How to build a storm proof planter with solar lights. This was not the initial name I had for this project but after lifting it into place I soon realised no hurricane or tornado will move this thing. Concrete is a great, cheap material for casting shapes. I had some sheets of tin sheeting (for roofing) which I had acquired when I was renovating and converting my house a few years back. See here if you want to see that: House conversion I thought the corrugations which were on the sheeting would look more interesting than just a plain circular shape when cast.
Step 1: Have a Look at the Video Below.
Look at the video above....
Step 2: Materials and Tools
Ready to use concrete
2 pieces of corrugated sheeting 330mm (13inches) high
5 lengths of 50mm (2inch) box steel 457mm (18 inches) long
2 lengths of 50mm (2inch) box steel 203 mm (8 inches) long
4 plastic end caps for the steel.
4 solar lights
All purpose silicone
Drill + drill bit
Hammer drill (optional)
Step 3: Making the Formwork.
To start I measured two lengths of the corrugated sheeting and then cut them to length using an angle grinder. (330mm (13inches) long) I drilled pilot holes and then pop riveted the pieces together to create a circular shape. The rivets create a very strong joint for such a small fixing. For extra security and strength I wrapped the form with wire. I tacked some scrap wood blocks at the bottom of the form to keep it in shape and then clamped it to my bench.
Step 4: Fill the Gaps.
To fill any gaps where the concrete may run during pouring I used a general propose silicone to seal them up.
Step 5: Drainage Holes.
To allow excess water to escape when the planter is in use I added some drainage holes. You could drill these after but I choose to put them in at the pouring stage as I needed something to hold the bucket in place for the next step. For the holes I cut 3 pieces of pvc pipe and wrapped them with regular cling film to stop them filling up during pouring. I didn't give a length for these as they may differ depending on the size of your form or bucket.
Step 6: Void for the Plant(s)
To create the void for the plants I used a bucket. I wrapped it in cling film to try and make it easier to remove it after curing. You could actually leave the bucket in there and just trim the top of it after curing. I then placed the bucket on top of the pvc pipes in the form and added some heavy weights. The weights are so the bucket will not rise or float when vibrating the concrete. I rubbed a little oil on the form to also help with the release after curing. There is proper shuttering oil you could use but I just used some vegetable oil as I needed so little of it.
Step 7: Mixing the Concrete.
I placed the bags of ready to use multipurpose concrete in a wheel barrow and added water (follow instruction on the bag) Using a shovel I mixed the concrete thoroughly to a workable consistency. If the concrete is too dry you won't be able to remove the air pockets and therefore will not get a smooth finish on form. Too wet and it can weaken the concrete so take care when mixing.
Step 8: Pouring the Concrete.
I filled the form up to the top of the drainage holes and tamped it, then replaced the bucket and weights and filled it the rest of the way. To remove the air bubbles tap the form all the way around with a hammer for a few minutes, you will see all the bubbles breaking the surface. I had a SDS drill so I put it into hammer action and used this to vibrate the concrete. If you have one use it, it will speed up this process. After vibrating I smoothed off the top a trowel.
Step 9: Curing.
I left the concrete to cure for three day, I then carefully removed the bucket and the outside form (corrugated sheeting) and left to cure for another 4 days before attempting to lift it. Another advantage of using the pop rivets is that the form can be disassembled easily and then put back together so you can make multiples of them.
Step 10: Metal Frame.
While the concrete was curing I made up the frame on which the concrete pot would sit. It is just a simple frame welded together (sizes above) I kept the base 50mm (2inches) up off the ground just because I thought it would look nicer. I cleaned up the welding joints with a grinding disc before applying three coats of an outdoor metal paint. To finish the ends of the box steel I inserted some plastic caps which are just tapped into the end of the box steel.
Step 11: Solar Lights.
This planter was going to placed at the front door of my house so I decided to add some lights to it just to highlight it at night time so I purchased some garden solar lights from my hardware store. I had to drill a hole into the plastic caps to allow the lights to sit down properly. I did not secure them at this stage in case I hit off them or damaged them while moving everything into place.
Step 12: Moving Into Position.
As it is concrete it is quite heavy so this is probably is a two person job. After placing into position I secured the lights with glue and lined the inside of the planter with weed matting to stop the soil from falling through the drainage hole but still letting the excess water escape. I placed a shrub into the top and filled it up with soil.
Step 13: Thats It.
And that is it in its final position! I am delighted at how it turned out. I am most happy with the effect the corrugations from the sheeting give the planter. As I said above concrete is a great cheap material for casting different shape and objects. You can even try adding different coloured cement dyes or experimenting with different textures in your formwork. Thank you very much for looking.
If you would like to see more projects from me you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here:Eamon Walsh DIY