Let the summer projects begin!! Now that summer is in full swing here in Idaho and we’ve officially been in our house for a year, we’ve started tackling some of the outdoor projects that we’ve been talking about for months. Are the projects never ending at your place too? There’s always some sort of brainstorming going on around here.



One of the items on our list for this year was building a couple of planter boxes for our backyard. We have a lot — no, a TON — of rock along our fence and a lot of vinyl fencing so to break it up and to add a little privacy we decided planter boxes would help eliminate some of the eye sores in our backyard.

Here’s the supplies we use and how we did it:

Wood (see below)
Landscape Fabric
Paint Brush
Sprinkler System parts (optional)
Paver Base Sand
River Rock
Top Soil
Staple Gun & Staples


Our little helpers!

To start, we decided how wide and how tall we wanted the planters to be. We made them fairly big in order to fill up the space along our fence. This will vary depending on the size you’re going for. To build both planters, we bought 16 – 4x6x8 cedar,  2 – 2x4x8 dry redwood, 2 – 4x4x8 douglas fir posts, 4 – 1x4x8 cedar board and 1 – 1x4x10 cedar board.


Then we cut all the wood based on the final dimensions we decided on. Our planters ended up being 5′ 6″ x 32″. We had the front and back boards overlapping the side boards so we made sure we cut them accordingly.


Next, we started assembling all the pieces together. This took a decent amount of time, especially since we were making two of them.

Olympic Semi Transparent Stain

Once they were assembled, we started staining (I didn’t take any pictures of this step because I was doing it myself and didn’t have enough hands to paint and take pictures at the same time).  The stain we bought was Olympic’s semi-transparent stain from Lowes. After reading a little bit more about this type of stain (see Olympic’s FAQ) we learned that one coat is sufficient and for good reason. Here’s why:

Applying a stain moisturizes wood in a way that allows for the wood to soak in freshly applied layers. So, if you apply a second (unnecessary) coat of deck stain to a wood staining project that is already adequately covered, you risk creating a tacky surface that is prone to early peeling because the second coat is not penetrating the wood surface. It is simply layering on top of the first coat of stain. -~Olympic website~

As we began staining we were a little nervous about the color. It seemed more of a solid color than transparent but don’t let it scare you. It’s a big contrast from the unstained wood vs. the stained wood! Once it’s all stained it looks great and not as orange as we originally thought.

Here’s a good guide for stains that I thought was helpful:


We definitely wanted the wood to have more protection since we knew it would be seeing a lot of sun so that’s why we went with semi-transparent stain.

While the stain was drying (which we waited about 24 hours before we moved them), we worked on leveling the ground out.

Landscape Fabric

We did this by first moving all the rock and laying down the landscape fabric.

Paver Base Sand

Then we poured the paver sand onto the fabric and spread it out with the back of a rake.


After that we layered it with the river rock.

Now it was time to place the boxes and make sure they were level as well. This was a pretty easy step. We used our leveler to make sure they were right where they needed to be. Once this was done, we lined the insides with the landscape fabric using the staple gun and staples. We did this to give the wood a little more added protection from the elements and to keep the dirt from falling through the cracks. Keep in mind we didn’t build a bottom for the planters. We kept it open and flush to the ground so it was easy to get in and staple the fabric up on the sides.

Now it was time to fill them up and get them ready for the plants. Because our planters were much bigger than you’d probably normally see, we layered some of the bigger rocks we moved earlier onto the river rock. This also allows for better drainage. We then filled each planter with top soil. We actually bought bags of top soil however, after pricing it we should have had just bought a yard of it and had it delivered. It would have been A LOT cheaper.

We also ran some irrigation through the planters so we wouldn’t have to be watering all the time. Okay, so truthfully, my husband took care of the irrigation portion. Always a team effort around here! 🙂 He basically dug through to the closest sprinkler head and then ran some sprinkler tubing from the head to the planters. This isn’t a necessary step but one that will surely make it more convenient and efficient during the summer months.


And lastly, but certainly not least, we planted the flowers and grass. Because we wanted to add privacy to our backyard, we chose Karl Foerster for the grass (it can get up to 6′ tall). We also planted some Stella Daylilies (we were told they are about the only perennials that bloom most of the summer) and then annuals — colorful Impatiens. We then finished off the project by adding a bag of bark to each planter as well.


We LOVE how they turned out and how it completely changed the look of our backyard. It’s so nice to look out our back window and see more than just a bunch of rock.  Our outdoor space is coming together (slowly but surely) and the patio has a lot more color and life now that we’ve added the planter boxes. I think it’s a definite win for us! What do you think?