Planter Tub Cover

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About: I'm an ex IT professional and now enjoying retired life. The most stressful part of my day these days is feeding the chooks and mowing the grass on my mini tractor. I have always been a tinkerer and handyman...

It's starting to heat up down here in OZ with summer fast approaching. I have a potted mandarin tree which struggles a bit in the heat, mainly because I have it growing in a large black plastic tub and I'm sure the roots over heat causing the developing fruit to drop. Not only that, it also looks rather ugly, and me dripping paint on it sometime in the past hasn't helped either. It still has some fruit left on, so a bit late for this spring, but maybe better results next year. I thought I would dress things up a bit by concealing the tub within a wooden cover and hopefully keep the soil cooler as well.

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Step 1: Working Out the Materials Required

I started by measuring the distance around the top of the tub and then divided that by the width of a paling to work out how many palings I would need. With a circumference of the tub exactly 2000mm ÷ 95mm (the width of a paling) I would therefore need 21 palings plus a smaller 52mm section to wrap all the way around. I therefore went with 22 palings and would cut off the overlap at a later stage. I didn't want to have the palings standing vertically, but rather have them following the shape of the tub, imitating a half rum barrel. Having the palings at different heights (in my opinion) would look better than them being all the same length, so went with that approach. The height of the tub was 330mm. The fence palings I used came in 1500mm lengths, so to reduce waste, I cut four lengths per paling - 2 x 360mm, 1 x 380mm and 1 x 400mm.

Step 2: Making a Jig for the Palings

The circumference of the bottom of the barrel was 1500mm, so to emulate the appearance of a wine barrel, I would have to cut each paling in the shape of a wedge. 1500mm ÷ 21 = 71.42mm (which I rounded up to 72mm), so I would therefore have to trim off close to 12m per side, tapering from 95mm down to 72mm. To perform this task I made a simple jig as follows. Run a piece of scrap wood through your table saw. This will become your base. Mount one of the palings on top of the base with one corner just touching the side edge and the other end overlapping your base by the amount you need to remove - in my case 12mm. Screw pieces of scrap timber against the paling on at least two sides to hold it in place as shown. You now have a jig to cut off a triangular strip on one side. Run all your palings through, just cutting the one side first on each piece. Once complete, you will need to realign your template to remove the strip from the other side by repeating the above.

Step 3: Adding a Bit of Character

With all pieces connected,it was then time to stand them all up, remove the overlap and join the two ends together. Although I was happy with the result, I thought I would enhance the overall appearance by placing a few holes of differing sizes around the side. I did this with a hole saw.

Step 4: The Burn Off

I wasn't keen on finishing it off with a stain or a coat of paint as it wouldn't take long for it to look shabby after being exposed to the weather. I decided to give it an already weathered look by first burning the face of the cover with a blow torch. I would have normally just lit a fire in the back yard and tossed the whole thing on for a few minutes, but with current fire restrictions in place due to the drought, I had to make do with this much slower method. I then gave the surface a scrub down with a wire brush to remove the soot and expose the natural grain.

Step 5: Before and After

That done, all that was left to do was insert the mandarin tree.
Before and after shots.

Step 6: Joining Together

Laying all 22 pieces flat, I then proceeded to join them all together using some metal strapping. I wasn't quite sure if the strapping would bend nicely once folded into a circle, as there is the inward curve of the overall shape to consider as well, so I began placing the strapping at an angle. I then had to strap each paling to its neighbour as well, so I think may have over complicated this step, but anyhow all's well that ends well.

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    8 Discussions

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    shalnachywyt

    11 days ago

    Very nice. While I love the look of wood, I think in my climate that would attract every termite in the county.
    I think the real problem with your tree, however, is that it's in a pot that is way too small for the root system, judging by its height. I think you need to repot it and put some mulch on the top of the planter to help cool the root system down. Also get rid of the grass growing in the pot. That's just competing with the tree for nutrients.
    I have an orange tree as well that I put outside in the summertime (I'm in the mountains of East Tennessee and it can get up to the high 30s (Centigrade; high 90s Fahrenheit) so I keep it well watered as well. My tree is only about three feet tall (one meter) right now; but it's in a pot that is about 18 inches in diameter by 15 inches high (45.7 cm by 38.1 cm) and I keep it pruned to about three feet (one meter). I purchased it last year (2018) and it was only about half the height it is now and over the summer last year and this year it doubled in height!
    Here's more info on growing any kind of citrus in a container (take the spaces out):
    https : // www . kellogggarden . com / citrus-trees / 8-tips-growing-citrus-containers /

    2 replies
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    AussieAlfshalnachywyt

    Reply 10 days ago

    Hi,
    Thanks for the complement and feedback.
    Plenty of termites here as well, but the wood i used is treated pine and the tub sits on concrete, so no problem with those pests. That's not grass growing in the pot, but rather self seeded chives. You are right, they would be competing with the nutriments, but i like the look of them and i do feed my tree on a regular basis. You are also probably correct in that the tub is too small. I bought it as a dwarf tree, but it thinks otherwise. Sounds like you have a similar climate to here, however we are currently going through a prolonged dry spell. Everything should be growing well now, this time of year.
    Cheers....

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    shalnachywytAussieAlf

    Reply 10 days ago

    Yes, we went through a terrible dry spell of about six weeks and I lost about five small yew trees; all of the six boxwood bushes I bought last year to place in my (someday!) Zen garden and a few other plants as well. (That's what I get for not transplanting them into larger pots.) Strangely enough, the ajuga, which I was convinced was dead, survived after the rain finally came. (Okay, I got it on sale for six plants for $1, so if it died I wouldn't have freaked.)
    I do like the look of that burned wood, however. I've seen something like that done to Japanese traditional houses and fences. Apparently the "burned" wood acts like a water repellent, however, I thought from other videos I've seen that the water-repellent only seems to work on cedar and/or other naturally resistant woods. ::shrugs::

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    LaraLinx

    Question 10 days ago on Step 3

    For those of us who aren't regular woodworking folk, exactly how did you complete the joining? Wood glue? Nails? Wood staples? Thanks!

    2 answers
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    AussieAlfLaraLinx

    Answer 10 days ago

    Hi Lara,
    Nope no glue or nails, the metal bracing holds it all together.
    I just cut some more metal strips to join both ends together. I probably should have mentioned that in the ible.

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    LaraLinxAussieAlf

    Reply 10 days ago

    Thanks! That makes even more sense than methods I was imagining. Great post!

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    Highvoltagemath

    12 days ago

    Wow what a difference that cover made! Awesome job; thanks for sharing!

    1 reply