Guitar Planter

2 Materials
$30
5 Hours
Medium

With the weather transitioning, we have a project that can displayed outdoors while the weather is still nice and then brought inside to enjoy until next Spring!

We first saw a guitar planter in 2012 while vacationing in Florida when we visited the botanical gardens in Naples. It was like any traditional botanical garden until we came upon a stunning vignette in the Smith Children's Garden. It featured
guitar planter
The wood on the body was split in many places. That was slightly problematic because instead of cutting away the face entirely, I wanted to leave a 1" border around the perimeter which would still leave the cracks. Having a border was beneficial to helping hold the soil in place, so I decided to embrace the cracks!

Disassemble
Clean the guitar before or after disassembling. Remove the strings by loosening the tuning keys which will ease the tension.

Pull the string out of the hole in the peg. Then pull each string out the bottom of the bridge. Some of the strings were difficult to grasp, so I used a needle nose plier to grab the end.
guitar planter
Remove the neck of the guitar to make it easier to handle the body when it comes time to cut it open. The heel was attached with only one nut and bolt. We didn't have a single socket wrench to fit a square head, it so I used the needle nose pliers to grab it and twist it off.
guitar planter
I saved all the pieces that were removed in a Ziplock so we could reinstall the neck again later. However, we ended up replacing the hardware to make it more sturdy.

Set aside the neck. Now you're left with just the body. I made a template so I could cut out certain areas of the face and transferred the pattern to the guitar (head to our blog to see the process). I placed pieces of green tape across the areas I didn't want to cut so I wouldn't accidentally cut too far.

You'll notice that this guitar didn't have pick guard, so I drew one on.
guitar planter
Cut Away Each Section
Now it was finally ready to cut. I took the body outside to the garage where it didn't matter if I kicked up sawdust. My tools of choice were a jigsaw with a fine metal cutting blade and a rotary tool.

I started with the rotary tool to cut the straight lines, but then realized it was easier just to drill a small hole in each corner to accommodate the jigsaw blade. The rotary tool did come in handy though for cutting the ribs.
guitar planter
I followed all the pencil lines with the jigsaw. Cutting through the ribs met with resistance; if you experience that too, just be slow and persistent with the jigsaw (as you'll see on the video). You may need to use the rotary tool and utility knife in some spots.
guitar planter
Repair
If you have a guitar that's in better shape, you can skip this step, however I had to fix all the splits in the remaining wood. I placed a popsicle stick beneath each split, marked it  and cut it to size with scissors (just don't use your best scissors). The sticks were glued onto the underside of the wood then clamped until dry. There are more details on our blog about how to handle tricky areas if you have to make repairs like this.
guitar planter
Sand
Once all the clamps were removed, it was time to give the wood a light sand with fine grit sandpaper. I started with the front and sides.
guitar planter
To remove all the dust, Hubs lightly misted a cotton rag with water and wiped each piece clean.
guitar planter
Waterproof with Sealant
To prevent the wood from rotting on the inside due to moisture from the soil, we used a product called Liquid Rubber. You'll find more info and a link to it on our blog.

Hubs likes to wet the brush with water first before painting, and then flick it out, so he prepped the brush for me. I ended up applying three thin coats to the inside of the guitar over the course of a weekend. Each coat needs to dry 12 - 24 hours before re-coating so this was a Friday-Sunday project!
guitar planter
I taped off around the sound hole and edge so I could paint the 'pick guard' with two coats of black acrylic craft paint.
guitar planter
NGR
The inspiration guitar looked like it had been artfully stained with blue and green aniline dyes. Our curbside find, on the other hand, was bland in comparison. I decided to apply an NGR Spirit Stain in a blue-green shade right over the sanded wood.

I taped paper on the inside of the guitar and sprayed two coats of NGR. I was a little heavy handed with it; I probably should have stopped after one coat. Although it's darker than I would've liked, I still love how it turned out. What's even better was that I didn't have to strip the guitar down to bare wood to get the look of stain!

I also did the bridge and neck of the guitar.
guitar planter
After letting the stain dry, we gave everything four coats of water based Varathane to seal it so the exterior surfaces would be protected from water exposure too.

Reassemble and Plant
When it came time to bolt the neck back onto the body of the guitar, we replaced the bolt, washer (we used a much larger one) and added a locking nut. We devised a way to put the bridge back into the same position it was originally on the guitar (more about that on our blog).

We planted the guitar with succulents and softened the edges with moss. Choose Your Moss Wisely! I was short on time and picked up some moss from the dollar store. It looks great but it's actually NOT a good idea to use dollar store moss in this instance because the green dye will leach anytime it comes into contact with water. Dollar store moss is fine for projects that will never be watered, but spend the money for high quality moss!

Watering and Display
We chose not to drill holes in the guitar, but if you plan to keep this outside, you definitely should drill drainage holes! Head to our blog to see our trick for not overwatering the guitar planter.

The guitar should sit horizontally for several weeks until the roots are established and it can be displayed vertically. We found a guitar stand online to display it vertically:
guitar planter
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guitar planter
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Head to our blog for more reveal pictures: you'll also find a picture of the original guitar at the Naples Botanical Garden that inspired this project :)

Suggested materials:

  • Guitar  (roadside rescue)
  • Succulents  (garden centre)
Birdz of a Feather

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Cci31634194
    on Sep 9, 2018

    Really looks great and you did a super job. Am wondering how you water it, especially inside? Do you use a mister? And how do the succulents hold up inside through the winter?

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Sep 12, 2018

      Yes, I've heard of that. I think that's fine if you have exposed soil but when the succulents are packed in and tight I wouldn't leave a frozen ice cube on top of the plants themselves. Some succulents are tropical and not hardy enough to withstand cold.

  • What's NGR?

  • Lol587243
    on Sep 12, 2018

    What is recommended to refurbish a vintage wrought iron bird cage for a parrot?

    • CJ
      on Sep 13, 2018

      Hi Lol587243, am I understanding your question, you want to refurbish a cage and use it for your parrot? I think that question would be better answered by the more public method. Scroll up to the top of the page, on the right hand side you'll find "Ask a question" if you click there you can post a question where more people will see it. I'm sure someone, or several will be able to advise you how to make your cage clean, nice looking and safe for a bird to live in. Good luck!

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