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WasteCap DIY: Reclaimed Wood Planters

Whether you live in a high rise apartment or have sprawling acres in your backyard, succulents are the perfect low-maintenance plant for spaces of any size. Pete Brands, Deconstruction and Salvage Supervisor for WasteCap is here to walk you through how to create the perfect DIY Mother’s Day planter.


Wood selection is important. You’ll want to select a piece of wood with a significant amount of depth. Ideal selections include: old 4 inch x 4 inch posts, 4 inch x 6 inch posts and reclaimed floor joists. We used hand-hewed beams from a barn built in the 1880’s to make these planters during our Johnson Controls Earth Day event.


Now that you’ve selected your log, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Drill press or drill and a 2 inch forstner bit
  • Polyurethane sealer or leftover house paint
  • Paintbrush or old sponge
  • Cactus or succulent soil
  • Succulent of choice – WasteCap recommends succulents of the Sempervivum genus, commonly known as “Hens and Chicks.” These are non-toxic to humans and animals.
  • Sandpaper

Once you’ve assembled your materials, begin by measuring out your planters. Pete recommends cutting your log every six inches, but you can create larger planters depending on the size of your space.

After you’ve measured and cut the length of your individual planters, use the 2 inch forstner bit on a drill press and bore down to a depth of 1.5 to 2 inches. If you don't have a drill press on hand, you can use a normal drill. This is the perfect size to receive the plants. Next, you’ll want to sand down any sharp edges. This not only makes the planter easier to handle, but also creates a more polished look. After sanding, coat the inside of the hole with a polyurethane sealer or house paint using a brush or sponge. This will prevent moisture from seeping into the wood and will elongate the life of your planter. Wait until the sealer/paint has dried before proceeding (approximately 1-3 hours).

Now, take your succulent and using your fingers, gently break up the root clumps so that the plant will be able to soak up adequate water. Place your succulent in its new home with a little soil and your DIY planter is finished.


As mentioned, succulents need minimal attention. Place them in a space that receives approximately six hours of sunlight each day and remember to water them once a week. Succulents don’t need to be watered often, but it’s important to make sure the soil is saturated when you do water them.


If you’re in need of a last minute gift that doesn’t require any work, stop by the WasteCap Warehouse to pick up one of these planters for $12. The WasteCap Salvage Warehouse is open Wednesday – Friday 10 AM – 5 PM and Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM.

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