How to build a raised planter with seating

Here’s my raised planter with seating area for two. This was a DIY raised planter built on a budget. I’d like to share with you how I made this with this easy to follow step by step guide. I’ve used timber which is available from most hardware stores or your local timber merchant and a basic set of tools that many of you may already have. This is a great idea for garden seating

This can be built within a weekend and will provide a place to grow flowers, vegetables, fruits or simple grasses and ferns. It also provides a place to sit, relax and enjoy your garden.

We initially built our raised planter for an extra space to grow to fruits like strawberries. But we also wanted some additional seating in the garden where we could enjoy the evening sun. This spot was perfect. We use it almost every day in the warmer months.

Find the perfect spot

You might already have a good idea where your raised planter is going to be located, but if not, consider these factors before you get started:

  • Where does the sun rise and set in your garden. Will the seating area be perfect for the morning sun or evening sunsets?
  • Will the planter get suitable light during the day to grow everything you want? If it’s in a shaded area you might need to grow different plants that will survive low levels of light.
  • Is the planter on a slope and therefore need reinforcing to prevent movement?
  • Is the planter near trees and tree roots. The planter will need to be built in a location that has a good sturdy base. Tree roots can easily grow into and disrupt the stability of your planter.
  • Avoid building over or too close to drainage and sewerage access points. You’ll need to ensure access is still easy for these important maintenance areas.

Clearing the area ready to build

It’s best to make sure the area is clean and tidy before you start anything else. You’re going to need suitable space in which to build you planter. Measuring and cutting the large pieces of wood can take up a reasonable amount of space so make sure you have plenty. Now is a good time to have a little sort out in your garden if required.

Mark out the area

Using some string, chalk or simple sticks you can mark out the area you wish to build your planter. It is completely up to you how big you want your planter to be. Try drawing some basic plans on a piece of paper before you get started and measure up your space to see what you can fit in.

Decide how big you want your seating area to be. Will it be for one, two or more people? Try and allow at least 45cm width for each person to sit comfortably next to each other.

Our planter was built to fit into a specific space in our garden. An area that gets all the evening sun and partially blocks a unpleasant looking fence. It is the length of the patio and fits nicely to one side of the garden. We used to have a low down border with flowers that was edged with half log rolls. These wooden borders were completely rotten so we decided to make this raised planter in its place.

Materials

You can find the above in a 3 pack to save some money here.

You don’t have to use the same timber as me. I would have preferred a sleeper thickness for this project but I also wanted to keep the price down. Find the sleepers here.

The price difference is quite considerable between the sleeper (200x100mm x 2.4m) and the construction timber I used (145x45mm x 2.4m).

Getting started – How to build a raised planter with seating area

I started by removing a row of patio slabs for the area that would support the planter. I wanted the planter to be wide enough to have seating and plants. The total width was about 70cm. I levelled off the area using a shovel and wheel barrow. A large spirit level allowed me to get a nice even surface. With the area clear I laid some weed protection and started to put some of the wood into place.

Weed protection was used to prevent weeds from growing up into the planter and also out the side from underneath.

Protecting your wood

Looking back, something I wish I had done was treat the wood before construction. Especially the bottom row of wood. The bottom pieces are more likely to rot as they may be sat in stagnant water. Therefore I’d recommend painting the wood before you start joining the pieces.

It’s also a good idea to consider building your planter on gravel that will help water dissipate. to do this simply spread medium sized gravel over the are you are building.

We used a shed and fence paint from Cuprinol to protect the wood. It’s available in a number of different colours and should last about 5 years. It’s also very well priced in my opinion. Two coats of this should be enough to last.

Here I used F-clamps to pull the pieces together and hold them securely when screwing. A pilot hole and counter sunk piece was used before inserting any screws. This will help prevent splitting the wood.

Continue to build upwards until you have three layers of 145mm timber. Now it’s time to think about where you want your seating. This part is completely up to you. We went for 110cm wide seat and 44cm deep.

The seating platform can be supported with a simple frame made out of the 47x50mm timber. You’ll need to cut 45mm off each of the first side pieces so that they line up with the rest of the timber. This can be done using a circular saw.

Here is an image from the front of the completed planter so that you can see the seat configuration in a little more detail. You may want to lean the back support a little to make this more comfortable.

The next step is to complete the side walls all the way round.

Moisture barrier

Now it’s time to line the inner walls with a moister barrier. This will prevent the wood from rotting too quickly.

Using a staple gun I fixed the moister barrier to the sides and along the bottom of the planter. I made sure there were drainage holes in the middle so that excess water could escape into the soil below.

The next job was to fit the top rail to the planter. This would give the impression of a thicker wood.

For this I have used 95x45mm timber with the corners cut at 45 degree angles. You can see in the picture above I have used blocks of wood so that the top rail can be securely fixed to the planter without any visible screw heads.

Here is the completed planter build before we’ve added any colour of plants.

As you can see it’s quite deep and will require a lot of soil to fill it. This was intentional for us as we filled it will all the soil we dug out for our ‘in ground trampoline‘.

For many of you it will be a good idea to build a platform all the way across the planter at a similar height to the seat. This will save you trying to fill the whole thing with soil which could get expensive. Just remember to install a moisture barrier and allow for drainage in the centre.

What to put in the bottom of the planter

To make a good bed for you plants I’d recommend starting with a layer of medium size stones (2-4cm which will help water drain through the bottom. Then a layer of organic materials such as grass cuttings, straw and leaves which will create a good compost in which your plants can thrive. Covering this section with cardboard is a good way to prevent weeds from growing. Then a final layer of soil/compost will finish off the perfect environment for your plants to grow.

If you have a larger area to fill then you can also use pieces of wood on the bottom section.

Painting your raised planter.

Make sure you have a good covering for your planter to protect it from rot. The thick wood should last many years but a good coat of paint once a year will make it last many more.

Adding plants

This is where you can be a little creative. Do you want to be surrounded by beautiful flowers, bushy grasses or ivy and ferns. It’s completely up to you.

Strawberries, lavender and pink flowers were our first choice.

We quickly found that this arrangement became far too overcrowded and we needed to spread out the plants a lot more.

And here is the planter with a lick of paint.

A year on and we’ve added a porcelain tile patio and painted the planter grey to match the rest of the garden.

What a big difference this has made to the garden. Now we can enjoy the sun and wildlife from our favourite spot in the garden.

Tools

What tools will you need for this project? Here is a list of tools I used but you may find something similar works just as well.

This concludes the planter build. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question below.

If you like the look of my other garden projects then you can read the step by step instructions in each on these posts:

Building a planter on a slope

If you’re building the planter on a slope you’ll need to think about how the retaining walls will work. Digging in a step will be required and applying suitable support is key. You can use sleeper support spike to ensure a solid fixing to the ground. Try one of these:

More projects around the garden

Here are a few more of my projects that helped transform my garden into a paradise.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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