DIY Criss Cross Outdoor Planters

By Kate Riley April 8, 2013

I’ve been a DIYer for like ever but I have to say this is one of my favorite DIY projects to date. I mentioned last month how I was going to build some outdoor planters and last week, Matt and I built two outdoor planters for the courtyard to frame the French doors. When I first started this project I planned on a Chippendale style, but stopped at the basic criss-cross pattern – the simplicity appealed to me. We’ve built a lot of things together, but these are my new favorites!

diy criss cross planters


We referred to Ana’s cedar planter plans to get us started but varied the height and width of the cuts, and then added the X pattern detail at the end. We used a combination of pine and poplar from Lowes, here is the wood cut list for each planter and how we assembled them:

Wood Cut List Per Planter:

Sides:  1 x 6” boards cut at 21.5” length (12 pieces)

Legs: 2 x 2” boards cut at 24” length (4 pieces)

Top + Bottom Slats: 1 x 3” cut at 16.5” width (8 pieces)

Interior Supports: 1 x 2” cut at 16.5” width (2 pieces) and 1 x 8” at 16.5” width (2 pieces)

Criss Cross Pattern:  1 x 2” cut at 42 degree (4 pieces at 22.5” length) and 7 degree angles (8 pieces cut at 10.5”length (see diagram below))

Tool + Supply List:

Compound miter saw; Kreg Jig; measuring tape; safety eyewear; power screwdriver; brad nailer (or hammer and brad nails); wood screws, sander, respirator (for sanding and spray priming/painting); paint or stain, wood (see cut list).


Assembly Steps:

We built and assembled these as a team, first Matt cut all the boards we needed for the planters (see cut list above) – safety eyewear is important when working a miter saw, splinters can fly! (hey do you recognize that table? yeah, that’s how we roll.)

cut boards with miter saw


I assembled each of the sides and nailed them all together with our brad nailer – you could also use simple brad nails and a hammer.

brad nail together


We used a Kreg Jig to drill holes in the interior of each side, two in each corner. (is it just me or do you also love the smell of sawdust? It’s one of my favorite smells ever, strange but true.)

use kreg jig


Next we added a wood screws on the interior, one on each 1 x 6” board to keep it all tight.

screw slats


The holes from the Kreg Jig make it easy to assemble four sides quickly with a power drill.

screw sides together


As a last step in the assembly, we used rough cut 1 x 8” lumber to make two slats and stabilized them 14” below the top (see Ana’s plans for further details).

supports inside


Some of the corners were a little rough so I smoothed them out with an orbital sander, but a mouse or detail sander would work too.

rough edges

sanded smooth


To make the criss cross X pattern you have to cut your 1” x 2” boards at the right angle with the saw so that they line up with the top and bottom boards.

make x pattern


If you duplicate, your angles may be different but for ours, the first criss cross board edge was cut at a 42 degree angle.

42 degree cuts


We cut the smaller pieces to form the “X” at a 7 degree angle where they meet in the middle to form the X.

degree cuts


Here’s a diagram for reference (but make angle adjustments for your own planter box pattern).

criss cross measurement details

Attach 1 long piece and 2 short pieces on each side to form the criss cross pattern.

attach with nail gun


At this point you’re done assembling them  – leave them in a natural state and coat them with an outdoor Polyurethane or stain them (I’m crushing on Weathered Gray like on this planter bench), or paint them which is what I did.

criss cross planters before paint


I used one can of Zinsser Bullseye primer on each one (water based primers are better outdoors, not the oil based Cover Stain which is what I use on furniture and cabinets indoors).  Make sure you wear a respirator when you spray paint to avoid breathing the fumes.

bullseye primer


After the primer dried, I applied two coats of white paint in “Raindrops” by Glidden, they make a water based mildew resistant formula that works well outdoors. I also used some paintable caulking to fill in a few wider gaps between boards (not shown).

glidden exterior paint


Inside each finished planter, I added weed barrier to support the soil – water can get through it but I also l punched a bunch of holes in the bottom to guarantee good drainage.

liner inside planter


I planted a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in each one – this variety will do well in full sun (our courtyard faces west) and it will be so great having more citrus in the yard. Lemonade! Limoncello! Lemon cake! Lemon tart! Lemon anything, amen.

planted dwarf meyer lemon

lemon tree in planter


These outdoor planters are totally custom, completely gorgeous, and handmade!  I’m so proud of this project!

diy x pattern criss cross planter


They perfectly frame our set of French doors – our dining room is on the other side and this is the view from the kitchen door.

planters view from kitchen


french doors and planters


diy criss cross x pattern planters


I thought this planter project would take longer than it did, and I was surprised how fast we assembled them once Matt made all the cuts. We spent more than I planned, I wanted each to be around $40 and we ended up spending twice that with the more expensive wood we chose – not the cheapest DIY project but so worth it since they make such a statement in the yard and we’ll have them forever. Wood prices vary by area and also by quality and type of wood so recreating them in your town may be much less expensive.

Isn’t it great when friends and family visit and say “where did you get that?” and your reply is “Oh, we made it!”  That’s what I love about DIY, raise your hand if you agree!


3m tekk protection, 3m tekk, safety, respirator, tekk protection, safety projectsThis post is a collaboration with 3M™ TEKK Protection™ Brand – all words and opinions are my own.





  1. Gorgeous planters! I love the smell of sawdust too. Makes me wish I had space in my condo to have all the great power tools…right now I just have to plan to do building projects at my parents’ house.

  2. Oh my gosh Kate,
    I have these on my to-do-list! I can’t believe you just handed me specific instructions!! Thank you…I am hoping to have enough reclaimed wood from an another area in our yard.
    Thank you so much!

    • I love the idea of using reclaimed wood Kelly, that would be amazing!

    • Nope, they shouldn’t rot at all, perhaps get weathered over a few years but a light sanding and touch up paint should keep them looking prisine.

  3. They look great.We made some of these for my sister and added drawer pulls with lion heads on the X.jUST FOR SOME BLING.

  4. Pretty! Very inspired to make some for our patio of for the sides of garage and bring some greenery into the space! :)

  5. Wow! I thought the planters in the first pic were your “inspiration planters”. I can’t believe you MADE those! Beautiful! Great job!

  6. CG: Love your planters…seriously, everything you do is my inspiration!

    I just bought a precious vintage patio set (1 bistro table with 4 chars). It’s solid wood and painted white. The paint is chipping and it needs to be repainted (I just want to repaint white).

    Would it be OK to use the same Zinsser primer with the glidden paint? Should I sand the piece before priming? If so, would you suggest a hand sander or could I do it manually? The reason I ask is because I don’t own a hand sander.


    • Hi Anna, you could sand it by hand with a wedge, that would work, then power wash it. You might look into the Peel Stop primer by Zinsser as a first layer and then use an exterior paint on top.

  7. Perfect timing! I was just looking to DIY planters like this for my front porch. Now I just need to talk my husband into helping :)

  8. Truly beautiful! I’m hoping to make rectangular planters with the Chippendale detailing and adding horizontal lattice trellises on one side. They will be on casters so that they can moved and used for privacy on different parts of our patio. Wish me luck. Hope they work up as smoothly as yours did.

  9. I also love the smell of sawdust. It reminds me of my childhood and my dad’s many projects. He passed away three years ago, and when I smell it, I think of him.

  10. Hi Kate! Those turned out REALLY nice looking. But what makes me the happiest is that you said you love the smell of sawdust. I thought it was just me. My hubby and son both think I’m crazy because I LOVE the smell of Home Depot. It just smells like “New House” to me. I think that should be Yankee Candle’s next new fragrance btw. :)

  11. The planters are simply beautiful! FYI, the candles came out last year–my guys all got 2×4(sawdust scent) & riding mower(fresh mown grass scent) in their stockings last year ;-)
    I love both smells!

  12. Not only a nice project, but you do a great job of instructions for your DIY.

    What I really love about this one is Matt’s workshop table and on his knees to use it. My daughter and I are always getting opinions about using the “correct” environment. We are going laugh a bit at this when she sees it. It nicely reinforces the many projects happily pursued with what one has and still finish in style.

  13. Great planters and great tutorial! I don’t think I could even grow those lemons in my house with our cold temperatures…lol. We still have snow in our driveway. Cheers.

  14. I love the planters. I think I will see if I can get someone to make a couple for me. They would look great on my deck. I am going to pin this to my pinterest garden board.

  15. These are so beautiful! We are just settling into our very first house and for the first time have a backyard (it’s been all apartment living before this). I’m loving all the inspiration for the outdoors I’m finding on your blog. Thank you!


  16. The planters look perfect on each side of your french doors. Thanks for sharing.


  17. Your planters look great! I’ve always wanted to make some boxed planters like this and I’m glad I saw your post today because I was already thinking about how to get started on these with the hubby. :)

  18. The planters look great, Kate! I’m in awe of y’all’s talent with tools! This post makes me want a lemon tree!

  19. Hi-
    Can you tell me the overall width and depth of these planters when finished? They are perfect!

  20. These are absolutely gorgeous!!! I want to bring this design look into my livingroom, but cannot figure out what this Style of Design is called — I’ve had people suggest Mission, Modern Farmhouse, and French Country……Does anyone know? HELP ;D

  21. These are stunning, purpose built for the scale of your doors and space and may not be the cheapest DIY you have ever done but you would have paid at least double if not triple for the scale and the quality that you have. Great job!!!!

  22. Amazing! I love these planters. The white, the X pattern….love it all! We are currently building a house and I have been visualizing and planning to put Lemon trees in planters on the back patio just like this…someday!:) I’m so happy to have come across this post.

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