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Deck Table with Attached Planter - Outdoor Design Series, Pt 5

Welcome back to our Outdoor Design Series! In Part 5 I'll be showing you how to kill two birds with one stone: create a table AND a planter for flowers. It's an uncomplicated design that should help clear out your scrap wood maybe it's three birds with one stone.

If you'd rather have step-by-step written instructions, check out the PDF plans. I've put together comprehensive material and cut lists, detailed diagrams, photos, and easy-to-follow instructions to help you create your very own Planter Side Table. Take the guesswork out of your weekend project!

NOTE: Recently I've been challenging myself to design with sustainability in mind. Sure, Home Depot is always right around the corner and I could easily grab all the materials needed to make this table, but I wanted to see if I could use the leftover wood I had from other projects. And let's be honest, it's just sitting in my garage taking up valuable floor space. So I used 3/4" plywood leftover from my hairpin desk and 1" decking material that was left behind when our deck was renovated before we moved in. Honestly, this is simple enough that you could use pretty much whatever you have on hand. That said, if your scrap wood pile is low, a quick trip to your favorite local home improvement store would probably only set you back around $40 (honestly, it should be more like $20, but it's 2022 and lumber prices are still through the roof). So whether you're upcycling or buying new materials, keep reading and I'll show you how I made mine!

Tools Needed:

  • Miter saw

  • Orbital sander

  • Kreg jig

  • Drill with bits

  • *Table saw or circular saw (Note: these are to cut larger boards to size...if you're gluing/joining boards together to get the width you won't need these)

Materials Used:

  • Sandpaper (80 and 220 grit)

  • 1 1/2" exterior pocket screws

  • 2" exterior wood screws

  • Paint/stain

  • Lining for the planters (I used 2 gallon sized ziploc bags)

  • Optional: Corner clamps


  • 3/4" plywood for the table portion & planter bottoms

  • 1x6s for the planter portion

3D shop drawing that shows height, width and depth dimensions.
Overall planter table dimensions.

NOTE: If your planter table is going to be outside, make sure you use appropriate materials! If you use plywood like I did, make sure it's either a) exterior grade or b) you waterproof it. Failure to do so will result in your planter table falling apart quickly due to water and sun exposure.

Step 1 - Cut, Prep, & Finish Pieces

Cut the table and planter pieces. I always sand my pieces down to remove the rough edges and make paint/stain take more evenly. I dry fit everything as I go to make sure it passes the eye test.

I also paint/stain my pieces before assembly because I feel it allows more control when applying paint, an overall smoother finish, and, since this is an outdoor piece, allows me to seal all the edges. This planter table was part of my deck design and has the same black-paint-and-pecan-stain color scheme as the Herringbone Top Slide-Under Drink Table to keep the space cohesive. For reference, I used a pre-stain conditioner from minwax, Behr stain in pecan, and Behr exterior paint in Little Black Dress. Bonus points if you have a assistant who likes to "help".

A small-medium red-haired dog sitting next to painted table pieces. There are paw prints on the painted pieces from the dog.
My oh-so-helpful pup, Rio.

Once the paint and stain was dry, I dry fit everything again to check the colors. I love the way the color blocking looks!

Painted table and planter pieces dry fit together.
Always dry fit your pieces to make sure there weren't any mistakes!

Step 2 - Assemble

Now it's time to assemble! The Kreg jig makes creating strong (but hidden!) joints fast and easy. Pre-drill pocket holes according to the thickness of your wood in the table sides and planter fronts. Attach one table side to the table front to create one corner that stands by itself. Attach the front of the tall planter to each of sides of the tall planter - you'll need a 90 degree adapter or flexible head to attach the pocket screws on the second side - it's tight but worth it to keep the exposed sides clean. Attach the front and side piece of the short planter (it shares a side with the tall planter).

The planter portions need a bottom to hold the soil, but it also need to have drainage so you don't drown your plants. I cut leftover 3/4" plywood to fit the inside each planter.

I drilled several drainage holes with a 1/2" drill bit and attached using pocket holes on the bottom side. The height you attach the planter bottom is up to you, for reference I did 6" from the top so as not to waste soil once I started planting.

Use regular wood screws (as opposed to pocket holes and pocket screws) to attach the planters to the front of the table from the inside since it will be hidden.

Once the planters are secured to the front, attach the remaining table side and back. Flip the entire thing over and then attach the tabletop using pocket holes to secure it from the inside.

Interior view of the table showing the pocket holes and screws that attach the sides to the front and back, as well as the table top.
Attach the table top to the table frame using pocket screws.

Your table is built - now time to add the plants! Add a lining of some kind to the planters to make them last as long as possible; landscape fabric would work, or you can do what I did using gallon size ziploc bags. I cut them apart at the seams, stuffed them into the planters, filled the cavities with dirt and added the plants. I used a basil plant and a Mandevilla since they both tolerate lots and lots of sun...which my back deck has a LOT of. My flowers were planted the very end of April and have been thriving!

This is what the table looked like with its new plants on my back deck the end of April.

Black and pecan-stain planter table with plants.
Completed planter table!
Black and pecan-stained planter table with mandevilla and basil plants
Mandevilla and basil freshly planted.

And this is how much the plants have grown in a little over two months! Maybe I do have somewhat of a green thumb after all.

Mandevilla and basil plants growing in the planter table.
These plants have grown so much in two and a half months!

This is a simple table and planter combo that doesn't take much material or time - perfect for a weekend project! The combination planter and table means that you get a functional space for drinks and snacks AND a beautiful pop of color without taking up a lot of extra real estate. Again, two birds, one stone. Doesn't get much easier than that!

If you make your own planter table, we'd love to see it! Tag us @reddesignedinteriors and #reddesignedtutorials! Happy building!

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