Overview: Materials, tools and costs
If you’re wishing for wisteria
or craving clematis, you
can plant them just steps
away in this planter and trellis for your
deck or patio. And if you build a pair of
them, you can create a privacy screen
or provide shade from the late afternoon
Similar planter/trellis combinations—made of wood or plastic—can
cost $200 or more at garden centers.
But you can build this one for as little
as $100 in one weekend.
To build this planter, you’ll need standard
woodworking tools like a table saw and a
miter saw. If you want to round the edges of
the wooden parts as we did, you’ll also need
a router and two round-over bits (1/4- and
1/2-in. radius). Our total materials bill was
about $140. Your cost will depend mostly on
the wood you choose for the planter box. We
built our planter from “select-grade” pine
boards, which cost about $60 altogether. If
you don’t mind a few knots, use construction-grade
pine, which will cost about $20. If you
live in a damp climate, consider rot-resistant
choices like cedar or teak. Pressure-treated
lumber is another good choice because it
costs about the same as construction-grade
pine and lasts practically forever. The drawback
is that you may have to let it dry for a
month before you start building.
Small-diameter bamboo for the planter box
slats and lattice is in stock at most home centers
and garden centers. The bamboo we used
was labeled “3/4 inch.” To find 1-1/2-in.-diameter bamboo for the trellis posts and
header, visit a large garden center or shop
online (search for “bamboo poles”). You’ll
find lower prices online, but those savings
may be offset by shipping charges. We bought
our bamboo at a garden center and
spent about $50. Select straight poles
for the trellis posts and header.
Bamboo planter and trellis
Bamboo Planter and Trellis
This bamboo planter and trellis looks handsome on a patio or deck and is durable as well.
Master a New Material
Bamboo is one of the world’s greatest building materials. It’s incredibly strong,
good-looking and cheap. And if you’re a weekend woodworker, you already have
the tools to work with it. But bamboo doesn’t behave exactly like wood, so you’ll
also need some new tricks up your sleeve. We’ll show you how to build with this
hard and brittle, irregular and hollow material.
Step 1: Build the Planter Box
To get started, rip four 8-ft.-long 1x6s
into strips on your table saw. You’ll
need two 2-3/4-in.-wide strips for the
top rim, two 1-3/4-in.-wide strips for the
cleats and legs, and four 2-1/2-in.-wide
strips for the legs, rails and stiles. Glue
the rails and stiles together to make
frames (Photo 1). Sand the frames and
round the inside edges with your router
and a 1/4-in. round-over bit. Then mask
around the frames (Photo 2).
You’ll need to cut about 120 slats to
fill the frames. To avoid measuring them
all, clamp a stop block next to your-miter
saw. With the slats cut, mark guidelines
1-1/4 in. from the top and bottom of the
frames and glue the slats between them
(Photo 3). Place the best side of each slat
face down. Alternate thin and thick
slats, and the direction of the tapers—one narrow end up, the next down.
While you’re waiting for the adhesive
to harden, glue together the
planter legs. Round the edges with a
1/2-in. round-over bit.
Assemble the planter box (Photo 4).
Take diagonal corner-to-corner measurements
to make sure the box is square
before you screw the pressure-treated
floor boards to the cleats. Top off the
planter box with rim boards, mitered at
the corners and screwed to the frames.
We rounded the edges of our rim material
with a 1/4-in. round-over bit before
cutting it to length. The rim overhangs
the inside of the box by 1/2 in.
Bamboo planter and trellis details
Figure A: Bamboo Planter and Trellis Details
40 in. wide x 18 in. deep
x 72 in. tall. All wood
parts are 3/4 in. thick.
Bamboo parts vary
in diameter from
3/8 to 3/4 in. unless
You can download Figure A and enlarge it in “Additional Information” below. Also find a complete Materials List in “Additional Information” below.
Step 2: Build the trellis
To assemble the lattice, first grab any
1x4s or 2x4s you have handy and
build a 1x4 frame with inner dimensions
of 2 x 4 ft. Take diagonal corner-to-corner measurements to make sure
the frame is square. Lay the first pole
across the frame from one corner to
the other and screw it to the frame.
Then add more poles, screwing each
to the frame (Photo 5). Although it’s
time-consuming, you must drill a
pilot hole for every screw—otherwise,
the bamboo will split.
Attach the second layer of bamboo
with wire ties and a “twister” tool
(Photo 6). Wire ties are designed to connect
the rebar that reinforces concrete,
so you’ll find them and a twister in the
masonry aisle at home centers. For a
neat, tight connection, pull upward on
the twister as it spins. When the lattice
is done, cut it out of the frame (Photo 7).
Next, build the bamboo frame that will
hold the lattice. Start by cutting kerfs in
the posts and header (Photo 8). Bamboo
can develop wide cracks as it dries out.
Cutting a kerf creates a single, straight
opening and prevents random splitting.
Then cut the tops of the posts
using a 1-1/2-in. hole saw (Photo 9).
Glue 4-in.-long 3/4 x 3/4-in. wooden
plugs into the posts to provide anchors
for the screws that fasten the header.
The plugs don’t have to fit tight; just
use lots of construction adhesive.
Drill the posts with a 3/4-in. hole
saw to create sockets for the rungs.
Don’t use a spade bit; the bamboo will
split. Insert the rungs and measure the
spread of the posts. To fit into the
planter box, the spread must be no
more than 27-1/2 in. Cut the rungs a
bit shorter if needed and then glue
them into the posts with construction
adhesive. Attach the header (Photo 10).
Leave the trellis frame on a flat surface
until the adhesive hardens, then
attach the lattice to the rungs. When
you screw the completed trellis to the
planter box, insert wooden blocks
behind the bottom ends of the posts.
Bamboo isn’t perfectly straight, so
you’ll have to experiment with blocks
of different thicknesses to make the posts plumb.
Tie wires and twister tool
Using Tie Wires
Wire ties are simple to use:
Bend each tie in half and
slip it over the bamboo.
Then hook the looped
ends with the twister tool
and spin. For faster twisting,
cut the handle off the
tool and chuck it into a drill
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Step 3: Finishing details
We finished our planter box with
deck stain. When you’re done finishing,
slice the masking tape around the
box frames with a utility knife and
peel off the tape. Add plastic furniture
glides to the legs to keep the wood
from soaking up moisture. To hold
soil, we used a 12-1/2-in. x 27-in.
plastic planter. You could use two or
three smaller pots instead.