“Hey lady, you know you can buy those, right?” Those were the words out of the mouth of the guy who was loading the wood into my trunk at the lumberyard. He asked me what I was doing with the boards and I told him, I was building some windowboxes.

Yes.  Yes, I know you can buy them.  But I wanted to build some that were exactly like the ones I had because they fit my windows perfectly, were deep enough to fit big plants and just had a custom look. They came with the house and have now rotted to the point that they could probably be used as sawdust pillow filling.  So I was going to make some exactly the same.

So, yes, even though I could buy some, I was going to make my window boxes because they’re ridiculously easy to make and I wanted them to be exactly like the ones I had before.  Stupid lumberyard kid.  Pfttt.  Youth.

Because I wanted these window boxes to last a bit better than the other ones did, I also bought a set of plastic window boxes that I could fit inside the new wood planters. That way they’d retain water a bit better and the wood boxes wouldn’t rot out because there wouldn’t be any wet soil against them.  The plastic boxes also make my new endeavour a bit easier.  Growing all the flowers that go into my windowboxes.

Last year one of my sisters went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. It’s one of the most spectacular public gardens in the world.  While she was there she bought me a few packets of seeds, one of which was called the Butchart Gardens Windowbox seeds.  So in April I planted everything that was in the package including Poorman’s Orchid, Nasturtium, Marigolds, Lobelia and Alyssum.

Once they were big enough, I transplanted them all into my plastic windowboxes and put them under lights in my basement.

They’ve been ready to hang for a few weeks now but I haven’t been ready to hang them. Because I hadn’t built their new custom window boxes.  It’s common knowledge that flowers can give the stink eye.  They’ve been giving me the stink eye.

So I built my planter boxes.   Wanna know how to build planter boxes?

Cut 2 long pieces of wood and 2 shorter pieces of wood and screw them together.  You’ve just build a planter box.  Good job.

Need photos?   No problem. I’ve got you covered.

Materials for 2 basic 3′ long windowboxes.

4, 6′ long fence boards. (spruce or pine)

bag of 2″ screws


Outdoor wood glue


  1. Cut all your 6′ boards in half.  You’ll end up with 12, 3′ long pieces.



2.  Add wood glue to edges of two boards.


3.  Press 2 glued boards (which will be the front and back of the planter) up to edge of 3rd board (which is the base).  You are forming the box now.



4.  Drill holes around box edges for screws. (you do this so the wood doesn’t split when you screw it)



5. Insert your screws into pre-drilled holes.




6. Admire.



You can see how the ends butt together in the above photo.  Yeah, that one. The one right up there.



7.  Because of the way you’ve built the box the width will be the the exact width of a board.  Take one of your 3′ cut boards and mark the top of your box.  This is the cutline for your 2 sides.  Cut board at line.  You need one for each end, so do this twice.



8. Add glue to the sides and bottom of your small side boards.  Then stick them in.  And smile like a maniac because you’ve almost built a window box.  Once glue is partially set, pre-drill and screw the sides in place like you did earlier.



9. Drill drainage holes into the bottom.  I used a 3/4 inch spade bit.

You’re done.  For real.  You can either leave the natural if you’d like them to rot away to nothing in a couple of years or you can paint, stain or finish them however else you’d like.



You can shape your window boxes, perfectly rectangular like I did, or you can bring the shorter, side pieces in quite a l bit to create a recess making your window box slightly more elegant.



See how you can see my plastic planters because the size I needed only came in black?  Those will be covered up in a week or so once the plants grow.  So no problem.  Who am I kidding? It’s driving me nuts.  But I’m going to abide by my “wait a week” rule.

I was happy with my window boxes.  I deviated a little bit from how the original ones were built by making them perfect rectangles, but that’s how I wanted them.  You know.  Custom.  Like my original ones.  Or like the ones I saw at my mother’s house 2 days ago, which were exactly like the custom ones that came with my house.  Which she bought a few  years ago … at the lumberyard that the stupid … pftttt …. lumberyard kid works at.

Uh huh.



  1. Lori says:

    So, coming in a few years late with my comment, but I’m considering building (really long) MUST BE custom window boxes and using one of those water proof spray sealants on the interior of the box (similar to the infomercial stuff) and then just drilling the holes through that too for drainage. Just a thought.

  2. I love these! I hate when you can’t find the perfect thing you are looking for. But it’s always nice when you have the skills and knowledge to be able to just do it yourself. Thanks for sharing :D

  3. clickercricket says:

    lovely photo shoot. for those who like natural wood and non carcinogenic wood protection…a coat of linseed oil works great. this is great for applying to wooden tool handles every year too. i love paint to color coordinate…but so close to water…well, “marine paint”…

  4. Julie says:

    I make the pffft noise as well. Always from the right side of my mouth. I do it so much my children imitate me making the pffft noise.

  5. Lavues says:

    It looked so lovely with fresh plants, this is amazing!

  6. Cathy McCoy says:

    Love the boxes, Karen! I would also like to put these up on my brick house, but I’m not sure how to go about hanging the brackets on brick. Can you include that in a blog sometime?

  7. Karol says:

    Maniacal smiles suit you well.

  8. Bonnie G. says:

    You are so handy – good job! The flowers look very lush and pretty. Nasturtiums are edible so do you use them? I have heard that they taste peppery.

  9. suswhit says:

    Those brackets with the flower medallions are sweet! And I’m super impressed that you grew those flowers from seed. Well done, you!! When I try that I end up with stem rot and/or spindly lame plants.

    • Karen says:

      Stem rot = damping off (which means too much dampness on the surface of the soil. Either water from the bottom, put a fan in the room, or both) Spindly/lame = not enough light or lights too far away from seedlings. The light should be just a few inches away from the tops of the plants. :) `karen!

  10. Kristine says:

    If one were to drill into brick for the brackets, is it better to put it in the brick for strength or the mortar so the brick doesn’t chip?
    On a separate note, your fence makes me swoon.

  11. Mary W says:

    Several cats hang out on my porch – they used the planters as litter boxes. So a window box would just give me an up close and personal view of their litter life. And spiders. We are filled with black widows – they never come in, but patrol the entire house under the lap siding. So window boxes are not for me. However, yours are gorgeous and I always wanted some since I was a kid. Your flowers are just beautiful and as always – great project and instructions. Thanks

  12. Darlene says:

    The plants look so full and healthy from just being grown from seeds! Wish I would have done that instead of buying ones already grown at the garden centre. Hoping you could tell me the colour you used to paint the window boxes?? Thanks!

  13. Flash says:

    nice job.. glad you have photos :)

  14. Cred says:

    Btw- did you check dollarama for plastic window box (inserts in this case)? I had bought some for growing some indoor mesclun and spinach over winter- I bought double for each set up, one I drilled holes for drainage and and nested it inside the 2nd planter as drip tray. Brilliant, I thought (big fail, btw)
    They were short but fit perfectly in the rack i put in front of the window to grow them. But come fair weather, I noticed that dollarama had them in different sizes and colours- dark gray, clay and taupe (very similar to your stain colour). The longer ones they have may fit your boxes- that is, if you still care enough in a week ;)

  15. Rick says:

    So, I’m not the only one that laughed a little when I read that 4 – 6′ boards cut in half give you twelve…? ? It doesn’t create any issues with your build, just confirms the stats that lots of people have problems dealing with fractions! ? Carry on though as I enjoy reading your posts and also you’re humour too.

    • Karen says:

      it’s not so much the simple fractions as the not so simple life, lol. look. i don’t even have time to capitalize let alone proof read. ;) ~ karen!

  16. Meredith says:

    The brackets were probably already attached to your house right? None the less can you share any information about attaching the boxes to the house? This is the scariest part for me.

  17. Christina Burke says:

    So, cut 4 boards in half & you get 12 boards? Magic! :-)

  18. Isabella Wigrenini says:

    Good advise. Thanks Andrea. I want taller, longer boxes on the ground over gravel pack for our driveway. So maybe 7 or 8 ft long and two feet high. Two of them. I’ve been thinking of lining them with heavy black plastic, like they use in landscaping or for pools. Do you guys think that would work to slow wood rot?

    • Karen says:

      Wood will rot kind of no matter what Isabella. There’s no way to stop it because even just rain getting in, between the black plastic (or the plastic planters) will sit there, be held in by the plastic and eventually rot. But the black plastic should work and it should slow down the rot. ~ karen!

  19. Isabella Wigrenini says:

    Nice job. I could do this IF I knew how to saw the 6 footers in half. Did you use a table saw? Hand saw? Chisel? Kidding. Really, I don’t know. Would the lumber yard cut them for me? Free?
    My husband could do it easily and quickly but his priorities are different so it might take four years . If I want it done, I do it. Or wait.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Isabella. Most lumberyards will do at least 2 cuts for you for free. Some even more. I used a miter saw but you could also easily use a skill saw. ~ karen!

      • Isabella Wigrenini says:

        Thanks. Karen when you saw it with the miter saw do you clamp it down to keep it still?

        • Karen says:

          Hi Isabella. No, you don’t need to clamp anything down if you’re using a mitre saw. It’s a whole big thing. If you’re using a skill saw (circular saw) which is handheld, you can clamp the wood. Just draw a pencil line for where the cut is, clamp the wood to a workbench or sturdy table and saw away. :) ~ karen!

    • Andrea says:

      The store could probably cut them for you, they usually charge a dollar a cut, but it will be done! Write all the measurements down and draw a diagram be fore you go so you can explain it to them before cutting.

  20. mbaker says:


    I don’t know if it’s available in Canada, but in the US we have something called green-treat wood. It’s wood that’s been chemically treated (in something green, that unfortunately gives your wood a green tinge) that makes it water-resistant. It’s not that it will never rot, but it should give you an extended life. I have two raised beds made with the stuff that have lasted 5 years (and going strong) despite being out in rain/snow 365 days a year with wet soil against them.

    There are two catches with it, though. The first is that it’s green tinged and you can’t paint it for a year since it has to weather and dry. The second is that it costs a bit more, but it could be less if you think about building a new box to replace the old box every 4 or so years.

    • Karen says:

      Hey M. Yes, we have it. It’s pressure treated wood. But you can now get it in brown (instead of the green tinge) which also has the added bonus of having less carcinogens. ~ karen!

  21. Bonnie says:

    Inspirational. I can see the flowers are going to fill in and flood that planter in no time. (..easily a week) Beautiful job nurturing the seeds, those plants will be glorgeous! The wood looks creamy and fresh- and will also ‘weather in’ nicely I bet.
    My morning tea is always better when I dig into one of your emails.
    And, this one I am going to try. I have a balcony, and plan to have only tall grasses growing straight across the front. It will certainly take a custom build to make it fit perfectly. Thanks!

  22. Cheryl Hilliker says:

    I didn’t even notice the black liner til you mentioned it, and I “Looked”!! Awesome job! Thanks for the DIY idea. Love all your ideas and your posts. Thanks so much.

  23. Magali says:

    “You know they make lawn mowers that run on electricity or gas nowadays” is what one man in my neighbourhood said to me when he saw me with my manual lawnmower. After I told him that I liked the exercise and him and his dog kept standing there staring at me, I finally said that it was better for the environment. It didn’t make him stop judging but it made him stop staring!

  24. Jules says:

    Karen, you could always add a trim around the top to hide the black plastic if it still drives you nuts – even more custom made :)

  25. Maureen Locke says:

    Thanks Karen… looks super easy. I might even try it. Where did you get those amazing brackets?? I love them. :)

  26. Marna says:

    Awesome! Love the iron brackets too!

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Looks great!…I think the black inserts look fine…

  28. Jane says:

    Karen, you did read the reviews on the store bought window boxes, right?

    Seems the front has a nasty tendency to fall off.
    So does the back.
    And both the left and right side.
    No complaints about the bottom though, so there’s that.

  29. Jules says:

    The black planter matches the brackets ;)

  30. Lisa says:

    Love pic number 8…grinning like a fabulous maniac. Do you eat the nasturtiums? Not just the flowers but the joy of sucking the sweetness out of them on a hot summers day…fond memory of childhood. Well, alright not just childhood.

    • Lauren says:

      Until an earwig crawls out of the long end of the blossom onto your plate. That can change one’s entire perspective on eating flowers. They are delicious though!
      (nasturtiums, not earwigs)

      • Lisa says:

        Think of the protein! Going to check mine more carefully now. Ditto on preferring the nasturtiums. :-)

  31. Kathleen says:

    Good job! Love the brackets for the window boxes!

  32. Sandi Remedios says:

    I love Buchart Gardens and would love to go back. Your window boxes are da bomb!
    Anyone can “buy” a window box. It takes a special person to “build” a window box.
    Like you.

  33. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Yes. Wait a week. They’ll be just FINE!

  34. Anne Riemer says:

    I have the exact same boxes only painted white. Hubby built them and I bought the plastic ones to insert, makes them easier to manage, put the wooden ones in place and plop the insert in.

  35. Barbie says:

    Very nice! I love the black iron hanger thingy! It all goes so well together….love your plants and flowers too! Good job Karen!

  36. Alisha says:

    How lovely! I used to live in Victoria. The summer fireworks at the gardens are the most spectacular thing ever! The beautiful smell of the gardens combined with incredible fireworks is always an event to remember :)

  37. MissChris SA says:

    Very very nice!!!

  38. Gayle'' says:

    Envy. My hubby doesn’t want to drill holes in the house. I am still trying to design something free-standing that I think “we” will build together. Another “we almost got divorced over this” project. LOL

    You are such an inspiration, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      You just tell him to stop being so weird and drill away! ~ karen

    • Pam'a says:

      I saw a design for no-nail window boxes like that. They were mounted on stakes driven into the ground sitting right in front of the windows instead of being attached to the house. This could be done in several ways, maybe even putting trellis below the boxes– whatever. Obviously, metal stakes would last longest.

      I hesitate to diverge from your version, Karen, but since I’ve already done so, I also wonder if the boxes might last longer with metal grate or screen instead of wood bottoms. (If I were to go to the trouble of building them, I’d want them to last for at *least* a century… Heh.)

      • Karen says:

        Ha! Well, a century might be a bit long for me, but 75 years at least would be nice. At first I loved your metal grate idea, but then it occurred to me that most metal would also just rust and rot, lol. I had rigid hardware cloth in my mind. Also the bottom is what helps keep the boxes straight so you’d have to add some sort of either metal brackets or braces so I think we’re back where we started with a plain old window box. ~ karen! … unless you could find galvanized metal … that might work for the bottom!

        • Pam'a says:

          Ooo. Yes, hardware cloth! As for keeping the boxes straight, well, you might be right. But it might be worth a shot for this particular gal. :)

        • Gayle'' says:

          Metal stakes were exactly what I had in mind! And was trying to figure how to keep the bottom more open for drainage–hardware cloth would fit the bill perfectly, with maybe just a few inches of wood bottom at each end to help keep it square. (I learn so much at this blog–thank you, Karen!)

  39. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Nice job Karen! I do love me some nasturtiums, especially the orange ones. Was hoping to be the first responder since it is only 10pm-ish here. Did I mention I’m down in Cabo for a week?

  40. Mark says:

    Really look great!

    It almost looks like you caulked the screws, wood cracks, and joints before you painted, but I can’t tell for sure. It’s an easy (and cheap) way to extend the life of the paint.

  41. Paula says:

    Great job! They look fantastic.
    Incidentally, I was at Butchart Gardens last year and loved every minute of it. The flower seeds that I brought back are the wildflower mix :)

    • Paula says:

      I still have them so that is a present tense ‘are the wildflower mix’ or because the sentence is referring to last year when I brought them back…should it be ‘were the wildflower mix’?

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