garden, you can repeat this guide and make one for everyone of your favourite herbs. Good luck!

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