In need of something to improve the look of my front porch, I decided a small planter box would do the trick. There's nothing quite like some of Mother Nature's color to dress things up. I could have gone with a number of large colorful pots rather than a planter box, but I prefer to let the plants put on the show.
I thought about building a raised planter from scratch, but given the time of season - late July - and assessing the lumber costs and the construction time involved, I decided to check out a kit option. With prices ranging from $40 to $200+, there are a lot of garden planter kits out there, wood, plastic, metal, 1 tier, 2 tier, with and without a trellis and more.
I wanted to keep it fairly simple, a garden box to display flowers on the front porch, with a shelf underneath for storage.
In deciding on a planter box, I went with the Yaheetech 2 Tier Raised Bed Garden Planter Box. The box measures 34 inches by 18 inches and when fully assembled the planter is 30 inches tall. The all wood construction features the storage shelf I wanted and the box floor includes holes for ventilation and drainage. The wood itself has been polished to provide smooth surfaces and treated with a plant safe sealer to extend the life of the planter. "Nice!" I thought, "I don't have to buy landscaping fabric or a liner!"
I found the planter kit on Amazon and with my Prime membership shipping was free and took just two days. The box arrived without issue, it was packed well, with no breakage or missing parts. All the parts were labeled and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The only tool required was my handy dandy Craftsman Cordless Drill and I had the planter box assembled in less than one hour.
And while the description of the planter mentions drainage holes, they do NOT mention that landscaping fabric or liner of some sort is necessary. In addition to the drainage holes there are two 1/2 inch gaps running front to back in the floor of the box not evident in the description pictures, making a liner of some sort a must. Without a liner, soil would empty out of the box. I was hoping to get away with using coffee filters to cover the drainage holes, it's a container garden hack I wanted to take advantage of. But the gaps in the box floor killed that idea, it's not a big deal, I had to go purchase some liner. There should be a "Liner required to prevent soil loss," comment in the description, heck, but not even a "Liner sold separately" comment. I digress.
This is a small planter box, but it is sturdy and because of its size, it's pretty mobile as well, even when filled with soil. I used potting mix, but it could accommodate bagged soil made specifically for raised bed garden boxes which is a little heavier. I wouldn't go with regular garden soil or top soil though, that would be too heavy for this box. It's sturdy, but it's not heavy duty. Besides, root vegetables are a lot easier to grow in the lighter soils! I used Expert Gardener Potting Mix, it's every bit as good as Miracle Grow and costs a lot less, below are the prices at Walmart.
- Expert Gardener Potting Soil, 1 cubic foot bag: $6.48
- Miracle Grow Potting Soil, 1 cubic foot bag: $9.88
This planter box is the perfect size for my front porch and dresses things up nicely, thank you Mother Nature! For this season, I've planted it with Dragon's Breath (hat tip to Lori S), Madagascar Periwinkle (clearance sale at Walmart for $2 each) and some Sweet Potato Vine that will eventually drape over the side.
If I opt to grow veggies next year I'll easily be able to add a trellis to this planter at a later date to accommodate a tomato, cucumbers or pole beans. Even if I don't switch to veggies, adding a trellis would provide the structure for a climbing vine such as Clematis or Mandevilla, elevating the beauty in the box. Something to think about, so many options!
Purchased for $59, I'm giving the Yaheetech 2 Tier Raised Bed Garden Planter Box 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. This is a kit that assembles easily, all the pre-drilling/cutting and pre-assembly of certain parts was done correctly. I'm pleased with the quality and it's a sturdy little raised bed garden planter box. I'm not sure that I could have constructed this box from scratch for under $60. My only issue is the gap thing in the box flooring, but that was easily worked around. Moving forward, it's probably safe to assume that a liner will be required with most any raised bed garden planter kit.