We Bought a Farmhouse

stories of renovation, home decor inspiration & sprinkles of country life

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DIY Farmhouse Christmas Tree Planters (Courtesy of The White Cottage Farm)

One of my favorite things about social media is the sharing of ideas. With everything going on in the world, and with everyone having three different opinions on everything, it's nice to turn to the internet for light-hearted, creative inspiration. I'm not saying I have great ideas, but I do enjoy posting the projects we take on, with the hopes that others will read them, and feel empowered to tackle their own projects at home. I get a thrill out of making things with my hands, and I feel passionate about everyone having a home that's meaningful to them, and that's an expression of their own creativity. 

I also love being inspired by others. I try to only use Pinterest as a way to visualize an idea I already have in my head, so that our home doesn't end up looking like a replica of someone else's. But sometimes, I'm just stuck, and I need inspiration, and I do seek out new, fresh ideas that we can adapt to our house. In October, I found a photo on Pinterest from The White Cottage Farm of wood planters with Christmas trees in them, and I just fell in love. I've been stuck on how to decorate our front porch for Christmas for the past two years, and seeing this photo just made everything else come to together for me. Lucky for me, they posted a tutorial on their blog with a how-to on these planters, and I was inspired to tackle this project myself, without too much help from Josh. And, I'm happy to report, I succeeded.

Their tutorial online broke down all the lumber you need, as well as the exact measurements for your cuts, taking away all the guess work. So, off to Home Depot I went to get everything I needed, and when I came home, I got started.

See the link to tutorial here for the supplies you need, as well as the measurements and cuts you need to make.

I'd love to say that anyone can do this, but I do need to make a disclaimer that if you don't have power tools, this will be much more challenging. I can't imagine doing this project with a hand saw and a hammer and nails. I'm sure you could, but it would take forever because there are quite a few cuts you need to make and lots of nailing. If you own a table saw, and a nail gun, this will be pretty easy.

I started by using our table saw to cut all the wood. To save a little time, I stacked up 5 of the fence pieces at a time, and cut them in the stacks to the specifications listed in the tutorial. In the end, you'll end up with 32 pieces of fencing (4 for each side of the planters, and I made two planters total). When I moved on to the cuts for the 1x4's, I wrote down each measurement on every piece so I wasn't confused later on, and stacked them by length.

I'll be honest, I had a hard time following the written directions for the assembly, so I just looked at their pictures of the finished product to figure out what to do, and kind of used their directions as a guide. I started with the front and back sections, and laid them out on our deck seating bench. Before I nailed anything into place, I put the pieces together to make sure everything lined up (and to, you know, make sure it was correct) before I nailed them all into place. 

Side note: If you want the front legs of your planters to be angled off, I would suggest cutting the angle out before nailing everything into place. You'll read later in the tutorial that I tried to jigsaw out the angle after everything was assembled, and it didn't go well. You can use the directions in the tutorial to make your cut line, and then use a table saw (or even a hand saw) to cut the angle before nailing everything together.

Once I was happy with it with how everything was positioned, I used the nail gun and nailed away, making sure that all the fence pieces were nailed to the side rail pieces so the unit was secure. I repeated this process twice, and then the front and the back of Planter No. 1 was complete.

For the side pieces, this is where it got tricky, and I had to ask Josh for some ideas of how to finish these off. I really didn't understand the written directions at all, and I tried a few things before I had to step away from it, and come back to it with a fresh mind, and also, with Josh. 

The original tutorial had you start to build the side pieces onto the front and back pieces without being completely assembled, and for us, it just seemed easier to assemble the entire side piece first before securing them to the front and back. We decided that the same process of laying everything out in the exact design before nailing them into place worked the best. 

In order to secure the fence pieces, though, since there are no right and left beams for these sections, we needed to cut the cross beam out before nailing. I laid a 1x4 piece over the fence pieces, and made cut marks on the 1x4 by making two dots, and then drawing a line to connect them. It was about a 35-40 degree angle, and yours may depend based on your wood pieces. I used the table saw to make the cut for the cross beam, and then laid that down on top of the fence pieces. Then I added the top and bottom beams, lined them all up perfectly, and nailed those into place. I repeated the process for the other side. 

Side note: the tutorial suggests using two scrap wood pieces to create one of the cross beams on  side piece, but I had an extra 1x4 around the house, and just used a fresh one so I didn't have a seam to worry about. If you do this, I would suggest picking up another 1x4, which is only a few extra dollars.

Once we had each side constructed, we had to nail them all together. I had to have Josh help me hold the pieces together so I could secure them in place with the nail gun.

I decided I wanted to copy their tutorial and create a little bit of an angled front leg because it makes them look so much more custom. We didn't have the tool they used, so I used our jigsaw, and followed their instructions to make the cut. This is also where I ran into a little bit of trouble. The pressure of the jigsaw loosened some of my nails, and part of the planter fell apart during this process, and I basically had to reconstruct it and nail it back into place. It was such a pain, and my own stupidity for using a jigsaw in the first place. For the second planter, I cut the angled front legs before I nailed them into place in the beginning, and that is definitely the way to go about it. 

After both planters were completely assembled, I went around with some sandpaper just to get rid of any splintered wood. I contemplated using caulk to hide any gaps in wood (since, you know, I'm an amateur carpenter at best and some of my pieces didn't perfectly line up), but I decided I actually kind of preferred all the imperfections since I wanted them to look rustic. If you don't plan to paint your planter, you may want to use wood filler to hide any gaps or seams  so it stains a little easier, or matches your raw wood.

And then, it was time to layer in the distressed finishes. 

You could go in any direction you wanted here. You could just stain them a natural pine color, or go with a slightly deeper stain for a more natural, rustic look. You could paint them any color you want if you wanted them to look a little more fresh and modern. For us, we really liked the way they looked in the original tutorial, so I decided to stain them first to create a layer of dark brown underneath, and then paint them white. They used Dark Walnut by Minwax as a base, but I had a can of Special Walnut laying around, so I just used that. Then after about an hour, I used a cheap, dry brush and applied a flat-finish ceiling paint that was just a standard out-of-the-can Ultra White by Behr. Having a matte finish paint helps the wood to look more worn and distressed, so I would definitely recommend that route if that's the look you're going for. Plus, it dries super fast, which is a plus if this is a quick weekend project for you. 

I used a cheap paint brush to apply the paint because of that rustic look I was going for, and I didn't worry too much about how it looked. I started by only putting a very small amount of paint on my brush and used long strokes to apply it over the stain. I sometimes went in to add more, and sometimes left it pretty thinly applied. If you wanted a more clean or modern finish, you could use a roller and apply two coats of paint over the unfinished wood.

I just did the one light coat of paint and let it sit for 24 hours, and I was happy with how it looked, so I stopped there. And, they were done!

To make two of these planters, I paid $72.11 for all the supplies I had to purchase, which includes all the wood and the white paint (I had the stain, the brushes, and the tools, so you would have to factor in extra for a small can of stain and anything else you may need). That breaks down to $36.05 for each one, plus a few hours of my time. If I had to estimate time (even though I really didn't keep track), I would say for both planters, it took me two and a half hours from start to finish, less any drying time for the stain or paint. That would also include cutting all the wood. 

I got an inexpensive artificial 4ft. tree on Amazon (yay for Prime!), placed it inside, and strung clear lights around them. The tree were sturdy enough that we were able to assemble them and set them on top of the planters, and they didn't sink into them. But if you needed to, you could certainly build a platform inside to elevate whatever you want to put in here, or even a cheap bucket of some sort. I only bought the one to make sure I was happy with it first before buying the other, so now I'm just waiting for the second to arrive. The one I bought can be found here.

If you were inspired to, you could decorate your trees. I almost bought some pinecones for the trees to keep it simple but also add a little something extra, but I decided to rein myself in and just focus on having them natural with the clear lights. But you could of course go all out with some bulb ornaments and ribbons.

Before Christmas, we plan to buy the other tree (obviously), and redo our front door trim,
which we started to do right before I took this picture. 
I can't even tell you how much I love these. I'm so happy the lovely folks at The White Cottage Farm shared their creation with the world, and made it pretty easy to re-create it at home. I plan to use these all year 'round, and fill them with seasonal decorations, so really, they've more than paid for themselves with the use I will get out of them. 


  1. I love them Sam! Thanks for sharing, I always look forward to all your post - wherever it might be!

    What a great idea, i can't wait to have a little house just like you and Josh!

    Shirley mml962

    1. Oh, thank you! Your comments always brighten my day :)

  2. Power Tools are definitely the way to go!! I am looking forward to seeing your house all decked out for the Holidays.

    1. Haha, yes, definitely! Power tools are kind of a must on this one. :)