Build it Yourself: A Concrete Planter

Make your own planter out of cement, perlite, and peat moss

Here is a fun little project for a rainy day. If you like to play in the dirt, you will love playing in the mud, the mason's term for concrete. But you don't have to be a brick layer to build this planter, all you need is an imagination and a few supplies.

Basic Mixture
3 parts horticultural perlite
3 parts peat moss
2 parts Portland cement

Other Materials Needed
Two cardboard boxes, one smaller than the other
Chicken wire
Dowel rods

Mix the dry ingredients together with enough water to form a cement the consistency of cottage cheese.

Place a cardboard box on your work surface with the opening facing up. Any tape, gouges or flaws in the box will show up on your finished project so be sure the inside of the box is to your liking. A plastic bag liner can add some nice wrinkles to the finished project or try adding a layer of wet leaves in your mold before adding the concrete mix.

To make the bottom of the planter, pour in a 1 inch layer of cement. Cut chicken wire to fit into the box, but 1 inch smaller on all sides. Place it on top of the first layer of cement for reinforcement. Top this with another layer of wet cement. Lightly smooth the surface to make it even.

To create drainage holes, push several wooden dowels about 1/4 inch in diameter into the middle of the cement with spacing of 3 or 4 inches apart. They will be removed later.

Place a smaller box inside the first box upside down on top of the cement. Center a layer of chicken wire between the inside and outside edges of the two boxes. The wire should be one inch shorter than the mold so that it will not poke through the top of the finished trough. Use a flat stick (or a mason's trowel) to fill the mold with cement. Try to keep the wire centered in the cement. Push the stick periodically into the wet cement to tamp it down and to remove air pockets.

Smooth the top edges of the cement or round it over. Cover the mold with a plastic sheet so that it remains moist while the cement sets. Let the mold cure for up to 5 days, but no less than 24 hours. Once the cement is set, rip out the inner box, remove the dowel rods, and tear away the outer cardboard box. Your masterpiece can now be painted or left as is to fill with your favorite plants.