How to Make a Wood Log Planter for Succulents

Find a new use for that fallen tree by creating a natural wood log planter.


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.

Tools Required

  • Activated Charcoal
  • Chisel
  • Drill
  • Drill press
  • Gardening trowel
  • Hammer or Mallet
  • Hole saw

Materials Required

  • Activated Charcoal
  • Cactus Mix Potting Soil
  • Scrap Board
  • Succulents
  • Two 1-1/4 in. Screws
  • Wood Log

A Real Wooden Log Planter

If you have a pile of logs sitting in your yard for firewood 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. Best of all, this project is inexpensive can be finished in an afternoon or less, making it one of our favorite wood log projects.

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 hardwood.

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 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.

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.

Wood log planter attach board to stabalize

Step 2

Cut Into the Wood Log

Before you cut into the log, roughly mark the area 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.

hole saw drill press log planter

Step 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.

log planter hole saw cuts second pass

Step 4

Carve Out Planter Opening

After the hole saw has done its 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 to be perfect. The biggest challenge here is to not chip off the bark.

log planter chisel and hammer opening

Step 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 causes root and log rot.

log planter pour charcoal

Step 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.

log planter planting succulents

Step 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 overwater your plant. Only water the succulent when the soil is dry and never water when wet or moist. If you are worried about over-watering your plant, place pebbles or gravel at the base of your planter to allow for drainage.

log planter cactus soil

Step 8

Finishing Up Your Log Planter

You can give this succulent log planter as a gift but be sure to make and keep one for yourself! They make a great centerpiece for a patio table or will fit right in within a window sill. Now go check out these 14 ways to decorate with succulents around your home!

completed shot of succulent log planter above