Gardening Tips: Build a Three-Level Planter

This three-tiered planter is a great way to grow an abundance of herbs in a small space.


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Alison Witt, a gardener and building whiz at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, designed this compact three-level, easy-to-make herb planter. Witt chose cedar for the planter because it is weather resistant. The finished planter measures about 3 by 3 feet and is about 2 feet high. It provides nine planting areas for a total planting area of 9 square feet. Materials should cost less than $50.

• 4 lengths of cedar, 341/2 x 8 x 2 inches, for the lower frame
• 4 lengths of cedar, 24 x 8 x 2 inches, for the middle frame
• 4 lengths cedar, 161/2 x 8 x 2 inches, for the top frame
• 24 galvanized deck screws, 3 inches long
• Electric drill with 1/8 inch bit

1. For each frame, stand two boards on edge at right angles to each other. Butt the end of the left-hand board against the side of the right-hand board, leaving no overhang (Figure 1). Drill two 3-inch pilot holes through the right-hand board and into the left-hand board. Screw the boards together. Align the end of a third board against the side of the free end of the left-hand board (it becomes the new right-hand board) and fasten. Attach the fourth board in the same way. Screw the fourth board to the first board (the original right-hand board).
2. Prepare a level site for the planter. Remove any turf from the area and turn over the soil to a depth of a foot. Pulverize the clods and work in compost. Rake the soil smooth and firm it lightly. Set the lower frame on the prepared soil.
3. Fill the frame to the top with 3 parts soilless mix blended with one part compost. Firm it, water to settle the planting mix, add more mix to fill the frame, and firm again.
4. Place the middle frame diagonally on the lower frame. Fill it with planting mix as for the lower frame.
5. Place the top frame diagonally on the middle frame and fill with planting mix as for the two other frames.
6. Pot up each pocket with herbs.

To make your planter sturdier

Include another step before filling the first frame with planting mix. Drive a 20-inch length of rebar into the ground just inside each corner of the lower frame so that its top is flush with the top of the wood. You may also install 28-inch-long pieces of rebar in the middle frame and 36-inch-long pieces in the top frame.

Read the original article, Gardening Tips: Small Space Herb Gardening Ideas

 Maureen Heffernan just completed a new herb garden as part of the Hershey’s Children’s Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.