Door number planter
Why I made this
Beginner 1 Hour / Hand tools
The completed planter - numbers are blurred cos it’s my number!
This is really a simple project you can easily build it from reclaimed/recycled materials. It makes a real impact to a front approach. Think of it as a combination between a hanging basket and a wood-carved door number.
What you need - tools, time, difficulty
The idea - the reasoning behind design decisions
Design & build - including simpler alternative
Lessons learned - what would I do differently
Conclusion - my thoughts on building this
What you need
- Hand Saw
- Router (I used a palm one)
- Paints, finishes etc.
Disclaimer: This is a description of a build I did. You are welcome to use it and adapt it but you do so at your own risk. I am not responsible for any accidents or injury you receive trying to build this. My estimate for difficulty is an estimate and if you find it too difficult or risky, ask someone better qualified to assist you.
That is presuming the wood is already in a state to cut up and use. e.g. I used pallet wood and the one hour is after breaking up the pallet. It also includes the time taken to carve the numbers but does not include drying time for the finish.
Free as I already had the materials
This is a really simple design and build. It’s a box planter where the rear side is longer. That side has door numbers carved into it which are then painted. I fixed a cheap solar light on the top to make the door number visible when it gets dark.
I also used some strong clear plastic reclaimed from a delivery of other stuff to line the planter. This is not the kind of flimsy stuff that food comes in but thicker and stronger. You could also use weed-control fabric (I had some left over from my green wall and raised bed) but I chose the plastic to ensure the wood was better protected from the water in the soil.
Drainage holes were made in the bottom of the plastic liner and the planter itself.
Acknowledgement My design was inspired by a similar one from a DIY TV Shows on the BBC, here in the UK. I adapted the one they had. There are many (probably hundreds of) versions of this kind of planter on the web so I don’t think the one on the BBC is unique or proprietary. Also the show was teaching you how to make it. That said, it would be remiss of me to not give a hat tip to “Jay and Dom’s Home Fix (external link)” which is where I got the inspiration.
Design and build
- cut the wood.
- sand the wood to your preferred “rustic” level.
- use the router to carve the door numbers in (I made the depth of these about 3-5mm)
- paint the numbers (I used external garden paint tester pots I already had)
- finish all the wood (I used several coats of an exterior, clear varnish)
- assemble the box. I did the back and sides first, then added the plastic liner before fixing the front of the planter on.
Some people make these freestanding but I chose to mount mine on the wall of my porch. This was done with a couple of rawplugs and screws. One behind the light (which fits on two protruding screws) and one just above the planter - which is then hidden by the plant itself. Drill pilot holes for the screws. This is especially important if using reclaimed timber as it might be more prone to splitting when under pressure from the screws.
If you are going to carve the numbers with a router, start shallower than you need and then go over it again to make it deeper. I just drew the numbers freehand in pencil but you could print some from your computer and use that as a template.
Once that’s done you can add the light, compost/soil and plant. The sizes shown in the iso metric are entirely optional. Use whatever suits the wood you have, the space you are putting this in and the size of the plant you want to use.
To make this even simpler you could buy metal door numbers and screw them onto the back panel here. That saves the routing (by far the hardest part to get right but not that hard) and also reduces the time taken quite a bit.
Apply finish before assembly
I saw a tip about finishing these sorts of project before you assemble them. I don’t always do that but I did here. Applying the varnish before I assembled the box meant that the unexposed part (the bits where the timber touched other sides) were protected more than they would be if I assembled it and then applied the varnish. My wood had a rough surface so I sanded it back to be smooth but not to the level I might use for something that was being handled all the time, but it needed to be fairly smooth to ensure the varnish could do its job better.
The contrast of the colours might be important
I like the colours I used for the numbers but at night they are not as visible as they could be. If it’s important that your number is visible from say 100m away and in low light, you might like to consider using a a higher contrast colourscheme.
I don’t regret my choice as the colours match with a small picket fence just in front of my house. You can see this in the photo to the left and also see that the light used in the planter was a spare from a set of four I bought for the fence . By the way that fence was made from a reclaimed pallet and an old fence post chopped into three. The total cost for the whole fence and planter makeover was around £15 for the colour paint (tester pots) and lights (£9 from Aldi).
This was a great project, very easy to build and very satisfying to make. It really brightens up our front approach and is so much nicer than the standard door numbers I’ve seen.