Vertical Garden Planters and Rack
Take your gardening in a new direction -- up. Create a wall of greenery by hanging do-it-yourself planters in two sizes on a three- or six-tier rack you can build.
If you need only three planters, you can just build the bottom section. For six planters of different sizes, add the top section using most of the same steps and techniques. Before building the planters, decide how you’ll use them. Either drill holes in the bottom for drainage and plant directly in the units, or place potted plants inside the boxes.
To make assembly of the Vertical Garden a breeze, we’ve provided three animations that will help you visualize the steps. Watch the videos for some additional easy to follow assembly instructions.
Build the Planter Holder
Step 1: Sand the smoother side of the cedar boards with 120-grit sandpaper before cutting the individual parts to length. Cut the lower unit sides (A), upper unit sides (B), and rails (C) to length (Cutting List & Project Diagram). Also cut a scrap board the length of the rails to use while assembling the upper unit.
For a stable plant rack, it’s essential that all like parts -- such as the sides and rails -- be cut to identical lengths. Conduit pieces should also be cut to the same lengths to avoid slipping out of the mounting holes or bowing the sides. You can stack multiple parts on top of each other and cut them at the same time using a miter saw -- this improves accuracy and saves time.
Step 2: Refer to the conduit hole locations on the diagram and mark them on the sides (A, B) (Drawing 1, Project Diagram). Remember to mark a mirror-image version of the holes to create right and left sides on the upper and lower units. Using a 3/4" Forstner bit taped to show a 1/2" drilling depth, drill conduit holes on the lower unit sides (A) and upper unit sides (B) (Photo 1).
Step 3: Temporarily clamp the upper and lower unit sides (A, B) to pairs of rails (C) positioned at the top of the sides (Drawing 2, Project Diagram). Use the scrap board you cut earlier to space the sides at the bottom, and then mark and drill countersunk pilot holes in the sides; drive 2" screws to assemble the units (Photo 2).
Step 4: For the lower unit, remove the spacer and add the lower rails; attaching them with screws. Then unclamp both assemblies and remove the screws to take one side off of the upper and lower units.
Step 5: Using a hacksaw, cut a dozen 29"-long pieces of 1/2" conduit. Clean up the conduit ends with a metal file as needed.
Step 6: Fill each hole -- on both sides of the unit -- halfway with construction adhesive (Photo 3). Place pieces of conduit into the holes on the partially assembled frame.
Step 7: One piece of conduit at a time, slip the pipes into the holes on the loose side (Photo 4). When all of the pipes fit, re-attach the side to the rails using 2" screws in the holes you created earlier.
Build the Planters
Step 1: Decide how many large and small planter boxes you want to hang from the planter rack. (We built four small and two large planters.) Cut the large planter front/back/bottoms (D), sides (E), and small planter front/back/bottoms (F) to length (Drawing 3 and 4, Project Diagram). If you’ll plant directly in the boxes (not in pots), drill drain holes where shown.
Step 2: On both sizes of planters, first drill pilot holes and glue and screw the fronts and backs to the bottoms. Then glue and screw the sides (E) to the front, back, and bottom of each planter (Photo 5).
Step 3: Use a hacksaw or jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade to saw the metal strapping into three 6-3/4"-long pieces for each small planter or three 10-1/2"-long pieces for each large planter. Use a metal file to smooth the cut ends, and then wash the pieces with a degreasing dishwashing liquid. Paint the outside face of each metal strap. We used Swizzle Stick (#ar2006) to paint four of the long and eight of the short metal straps. We painted two of the long metal straps Day at the Jewelers (#ar2004) and four short metal straps Catwalk (#ar2005).
Finish the Planters and Rack
Step 1: Use painter’s tape to mask off the conduit, and then prime the planter racks; let dry. Apply two coats of paint. (We painted the upper and lower racks Catwalk, the smaller planter boxes Day of the Jewelers, and the larger planter boxes Catwalk.) Let dry overnight.
Step 2: Apply a fine bead of construction adhesive to the unpainted backs of the metal strips and clamp them to a planter box and allow the adhesive to dry (Drawing 3 and 4, Project Diagram).
Step 3: Attach the mending plates to the top back edge of each lower rack side, drill pilot holes, and secure with 1" screws (Drawing 2, Project Diagram). Set the upper assembly in position and secure the mending plate to the upper assembly with screws through the mending plates.
Good to Know: Use angle brackets to prevent the rack from tipping forward once it’s loaded with planters. If you know where you’ll set the planter rack and can find the wall studs with an electronic stud finder, adjust the bracket positions to screw directly into wall studs.
Step 4: Position the rack against a wall and secure with screws and angle brackets attached to the top of the planter (be sure to use screws that reach a wall stud or wall anchor). Then add flowers to your planters and hang the planters on the conduit rods.