- Ideas & How-Tos
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Have a seat while your garden rises to new heights. Suspended above this bench are three planters made from pipes to keep flowers away from curious critters, and spruce up a wall of your home.
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This planter is designed to rest on a patio and be secured to the house to prevent tipping. If you’d like to make it freestanding, review the Project Diagram, Drawing 1 for details on securing the structure in the ground. The hanging planters are made from a few pieces of vent pipe, and the planter is built from simple boards joined with screws.
Cut pressure treated 4 x 4s for the two posts (A) and legs (B) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram and Cutting List). Apply a semi-transparent deck stain to the posts and allow the stain to dry. For a planter in which the posts and legs will be set into the ground, cut both posts and legs an additional 20 inches longer (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). As you cut each part, use a piece of 150-grit sandpaper to remove any sharp edges.
From cedar boards, cut the cap (C) and the rails (D, E, F, and G) to length. Screw the cap to the top of the posts. The ends of the cap are aligned even with the outside face of the 4 x 4s (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
Working from the top, first screw the narrow back rails (D) and then the wide back rails (E) to the posts. The top edge of the uppermost rail is flush with the top of the cap and extends 1 inch past each post. Check the 1-inch overhang of the remaining rails, adjusting the post as you install each rail to ensure the posts are parallel (Photo 1).
Flip the back assembly over and add the narrow front rails (F) and wide front rails (G). Install the cable rail (H) between the legs to secure the bottom ends of the cables holding the planters. Install the 1-1/2-in-thick second rail from the bottom (D) for attaching the seat slats.
Retrieve the legs (B) and the remaining narrow rails (F) and screw together the front assembly (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Cut the shelf connectors (I) and seat connectors (J) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram and Cutting List). Clamp the shelf connectors between the post and leg assemblies to hold the two assemblies together (Photo 2). Then attach the seat connectors with screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). By standing the shelf connectors on edge there is more clamping surface to keep the front and back assembly upright while you attach the seat parts.
After the seat connectors are installed, unclamp the shelf connectors one at a time, rotate them against the top edges of the lower rails, and attach with screws. After the shelf and seat connectors are in installed, the bench will stand on its own.
Cut the shelf slats (K), narrow slats (L), narrow seat slats (M), and seat slats (N) to length. Drill and screw the wide slats (K) to the bottom rails of the front and back assemblies (Project Diagram, Drawing 5) 7-1/2 inches from the 4 x 4s with the back ends of the slats even with the back face of the back rail (D). When installing the shelf boards, tip the drill to clear the rail above when drilling and driving the screws (Photo 3).
With the wide shelf slats installed, secure the five middle narrow shelf slats between them. Center the middle narrow slat and then space the remaining parts with a 3/4-inch-thick scrap (Photo 4). Add three narrow slats on each side of the wide slats.
Install the center five narrow seat slats to the bench so they’re aligned with the narrow shelf slats below (Project Diagram, Drawing 6). Wait to install the remaining slats until after you attach the cables and hanging planters.
Drill centered 1/4-inch holes about 3 inches in from both ends of the duct pipe for drainage. Attach two 6-inch-diameter duct caps to each end of one half of a 6-inch galvanized duct pipe (Photo 5; Project Diagram, Drawing 7) using hex-head sheet-metal screws. Use gloves to protect your hands from any sharp edges when you’re handling the metal.
When twisting screws into metal, hex-head screws work best. Use a nut driver sized to fit the screw to reduce damaging the screw head with the driver bit.
Wipe the metal parts with mineral spirits to remove any oil residue. Apply aerosol primer and two coats of paint following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Drill 1/4-inch pilot holes centered in the width of the cap (C) and hook rail (H) (Project Diagram, Drawing 7) and twist the screw eyes into the holes. A pair of pliers will help spin the screw eyes once they become difficult to turn by hand.
When the paint dries drill 1/4-inch holes through both ends at the top and bottom of the planters to feed the cable through.
Cut two sections of 3/16-inch wire rope to 96 inches long. Secure the cable to the top screw eye by threading the cable through the screw eye and clamping the ends together with a cable clamp (Photo 3). A wrench will draw the clamps tight.
Place painter’s tape 8 inches down from the cross rails (D) and (G). Thread the cable through the first planter and add the cable clamps under the planter so the planter hangs even with the tape (Photo 8). Tighten the clamps to support the planter. Repeat for the two remaining planters, spacing them 8 inches apart.
Thread the bottom end of a cable through a bottom screw eye, pull tight with pliers, and tighten the bottom cable clamp (Photo 9). Repeat for the other cable.
Install the wide seat slats (N) and remaining narrow seat slats (M) (Project Diagram, Drawing 6).
Apply a clear preservative to the cedar parts to maximize the life of your planter. When the finish dries, it’s time for the final installation.
Because of its height, the planter can tip forward if a child climbs on it. For safety, install the planter on a solid surface next to a fence or house and secure with a spacer block and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 1a). Cut a spacer (O) and screw it to your house. Then secure the planter to the spacer.
For a freestanding installation, the posts need to be planted in the ground. Position the planter where you want and mark the ground where the holes need to be dug. After checking for buried utilities, dig 8-inch-diameter holes 24 inches deep, and add approximately 4 inches of crushed gravel to the bottoms of the holes for drainage.
Set the planter in the holes and add just a bit more gravel. Use a level to check the installation and lift the planter slightly to adjust for level. The rock will slip under the post to bring it to the final position.
Once the structure is level, mix and pour concrete in the holes and allow the concrete to cure. Add potting mix and your favorite flowers to the planters and watch your summer bloom.