DIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled barrel planter

by Kate Pruitt

We’ve been having the most beautiful sunny weather for the past few days here in Oakland, and it’s making me desperate to get into a garden . . . if only I had one! I’ve been planning to create a container garden for a while now, but hadn’t really found a space-saving design I liked — until this recycled barrel planter from Kate at Centsational Girl landed in my lap. Inspired by a similar planter she saw in a catalog for hundreds of dollars, Kate decided to make her own version for ten times less, using a half barrel and wood from old pallets. I love the architectural tiers, and the pre-weathered effect of both the barrel and the pallet wood. Thanks for sharing, Kate! —Kate

See the full how-to for Kate’s recycled barrel planter after the jump!


  • half wine barrel
  • 2 strips of wood ½” x 6” x 26”
  • 7 strips of wood ½” x 4” x 10–12” (length varies with mitered corners)
  • jig saw
  • compound miter saw
  • power screwdriver & drill bit for holes
  • measuring tape
  • wood screws
  • twine (optional)


1. Divide the barrel into thirds with a measuring tape, then mark where you’ll cut the barrel to create the three main tiers. I used twine to help me visualize how the barrel would look split into three levels before I drew my markings on the side of the barrel.

2. Measure the drop in the front tier where you’ll cut (12” down) and the second tier behind it (6” down) and mark areas to cut.

3. Use a traditional blade on a jig saw to carefully cut through the wood staves. For the metal band, you’ll need a special blade. I found this set of metal blades at my local True Value Hardware store for $2.39. Detach the wood blade and attach the metal blade for the sheet metal band cuts. Before you cut, double check the stability of your metal band on your barrel, since band stability varies from barrel to barrel depending on where it’s created. The band on the barrel we used was stabilized by nails driven into the band every 6” during the fabrication (or cooperage) of the barrel, so even after the cuts were made, the metal band stayed intact.

4. Once you’ve made your vertical cuts, measure the distance across the barrel (approx. 26”), and trim your wood to match the curvature of the barrel. Attach your ½” x 6” x 26” board with wood screws as shown.

5. Drill drainage holes in the bottom, two for each of the main tiers. To create the six tiers, I used salvaged wood from these pallets sitting in my side yard, which worked perfectly, and they were free! The larger boards were used for the main tiers, and the smaller boards were used to form the triangle tiers.

6. Once your main tiers are set (above), create the triangles with angled cuts on a compound miter saw. Attach your triangles together with wood screws, then secure them to the main three tiers with additional screws to form the raised triangle tiers.

7. Fill your planter with soil (it holds 2 cubic feet) and add your favorite plants!

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