DIY Large Cement Planters-How to Make It in One Weekend

2 Materials
2 Days

Hi there! We have been working tirelessly on our backyard to create our outdoor oasis. There’s a lot of design planning and diy projects going on for this makeover. We have been making great strides and can’t wait to show you the progress. You can see where we started and how we built our pergola in my previous posts. Today, I want to share with you our DIY large cement planters that my husband built using plywood and cement.

My inspiration came from these enormous planters from a terrace space designed by New York designer Gunn Landscape architects.

I loved the way the two large pots flank the sides of the small patio. This layout from the inspiration yard was similar to ours, so it was a perfect jumping off point for this makeover.Also, l wanted to add trees to soften our space and to make it feel cozy. Since our backyard is fully paved we didn’t have any dirt areas to plant trees except for a small section along the fence. These planters gave us an opportunity to incorporate a couple of tall trees.So, I went perusing the internet endlessly to purchase planters with the right look and size for the space. Many of the ones I found was too small or resin pots, that just wouldn’t do. I pitched the idea to my husband and lo and behold he volunteered to diy the cement planters without questioning my sanity. I say go for it!At first, we were contemplating which materials to use for our diy planters. We were considering either wood or cement. However, I was concerned with making such a large planter with wood, not sure how durable it will be for a lengthy period of time. So, we decided to build it with concrete… its strong, durable, easy to work with and will get similar feel as the inspiration planters!

Here is how we did it…Supply list for our 24″W X 24″DX 32″H Planter

  • 6 – 80 lb bags of Quikrete concrete mix
  • Trowel
  • Water
  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Rubber mallet
  • screws
  • Duck tape
  • 2″ pvc pipe – cut to 4″ height

DirectionsFirst, built two boxes, one 24″ X 32″ square box and one 22″ X 30″ square box by cutting out the plywood to desired sizes.For the larger plywood box, cut 4-24″ X 32″ panels and 24″ X 24″ for the bottom of the box.

For the smaller plywood box, cut out 4 – 22″ X 32″ panels and then cut each of them into half, 11″ X 32″. This will make it easier to remove the interior pieces after the cement sets. Finally, cut 22″ X 22″ for the bottom of the smaller box.

Drill 2″ hole on the bottom of the large box and put the pvc pipe through. This will create the drainage for the planter. The PVC pipe should be 2″ above the base of the box. Cover the top of the pvc pipe so that cement doesn’t get inside.

Put the smaller box inside the large box and space evenly. Make sure the edges are equal in size all around.

We cut out 2″ blocks and screwed to the edges to ensure equal space all around.

After completing the two plywood boxes, we are ready to start forming the cement planter.Mix the cement according to the directions on the bag, mix till you have a peanut butter consistency. Don’t add too much water, this can cause cracks while the cement is drying.Now, you are ready to pour the cement. Pour 2″ layer of cement in the large box. This is the bottom of your cement planter.

Continue tapping all around the box, this will break up the bubbles and gaps in the cement. More vigorous tapping will cause less holes in the cement.

We let it dry for 2 days, it will take some time to fully cure. Once the cement is completely dried, we started to remove the plywood forms to reveal the planter. The outer pieces screwed off very easily. However, the inside was a bit more difficult. We had to use a flat screwdriver and the mallet to pry the plywood.

Afterwards, sand the edges and any rough area you want to smoothen.

There were some holes that didn’t break up from the tapping, but at the end I really like them. I felt it added to the character of the planter. We painted it with Valspar Cement stain and sealer.

Time to plant… We had purchased a dwarf apple tree to plant in one pot. Eventually, I’ll plant a fig tree in the second planter. For now, I planted a hydrangea bush till I get a fig tree. The planters are so big that it may be able to hold both the hydrangea plant and the fig tree.

There you have it, our extremely large DIY cement planters! I am obsessed at the way they turned out. With a bit of DIY enthusiasm, you would really enjoy experimenting with concrete. You can create different shapes and sizes and color. Also, you don’t need to create such large planters as we did, you can create any size you need for your space. If you have some patience and a DIY enthusiasm, you’ll love making these concrete planters and will want to experiment with different shapes and sizes, or fun painting them.You can check out more of diy cement projects

Resources for this project:

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

Frequently asked questions

 3  questions
  • Liz on Jan 29, 2021

    How do they overwinter? Can they be left outside or do they need to be moved indoors?

    • on Feb 03, 2021

      These planters stay outside, they are way too heavy to move. But so far so good they don't seem to be affected by the weather.

  • Know on Feb 06, 2021

    Great job! I love how beautifully your planters turned out. I was thinking about trying something like this myself, and I’m wondering with such a big planters, Well I need to reinforce the structure with chicken wire or some thing on the inside to keep it from cracking apart with the weight of the dirt and roots. Any suggestions? Is that necessary?

    • on Feb 06, 2021

      Although we didn't reinforce with chicken wire, I would think it wouldn't hurt. I have seen videos on creating large planters and they did not reinforce with wire. So far, our planters seems very strong and no cracks of any sorts. Good luck!

    • Know on Feb 07, 2021

      Thank you! And again, awesome job. 👍🏻🌟🙌🏻

    • Flipturn on Mar 30, 2021

      Keep in mind that the centre cavity need not be filled completely with dirt all the way to the bottom of the planter, especially if the plants on top are perennials. With lightweight 'filler' such as styrofoam, the weight of the inside dirt will not be more than the concrete planter. As solid concrete is very heavy on its own, IMO there is no need for extra reinforcement with chicken wire.

    • Know on Mar 30, 2021

      Thank you... I need to fill with dirt.. looking for an affordable way to contain my 30+ foot tall plants. Very heavy.. I know!

  • Ms.VeeBee on Apr 08, 2021

    Are the number of bags of cement per-planter, or is that the total number of bags for both planters?

    • on May 06, 2021


      The number of cement bags was for one planter only. We used approximately 6 - 80lb bags of cement. It depends on the size of the planter you want to build. Good luck to you if you decide to tackle this project.


  • Paola A. Hurel on Jan 28, 2021

    Wow, loved it. I checked your pergolas job and both are fantastic.....can I borrow your husband for a weekend? Your ideas and his execution are great. Congratulations!

    • on Jan 29, 2021

      Thank you so much Paola! It helps that my husband is in construction and he was very productive state of mind during the pandemic. So it was a win win!

  • Lise_90 on Jan 28, 2021

    Awesome outdoor oasis!

  • Marilyn on Jan 28, 2021

    Really pretty

  • Em on Jan 28, 2021

    Very nice!

  • Snipers on Jan 29, 2021

    wow awesome

  • Em on Feb 21, 2021

    Love the planters. Love your patio. Love your pergola. I moved from an 1920's house with a full front covered porch and a covered 2nd floor porch out the back. Now I have no front porch just a small square of cement and a 15 x 20 flat slab of concrete in the back. SO miss my privacy and place to sit.

  • Em on Feb 21, 2021

    I see score lines on the inner box, assuming you did to to remove it easier, but don't see this in the directions. Also not seeing how you would have a floor that connects to the outer walls unless the inner box is several inches above the floor of the larger box.

  • on Feb 22, 2021

    Hi, Yes sorry, I missed that part of the directions. We did two planters and we learned from the first one that if we score the interior plywood it was easier to remove. The bottom of the planter was about 2" which connected to the outer walls. If you have any questions let me know. Thank you.

  • Face on Jun 22, 2021

    They turned out beautiful!

  • Ali51670054 on Jul 31, 2021

    They look great and we are planning to make them very soon. We also loved the dining setting. Can you tell me the brand please?