From wrecked end table to rad planter

June 26 | Guest post by Amy Watkins

I found this two-drawer end table next to the dumpsters at our apartment complex. It's a cute little piece of furniture, solid and wooden — not particle board — and as soon as I saw it, I thought, "plant shelf!" I carried it to the back porch, and there it sat for three weeks getting even more water-damaged and wrecked (darn real job getting in the way of making cool things).


By the time I got around to working on it, the top of the table had warped and bubbled up on one end. I thought it might be a lost cause, but I slathered on some wood glue and clamped it down with welding clamps (you could use any kind of clamps, of course, or a handy cinder block might work in a pinch).

welding clamps + wood glue

After letting the glue dry for 24 hours and sanding off as much of the old paint as possible, I painted the shelf, inside and out, with a semi gloss exterior paint. This color is called "Tropical Blossom."

Supports, wood-glued in
I bought a quart of paint, but only used about half that amount.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but I had another idea: it's not a plant shelf, it's a planter!

Shallow-rooted plantsI drilled a few holes in the bottoms of the drawers for drainage then painted the insides of the drawers with several coats of exterior paint, making sure to coat but not fill in the holes. I then used more wood glue to secure wooden supports for the drawers, one pulled all the way out and the other about half open.

DSC01243I filled the drawers with dirt and planted some plants with fairly shallow roots near the fronts of the drawers. Time will tell how it holds up to the elements, but for now it really brightens up the back porch!


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  1. I like the pink! It turned out great.
    I would love to do this with an end table and paint it an orange.

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  2. If you were patient enough, I bet you could do strawberries in to top drawer, and when they spilled out make sure they took root in the bottom drawer, and let them hang out around the drawers and be super awesome. If say someone else was doing this, or you needed new plants sometime. They also comeback every year.

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    • A pink drawer that grows strawberries would be SO cool, it would be the end of me.

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    • Whether they come back every year or not probably depends on your climate. If your winters are too harsh, the roots would probably freeze and die in a planter like that.

      • My aunt in Helena mt has strawberries in a similarly shallow and exposed planter and doesn't have any problems. She might put them under a tarp so the snow doesn't crush them though.

      • Luckily, the whole shebang is pretty light and easily moved around. If you did this with a similar-sized table, I'm sure you could carry it inside if it got too cold.

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  3. Years ago, I saw a piano being used as a planter on Ward's Island in Toronto.

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  4. Fantastic! It makes me want to go wandering around dumpsters to find cool planter ideas.

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