We'll show you how to make this centerpiece-worthy wood log planter. It's perfect for succulents and will surely add charm to your container gardens or patio table.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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A Real Wooden Log Planter
If you have a pile of logs laying around your yard for fire wood or various other tasks, this project is for you! This shallow wood log planter is perfect for succulents or other small plants and makes an impressive outdoor display. It’s made from a real wooden log and hollowed out with a drill press/hole saw combo and chisel. And best of all, this project costs less than $40 to make and can be finished in an afternoon or less, making it one of our favorite wood log projects.
Log Planter Project Directions:
How to hollow out a log
To begin, select a log to your liking. We chose a log that had some character to it with a bit of moss and discoloration. The important factor here is that it is dry and not wet in the middle. Next, there are a variety of methods to choose from in order to hollow out the wood log. Here are a couple of options to choose from: using a chainsaw to carve out the middle or using a Forstner bit in a drill to make holes and then carving the edges out with a chisel. However, we chose to use a 3-in. diameter hole saw in a drill press to carve out the middle of our log planter because we used a hardwood.
1. Stabilize the Wood Log
Find the most stable position for the log and attach the base side to a board. This wood board should be slightly longer and wider than the log. Next, attach the board to the log with long screws. It is important to place the log further back on the wood board so it can ride against the fence of the drill press, allowing your hole saw cuts to be consistently parallel across the wood log. However, leave enough room so the log is not directly up against the fence thus scraping off the bark. The board on the log will help stabilize the log when cutting into it with a hole saw and drill press.
2. Cut Into the Wood Log
Before you begin cutting into the log, it’s smart to roughly mark the area for where you want the opening to be. We measured our opening to have about 2 inches of bark on each side. Now it’s time to carve out the wood, so securely clamp the log onto the drill press table. We used a 3-in. diameter hole saw in a drill press to cut into the log. Make several overlapping cuts with the hole saw as deep as it goes until you reach your desired log planter opening length. The max depth for our hole saw was 1-1/2 in. and the desired depth for the planter opening is 3 in., so we’ll need to make a second pass after roughly chiseling out this top layer of hole saw cuts.
3. Make a Second Pass with the Hole Saw
After chiseling out the top layer of hole saw cuts, make a second pass with the hole saw until the planter opening is 3 in. deep.
4. Carve Out Planter Opening
After the hole saw has done it’s job, remove the hole saw cuts with a chisel and a mallet or hammer. Smoothing out the edges takes up the most time, but since the log planter will be filled with dirt and succulents anyway, it doesn’t need be perfect. The biggest challenge here is to not chip off the bark.
5. Add Charcoal to the Base of the Planter
Add a layer of activated charcoal evenly across the base of the wood log planter. Activated charcoal helps with air filtration and is found at most garden centers. This drainage layer helps ensure that excess water doesn’t stay in the soil and cause root and log rot.
6. Plant Your Succulents
Remove the succulents from their plastic containers and move them to their new home in the wood log planter. We chose a variety of textures, heights, colors and widths of succulents to add visual interest and dimension to the planter. Decide and plan out what look you are going for when shopping for succulents at your local garden center.
7. Add Soil
Once all of your succulents are placed in their desired locations, add more soil around the plants so they don’t wiggle around. Firm the soil around the plant by pressing gently with your hands, and water the succulents when done. We used cactus mix potting soil because it provides a great soil structure and drainage for succulent plants.
It is also important to note that succulents don’t flourish when they sit in wet soil, so don’t over water your plant. Only water the succulent when the soil is dry and never water when wet or moist. And if you are worried about over watering your plant, place pebbles or gravel at the base of your planter to allow for drainage (like mentioned in step 5).