Tree Stump Planter: Super Easy Tutorial

As I mentioned on Monday, the patio is moving along at a nice clip.  The only two things that were remaining was installation of lights and making a decorative planter.

Well yesterday I knocked one of those off the list….can you guess which one (for a hint look at the title….)?  So using a tree stump that Scruffy found (yes my dog has an uncanny eye for design if you also include the mirror he found) I was able to create this……

And this is how I did it……

As I mentioned, Scruffy found this great tree trunk on one of our afternoon walks that was marked “FREE – PLEASE TAKE”.

Immediately on seeing the piece, I knew it had potential as a table.  The organic form and interesting knot hole put me in the mind of burled wood.  However, I knew that I had no place for such a piece in my home, but outside it could make the perfect side table.  So I hightailed it home, got my truck and snagged the piece I had seen on the walk. SCORE!  Total Cost: $0

I inspected the piece when I got home and saw that it was pretty much dried out with a majority of the bark coming off easily.  Using a hammer, I simply knocked off the remaining bark and cleaned out the knot hole.  And then it sat for a week as I tried to figure out what to do with it. I tossed around some ideas and finally decided on a planter rather than a table. because I had an area on the patio that was barren.  It was initially going to hold a small sculpture but that plan was scrapped, so the planter was the perfect alternative.  It provided a place to house more plants plus added an organic form to what was becoming a rather grid heavy patio.

So set with a plan, I started to work.  From start to finish, this project took me about 30-45 minutes.  As I mentioned, I had previously cleaned the stump and the knot hole.  However, upon cleaning the knot hole, its bottom came out, so I needed to find a way to hold the soil in.  After a quick scan of the garage, I settled on using the plastic netting that previously packaged my decorative rocks.  The netting is strong, flexible, water can easily flow through it and non-biodegradeable.  So with a few staples, I attached the netting to the tree….

I wanted to elevate the stump from the ground not only for esthetic reasons, but also because I didn’t want the wood sitting on mulch creating a damp playground for who knows what.  So I turned to Ikea and their Besta legs – a pack of 2 plastic legs runs $5.  I had the option to go with the more sleek shiny metal legs, but at double the price and the fact that in my design, the legs weren’t going to be seen I opted to go the cheap route.

I used a Sharpie to draw on the stump where I wanted the legs,  With an 7/32 drill bit, I eyed the center of each leg and drilled a pilot hole for the screw.  I then followed with a 1/4 bit with a flared head which was the perfect size for the screw.  With a little pressure, the legs were screwed in….

Total cost of legs: $10 + tax.

Flipping the  stump over, I added a layer of moss over the netting to stop soil erosion since the netting holes are large.  The moss also helps regulate moisture, so it’s an added bonus.  Tally for netting and moss: $0 (already owned the moss from the terrarium project).

Now with the stump upright, I did a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it down with damp rag.  I then rubbed the top of the trunk with tung oil to bring out the wood’s color and help protect it from the elements.  I initially thought about putting a coat of poly on it, but it didn’t look right when I tested it on the underside.  It looked too shiny and manufactured.  The tung oil turned the wood a deep dark brown and brought out a natural glow – perfect for a modern rustic planter in my book.

I applied three coats of the oil in rapid succession – the pic above is after one coat.  Total cost for tung oil – $0 (I use the oil on the patio furniture so I already owned it).

With the stump all oiled up (gosh – I never thought I would utter a phrase that could have such a double meaning…) I got to work on the plants.  I decided to stick with my beloved succulents for 3 reasons — (1) succulents come in a variety of sizes, textures and colors, that could look great against the color and form of the planter, (2) they don’t need alot of water which is perfect when dealing with a planter made of organic material and (3) I haven’t killed any yet so why ruin a good streak.  Oh there is a fourth reason too – since I wanted the planter to have impact year round, succulents were a perfect option since even in the winter, they are alive.  I chose two plants to fill the knot hole – Blushing Beauty and String of Pearls. 

The String of Pearls provides visual interest and a nice trailing factor while the Blushing Beauty provides texture and color since it will turn shades of cream, green and red as the season changes.  Total tally: $15 for the two plants at Home Depot.

And there you have it.  The actual execution was quite simple and easy.  The hard part is waiting for the wood to try out and cleaning it off.  Other than that, it was smooth sailing.  But here is the planter in its home on the patio…..

Now for the grand total for this project: $20 – Yup folks, I spent a grand total of $20 on this project thanks in large part that I already owned many of the items I needed and I found the tree stump for free.  However, if you had to purchase everything (including the stump) the project would run you about $45-$50. 

And then there was one — the final project for the patio is lighting.  I am hoping to finish that by the end of the month.  As usual, I will let you know how it all goes!

PS: You can see the stages of the patio renovation here, here and here.

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10 thoughts on “Tree Stump Planter: Super Easy Tutorial

  1. Cool! What a wonderful idea! You are very creative. I have a few of stumps that I received from my neighbor’s yard, so this idea is going to be very handy. Thanks for sharing!

    • I love getting free stuff from my neighbors! One neighbor has an amazing garden so I always get fruit and flowers. If you have several of them, I would totally group them together to make a vignette of beautiful stumps with ferns and annuals in them. It could be really dramatic!

  2. Love it – we’ve got a big tree that’s becoming a hazard, if we cut it down we’ll try and save a stump to do this!

  3. Yea! Just found your blog while researching. Love succulents and had never seen the string of pearls. I’ve had a vision of a piece of driftwood with succulents on it for a long time. I found the perfect piece of driftwood at the beach in San Gregorio yesterday. Headed to the nursery to see if I can find the pearls so I can have fun over the weekend.

    • I love string of pearl succulents — just be forewarned that they are a bit fragile so take care when replanting. Additionally – they like bright filtered sun I have found out, otherwise they wilt a little.

  4. Pingback: Tree Stump Planter

  5. Pingback: Small Patio Decorating Ideas by Courtney of Courtney Out Loud - Home Improvement Blog – The Apron by The Home Depot

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