The Ugliest Planters in the World

I love it. The Ugliest Planters in the World. This fits my goal for the balcony garden perfectly. I just want some tasty veggies, I don’t care how planters look. End goal always in mind, I’m not worried about little things like pretty planters, I just want to build them and be done with it (build them because it’s sooo much cheaper than buying or ordering pre-built). This will not be applicable to many people out there if you are going for aesthetics or other goals (see my post on Garden Goals), but it’s great for me.

I love projects, and this is a fun little one. I bought 3 sheets (4’x8′) of plywood to start with. The 1/2in plywood I bought for this project is light and will get the job done. NOTE! This stuff is very flimsy and will probably rot out in a year or even less, let’s see. But I only want it for one season or so. I’m sure I’ll have grand designs for next year’s balcony project. I would not recommend 1/2 plywood if you are trying to build something that’ll last, haha.

Getting the boards cut to size was nearly impossible, there are very limited DIY (Do It Yourself) resources here. I finally got some help from the workers at MC Home Depot (not to be confused with the US Home Depot, which it is nothing like). Three hours of hand sawing later (yes, no circular saws or jig saws to be had after checking a million shops), I got all the pieces for the planters cut.

Now the pieces come home for the fun part! I want to maximize the space so I made a small effort to do this and built the planters up. See in the pic, the first planter is done, I nailed 2×6’s to the back of it as the base of the next planter:

Balcony Planter - Step 1

The first planter box – done


Once the second planter is done it nails into the 2×6’s of the first. This ties the structure together nicely:
Balcony Planter - Step 2

The second planter builds on the back of the first


The top of each planter is wider than the bottom to minimize the footprint of the planters. The back is straight up and down but the front slopes outwards, as shown in this pic (back doesn’t look straight but it is…….roughly):
Balcony Planter - Step 3

Minimizing footprint of planters since my balcony is narrow


These things don’t need to be perfect, or even that great. Not all nails make it where they’re supposed to go:
Balcony Planter - Step 4

Expert craftsmanship. ‘Nuff said.


I just left that in there. Good iron for the soil. Now a look at the completed planters:
Balcony Planter - Step 5

The completed planters in place on the balcony


Not bad right?! Haha, they will look a lot better loaded up with veggies. Anyway this will be great, from my bedroom we can step out onto the balcony right where the planters start:
Balcony Planter - Step 6

Stepping onto the balcony right into the garden


What a great day, projects are so much fun! It is great to see the balcony garden start coming together, the planters out there are a great first step. They are simple, requiring only a hammer and nails (after doing the cutting at the store) to construct, along with a few hours of labor. Anyone living in the city can do this simple project, and have a nice size garden space to work with afterwards.

Next week will be soil time, another fun project! There is a little more to planter box soil than meets the eye. Can’t wait to share next week.

Have you built balcony planters or other planters for a small space before? Have suggestions? We’d love to hear them. I made some attempt here to save space but there are many more ways to do it. I’d love to hear about yours.

  • Big Ray

    Your planters are not at all ugly. I tried growing in “closed” containers several times. It never did work out for me. The more drainage and aeration holes I put in my planters, the better they did.

    Now, 25 years later, I grow in grow-bags, which is really the blue woven poly “green” shopping bags that Walmart sells for .50 cents each. These are the bags we are supposed to use over-and-over again so that we don’t contribute more plastics into the landfills. I do also use them for that purpose. They hold about 4 1/2 gallons of soil and, the air-pruning effect is phenomenal!

    My tomatoes last year got to nearly 9-feet-tall. The roots occupied nearly every square squwidgeon (pre-metric measurement) of space in those bags WITH NO CIRCLING anywhere in the containers! Lack of air was my enemy for a few years and, what a killer it was! Much of that time I thought it was solely a DRAINAGE issue. Drainage was a huge factor but, getting O2 to the root-zone produced by far the most dramatic results of all my experimenting.

    I use “treated” plywood sometimes in my gardening projects. Regular plywood will swell and separate very quickly here in this Louisiana cauldron climate. I hope yours lasts the entire season. I’m here rooting you on (pun intended)!

    • Patrick

      Thanks Big Ray! I suppose they aren’t the UGLiest planters in the WORld, but I like extremes, hah. Like, The Best Compost Tea in the World, which is in the pipeline.

      That is an awesome trick with the grow bags, thanks for sharing! Gives me good ideas for the next grow. The air-inhibited root growth is a neat trick. For those learning, when roots get to the edge of the air-permeable grow-bag they detect the increased airflow which means “this is the end of the soil line buddy” and they stop there. It saves all the wasted growth of roots circling and circling the container, leads to much more efficient space management in the root zone. I’ve seen containers with a toxic coating on the inside for the same effect – I like the air treatment much better. Classic example of using the tricks of nature.

      Hah – it’s even more humid here than Louisiana I imagine. I’m praying the planters last the season! Especially when I start watering with that super microbe-rich tea! We’ll see. Thanks for the support.

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