Monday, July 31, 2017

21 Do It Yourself: Window Planter Box

Every summer I swear that we are going to focus on making some major changes to the exterior of our home, and then every summer flies by and boom, we are buried in multiple feet of snow again. It was time to do something outdoors, and a sad little garage window was calling our names. Plus, we always like to do small things that make a big difference, and today's project is definitely one of those!

We have a small window on the side of our garage that I rarely think about, however, I really should give it more attention because it is street facing.

As much as it always pains me to show our embarrassing before photos, I feel it is necessary in a world of picture perfect online photo streams. So there you go. Overgrown yard, neglected window, Craigslist items piled in the garage...

There were two goals for this little window; the first was to add shutters that match the ones installed on the front of our home, and the second was to install a bulkier planter box filled with more blooms.

We no longer had the specific details on the shutters that were installed when we built 16 years ago, so I searched around online and found some that were almost identical on this website here. After measuring the garage window, I placed an order for two gray shutters that were a total of $35.00, and held my breath until they arrived.

In the meantime, I also began looking for window planter boxes that were as wide as the window and had some sort of decorative detailing. Sticker shock set in and I knew we could whip some up on our own vs. buying new and custom. We decided to start with this garage window, and if we liked the outcome we would also eventually build more for the front of our house as well.

Window measurements in hand (our window is 48" wide), we went to our local home improvement store to look at wood options. Knowing we would ultimately be painting the wood with exterior grade paint, we decided on some inexpensive 1" x 8" x 8' common boards. Two to be exact. We also purchased some decorative trim pieces, this one for the top of the box and this for the bottom and corners.

To create the box, we built a simple "u" shape that we capped on each end.

We cut the two common boards with our sliding miter saw and nailed them together using our brad nailer and some 1 3/8" nails. We also used wood glue to be sure everything was nice and secure.

We get a lot of questions about the type of compressor we use with our brad nailer and it is just a small 2-gallon option that we purchased quite a few years ago. Ryobi now offers a cordless/compressor-less brad nailer that we are considering, but in the meantime, we are OK toting this small compressor around as we work on our home projects.

Once the box frame was built, we moved on to trimming it out with some decorative moulding.

Measure and mark...



Nail (this time with 5/8" nails)...

Same steps were followed for the corner trim and some lattice trim we added as a strip down the front center.

Once everything was assembled, we caulked all of the holes and edges. We did this twice in spots to be sure everything was sealed and moisture resistant.

After sanding it down smooth, I gave the window box three coats of exterior paint in Behr's Marquee Ultra Pure White.

To mount the planter box below the window I used some brackets found at Home Depot. They came in a black finish so I spray painted them white so they would disappear under the box.

Above you can see that I also added a couple of decorative corbels to the bottom of the planter. I had been saving these specifically for this project from our previous laundry room shelves. We had a total of six corbels which means we can still do two more window boxes on the front of our house to match. I painted the corbels in the exterior white paint and we affixed them to the bottom with some screws. They are not for structure, just for looks.

My biggest concern was drainage when we water or there is rain, so we did two things. First, we drilled small drainage holes in the bottom of the planter near the front half. Secondly, we mounted the box angled in a way that the water would drain away vs. toward the house and down the siding. However, the angle is minimal enough that it isn't noticeable unless you are very up close and personal.

Although, up close and personal is just what I want to be! I absolutely love the planter box and all of the bright and colorful blooms now growing inside.

The shutters ended up matching almost perfectly; there are some very slight and minimal differences but no one would ever notice unless they were held side by side, and even then the variations would be challenging to spot. And considering this is on a completely different side of the house, that will never happen. I couldn't be more thrilled that we were able to find something so inexpensive to help add some oomph to the little window.

The tools and paint were items we had on hand, as were the corbels, so the window box was the cost of the wood ($10) and some detail trim ($12) and the mounting brackets ($10). For under $70 we were able to add shutters and a large decorative flower box! Two small changes that really took this side of the house to a new level. It is almost good enough to distract from the fence that needs staining nearby. Almost...

To be fair, removing the broken screen, washing the windows and mowing were also helpful updates.

So many more projects like this that I would love to get crossed off of our list this summer, including building two more of these guys. Fingers crossed we still have a few more months left before the frost starts covering the ground again.


  1. Jen!

    I love this! So pretty!!!


  2. Oh my goodness, how pretty! The color of flowers you chose are lovely as well. Thanks for including such great photo instructions!

    ~ Emily from So Sunny Day

  3. As to attaching the box to your house, it appears from the photos that you have regular vinyl siding. Is this correct and did that make it more difficult to attach to the house using the product you purchased? I have been nervous about how one attaches boxes with vinyl siding.

    1. That's correct, we have vinyl siding. However, it wasn't difficult to install the brackets as there was enough wood backing surrounding the window for us to drill into and to secure the brackets.

    2. Oh! And I wanted to add that if the brackets don't seem to offer enough support, you could also try installing a french cleat which can be secured into studs and offer much more support. Best of luck Linda!

    3. The french cleat is a great idea - that's totally how I'll hang mine. Thanks! xx

  4. Great DIY project! It's so satisfying when you can make something on your own.

  5. Did you use a liner on the inside of the box?

    1. I opted not to for the remainder of this year, but may next year. I used some coconut fiber liners in other planters and pots and have found that my plants do much better with those. :) And of course, the liners will also better protect the new planter.

  6. This is gorgeous! So doing this!

    x Silje

  7. Is the wood you used pressure treated? Such a fantastic result! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Its gorgeous and such a good tutorial too. I wanted to add a suggestion - at the end of the season you might want to coat it with outdoor-rated polyurethane to add extra protection.especially on the inside and the drain holes. I did this with dome planters I built and they're lasting much better than the ones I didn't use sealant on.

    1. Thanks so much for the tip, Jane! I was considering an outdoor grade poly, but worried about yellowing and have had pretty good luck with this specific outdoor paint holding up for a few years at a time. I suppose if I only did it to the interior, the yellowing wouldn't show anyway so I will definitely add that step this fall. :)

  9. I I love these! How did you attach them to the siding? I want to recreate these shutters and boxes on our house too, but worry about drilling into siding.

    1. Hi Lauren! We decided to drill into our siding to install the brackets and shutters. The previous planter box brackets had also been drilled in, so we utilized the same holes. I personally have no intention of ever removing the flower boxes, and if so, I would ultimately replace them with new ones because they really make such a nice difference to the exterior of our home. :) I do believe there are some specially designed hooks made for vinyl siding that you may also be able to use, but I can't personally speak to how well they work.

  10. This project turned out beautiful! I absolutely love the idea to add shutters to the sides of the window. I'm not this handy but this is great inspiration!

  11. Such a simple update that makes a huge difference! Thanks for the tutorial, Jen!

  12. How deep did you make the window box?

  13. Beautiful planter. How did you cut the 90 degree angle mounding for the bottom corners of the box?

  14. Hi, very nice project. Vould you share the measures of the box?


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