Tools and Materials Checklist:
□ Tape measure
□ 1”x 8” knot-free lumber (ends, faces & optional shelf)
□ Drill & 3/32” twist bit
□ 1”x 6” No. 2 pine (bottom)
□ Waterproof wood glue
□ Nail set
□ 6d galvanized finishing nails or 2” finishing screws and #1 Phillips screwdriver
□ Circular or table saw (optional)
□ Pair of 6” decorative shelf brackets with screws
□ Plasti-Dip spray or ½-pt. can
□ Rubber sanding block or finishing sander
□ Paint or other finish and brushes
□ Sandpaper (80-, 120- and 220-grit)
□ Planting supplies
Build an Indoor Window Planter
Flower boxes do such a beautiful job of dressing up windows that it’s a shame to limit their use to outdoors. So spruce up any room with this indoor window planter on a counter, a table in front of a window or on decorative brackets that you install just below the window. The container is waterproofed on the inside and will not be exposed to harsh weather conditions, so you can choose a wood and finish to complement or match your interior woodwork. You can even try your hand at a decorative painting technique such as sponging or stenciling. If you plan to paint the planter, build it with any select (knot-free) grade of wood such as pine or poplar. If you prefer a natural finish, consider a fine hardwood such as oak or maple. Normally a planter might have a vertical back but we angled both faces, enabling you to turn the planter 180 degrees so the plants won’t all lean toward the sun.
Step 1. Determine the Dimensions
Your indoor window planter will probably look best if it is as wide as the outside dimension of the window casing and no wider than the interior windowsill. The planter should be at least deep enough and high enough to accommodate a 6-in. diameter flower pot. The size of the design shown (at right), uses 1×8 lumber for the ends and faces and 1×6 lumber for the bottom of the planter.
Step 2. Cut and Mill the Parts
Cut the front, back, and ends from your lumber. You can use a lesser-grade lumber, such as No. 2 pine, for the bottom.
2a. Bottom: If you have a circular saw or table saw, set the bevel adjustment to 5 degrees, and rip (cut with the grain) both edges of the bottom to 5 inches wide (at the widest point). Alternatively, use a plane to bevel a 5-degree angle on the two edges. Cut the bottom 3/4 inch shorter than the length of the faces so it will be recessed 3/8 inch when assembled.
2b. Ends: Rip the 1×8 to 6 inches wide (which corresponds to the height of the ends), then cut the sides at an 85-degree angle to create a 5-in. and a 7-in. base on these two trapezoidal pieces.
2c. Faces: Rip or plane a 5-degree bevel along the bottom edge of each piece.
Step 3. Sand Parts Smooth
Use a rubber sanding block or finishing sander and sand all the pieces smooth; starting with 80-grit, then 120-grit, and finishing with 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand along the length of the boards along with the grain.
Step 4. Assemble the Planter
Brush glue on all edges of the bottom and rest it on 1/2-in. thick spacers. Clamp the two ends onto the bottom and pre-drill 3/32-in. pilot holes for the fasteners. Secure the ends to the bottom with 6d galvanized nails or finishing screws. Glue the front and back edges of the end pieces; similarly clamp and attach the faces to the bottom and the ends. Wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth and touch up with your sander if needed.
Tip: Pre-Drilling Nails
Pre-drilling prevents the fasteners from splitting the wood (especially hardwoods) and makes it a lot easier to accurately drive the nails or finishing screws.
Step 5. Waterproof the Interior
Mask the top edge of the planter and apply Plasti-Dip to the interior surfaces. Plasti-Dip, available in spray cans or as a brush-on liquid, forms a flexible, waterproof membrane when it dries. It is available in yellow, black, red, blue, and clear.
Why Waterproof? The waterproofed interior of the planter means you can put soil directly into it, but not all plants have the same water needs. Setting pots in the planter and filling the gaps with pine bark or similar mulch will also make it easier to change plantings and maintain the planter.
Step 6. Apply a Finish
When the interior dries, reposition the masking tape over the top inside edge and finish the sides and top with any interior paint, stain, or polyurethane finish.
Step 7. Install the Planter under a Window
To mount the planter on shelf brackets or on a shelf supported by brackets, you must install those brackets with screws into solid wall framing. Glue 1/2-in. wood spacers to the bottom at the bracket locations to ensure sturdiness. Locate studs with an electronic stud finder or by a combination of tapping (listening for hollow and solid sounds) and observing the location of any baseboard nails
Tip: Placement of Brackets
If brackets secured to studs would not be symmetrically located, screw a board to the wall and then secure the bracket to the board.
Step 8. Setting Your Plants and Flowers
If you plan to place soil directly into your planter, you must provide drainage. Put at least 1-1/2 inches of crushed stone in the bottom of the planter and cover it with a layer of landscape fabric before you add soil and plants. If you prefer to keep plants in their pots, simply put the pots in the planter and fill around them with sphagnum moss, pine bark, or similar mulch. Set smaller pots on blocks of wood or on some mulch so their tops are even with those of larger plants.
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Build a Water Garden in Your Backyard
If a tropical vacation is not in the budget, consider bringing a bit of paradise to your backyard by constructing a water garden or pond. Whether it be free-form designed and installed to your exact specifications or prefabricated from one of may designs, the result will be an attractive addition your landscape. And, in most cases, it’s a project that can be accomplished in a weekend.
While there is no limit to size, most water gardens take up very little space. A pond can occupy be 8 by 10 feet or twice that size – whichever works for you. It’s important to place it in your existing landscape so that it looks like nature placed in your yard. Best of all, constructing a water garden requires no special skills, but you will need a strong back to remove soil and to import rocks and plants for your new oasis.
A water garden is shallow, requiring less than two feet of excavation – the average depth ranges from 18 to 24 inches. Once dug out, the area is lined with a heavy, vinyl waterproof liner, or a prefabricated plastic pond is placed into the excavated area. Decorative rocks, small stones and coarse gravel can be randomly placed around the pond’s bottom. This also provides an added level of protection for the vinyl liner. The entire area does not need to be covered; just enough to conceal most of the liner and to anchor the plants in position.
Most importantly, a backyard pond does NOT have to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes or other pests. But you need a closed-cycle pump and filtration system to keep the water moving and filtered. A 110-volt outdoor electrical outlet is required and, due to its proximity to the water, it should be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). What the filter doesn’t take care of, your school of debris-eating fish will. When planned and installed properly, your water garden should be virtually maintenance-free.
Tools & Material Checklist:
Garden hose or rope
Shovel, other digging tools
Paving or stone
Pond liner (flexible rubber or hard shell)
Pump, filter, and heater (optional)
Large and small stones, decorative rocks and corse gravel
Mortar: 3 parts sand and 1 part cement
110-Volt outdoor electrical outlet
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
Flexible plastic tube
Fish, aquatic plants and greenery for edges
Step 1. Outline Shape and Remove Sod
Locate pond in a level area, preferably at the lowest point in the yard and with mixed sun and shade. Use a garden hose or rope to outline the perimeter of your pond. Use the soil that is removed to build up the area and serve as a landscape berm.
Step 2. Excavate
If using a hard-shell liner, dig out the center to full depth and then slope sides. With a rubber or reinforced PVC flexible liner, you can create a shelf for plants around the perimeter of the pond. Do this by excavating the entire area to plant-shelf depth (typically 6 to 12 inches) then dig deeper (18 to 24 inches) in the remaining area.
Step 3. Level and Smooth Area
Remove all rocks and roots. Line the leveled horizontal surfaces with an inch or two of wet sand. If using a flexible liner, also cushion the walls with long-lasting polyester lining.
Step 4. Install Liner
Drop in hard-shell liner, or drape a sun-warmed rubber liner into the hole so it overlaps at least a foot on all sides. Weight the edges with large stones. As you fill the hard shell with water, backfill with sand between the shell and the earth. As you fill the liner with water, smooth out large wrinkles in a fabric liner and trim off excess for a 4- to 6-inch overlap.
Step 5. Landscape the Edge
To disguise the shell’s hard edge or to cover the exposed liner, landscape the perimeter with stones and plants. For a formal edging, called coping, set paving stones in a bed of mortar (3 parts sand, 1 part cement). For a natural look, set stones on plant shelves; cover the liner with gravel and mulch for plants, or soil for sod.
Step 6. Add Plants and Stock Pond
Visit your local pet shop for help in selecting to correct types of scavenger fish.
Step 7. Plants and Greenery
Among the important elements to constructing a successful pond are the plants around its edges. In addition to providing color and helping to create a natural setting, they provide an environment that is attractive to frogs, turtles and birds. If they don’t show up on their own, they can be imported. They are a must to keep your school of scavenging fish company.
The proper plants also help the water from becoming stagnant by keeping it properly oxygenated, fresh and clear. The water lily, water hyacinth and lotus are the most popular flowering aquatic plants. For shallow water along the perimeter, consider suning arrowhead, pennywort, water hawthorne or sweet flag.
You should also have underwater oxygenator plants such as anarcharis or caboma. Figure about two bunches for each square yard of the pond’s water surface. Each of these plants does best when placed at different depths, therefore the base of the pond should be sloped or stair-stepped to the shore to facilitate planting.
Finally, a word about safety… A youngster can drown in two feet of water. Therefore, you’ll want to keep the safety of children in mind as you design and build your backyard oasis.