Modern Built in Planters

We’re taking advantage of this warm but not too warm spring weather with an outside project that has never been a priority.  Apparently I don’t have many pictures of the cobbled together rock planter, seen on the right, likely because I’ve always hated it.


It divides the flat parking and the steep driving sides of our driveway, with nearly a four-foot height difference between the two.  The planter is needed to help bridge the gap of elevation difference, but is difficult to navigate around with bigger vehicles.  A native Ponderosa Pine grew in the planter, taking up even more space.  We did like the height and interest it added, but weren’t sad when it died from beetle damage and had to be cut down.


Aside from the too large size, the planter construction was an ugly cobbled together mixture of leftover rocks.  Sandstone boulders from the property, left over landscape blocks, and thin sandstone stacked together made a wobbly structure.Peonies-and-Boxwood-by-Front-Walk

Earlier this spring, I transplanted the peonies that were in here and starting pulling out the loose rocks.


In order to prep for the new planter, Ben used the bobcat to dig out the big rocks.


He dug down four feet to create an area to set the new planter in, which will get back filled after.


We intentionally left a 30 inch space between the wooden walkway and the future planter.  I’ll add plants to fill the gap, but also trail down the front slope.


So what type of planter are we installing?  Well, we kicked around several options.  Maybe a square plate steel design, similar to these:

Or a poured concrete shape, like this:

Kathleen Shaefer Landscape

Perhaps even a horizontal wood one to mimic the balcony and deck railings.

Contemporist Built in Planter

All would be great, but I decided I wanted something softer and not angular; something round.  Preferably something with thin walls to allow as much planting space inside, without taking up more of the driveway.  Ben suggested a section of culvert, and though it seems strange, I really like it.

Culvert Planter

I prefer the parallel grooves compared to the angled screw thread pattern.  To better blend with the house materials, I hope to rust the metal to bring a bit of the rust steel to the planter.

Horizontal Culvert Planter

Inside, I want to add a compact tree and surround the base with lavender to greet guests (and us) with that beautiful scent.  For now, we wait for our culvert section to come in.  Until then, I’ll be searching for trees, but I’m leaning toward an Ivory Silk Tree Lilac or an Amur Maple tree.  I’d love to hear your tree suggestions, keeping in mind we are zone 4 and want something that maxes out around 20 feet tall.

6 thoughts on “Modern Built in Planters

  1. A maple would look spectacular in the fall! What about an evergreen there so you’d have green and some privacy coverage year-round? I live in TN, where there aren’t as many fir-style evergreens, so I’ve always liked the different texture and colors they add to a landscape.

    Also, what prevents the steel from eventually rusting away completely and falling apart with all the water exposure it’ll get? And the sharp edges? I’ve never seen that style of planter before.

  2. What a neat idea for a planter- I love it! Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished. (Side note- a little jealous that Ben just “got out the bobcat”. I seriously need one of those in my permanent arsenal! LOL!)

  3. would love to see some more photos of this! what an innovative idea! The “rock cages” and wood are for seating?

  4. looking back at this again, I see that the photo I commented on was just a “sample” of what you’re going to do… Can’t wait to see your finished project!

Now it's your turn! Share your thoughts and opinions, stories and links. We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s