If you’re looking for a DIY project that’s not hard, and can pretty up any yard space, here’s something that might do the trick.

A simple garden box can be built in a matter of hours, is easy to maintain, and–best of all for many of us–doesn’t require a lot of space. I put this planter against a drab fence in the rear yard, and just finished planting some flowers:

Garden Box

This garden box is actually based on my original planter box plans that I designed a few years back. You can find those plans here.

I decided to build a second planter, and instead of veggies (tomatoes are my absolute favorite!) I planted ornate flowers in an attempt to beautify a drab space next to a fence in the backyard.

The only difference in the design from the original planter box is I didn’t need legs. The new garden planter sits right on the ground, raised slightly using some shims and wood blocks to allow for breathing and proper soil drainage.

Because I live in Northern California, the soil tends to be very clay-like. Clumpy, damp. Not so plant friendly. What I like about this garden box is that I can fill it up with healthy nutrients and potting soil and know that my garden will have the best opportunity to do well. That’s absolutely not the case when I plant directly into the ground.


If you’re looking to do the same, here’s the garden box design plans. You can build it with or without the legs. Those that prefer to garden at waist height may want to add the legs. Once you’ve brought together all the materials (I include a list of what you need in my plans) this garden/planter box should only take a few hours to build (a helpful friend, or spouse helps a lot!).

So now I’ve got 2 California style planter boxes.

The first is the original planter box that I use as a veggie garden along a tight space along the sideyard.

And this new one is purely ornamental. Its sole purpose is to provide a home for happy and healthy flowers that beautify the space. My original mantra was “Build it. Grow it. Taste it.” – I guess if you plant flowers, it should be “Build it. Grow it. Watch it.” Hmm, not really as catchy is it?

Maybe I’ll build a third soon. I admit: this garden hobby does can get kind of addictive.

My California Planter Box – also makes for a nice lounger? This was me a few years back after I finished building it. I’ve made the plans available for download so you can build the exact same planter.

All my original suggestions apply: spread a layer of lava rock along the bottom to allow for drainage, don’t use any artificially treated woods, use quality potting soil and nutrients, consider using egg shells and coffee grinds to enhance, and add a micro-irrigation system to ensure your plants don’t go dry. I provide lots more details on all these topic in my original veggie garden planter series which you might want to check out!


Planter box DIY plans and photos:

Video updates:

Your updates, from around the world (email me loni@starkinsider.com, or Twitter@lonistark):

For those that missed it, here’s one of my more popular videos, where I share some simple planting tips for your new container garden.

WATCH: Urban Gardening Planting Tips

IN PHOTOS: Loni’s California Garden Box

Here’s more photos of the Garden Box. So far I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.

You can download the plans and build your own. Use it for a veggie garden, or, as I’m doing here, accent the yard with a flower box.


DIY Project - Build a Garden Planter




Others too have used my plans to build planter boxes. It’s incredible when I get emails with photos, they look just like my planter!

Here’s some amazing photos sent in by Jeff who built a veggie planter with the able assistance of his super cute 4-year-old son. And, yes, these are so professional that they look like stock photos! But they are actual photos from actual gardeners who have downloaded my plans and put them to work in the garden:



If you do decide to plant tomatoes, and other veggies in the planter box, here’s one of my favorite recipes, a Caprese Salad. Watch this video if you want to see a fun version of an Italian classic, thanks to some help from Mia Sebastiani:

Happy gardening! Let me know any questions. I’ve been working on my container garden now for five years. In addition to the two variations of the original planter design I’ve experimented with all sorts of interesting herbs, veggies, and plants over the years. Half the fun is trying something new every year. Seeing your garden bloom beautifully and produce lush flowers and wonderful, fresh vegetables is a real treat.

Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.