I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like succulents. They’re hearty, resilient, stunningly diverse, and easy to take care of to boot! Recently I was given a large number of succulents and rather than pot them individually spreading them around my home, I wanted to create a sort of succulent garden. My design is a combination of a traditional window box and a living-wall framed planter. I have always adored the huge framed living-wall boxes but knew I’d need to make some modifications for having something like that inside an apartment and even more specifically – a bedroom.
Keeping that in mind, I structured the box to look good simply sitting along my window sill before it was ready to be moved into a standing upright position against a wall once the dirt had settled and the plants took root. I’m fortunate to have fairly deep window sills so I could make the box decently wide allowing me to plant a double row of full grown succulents. If I lived somewhere where I had a backyard with a deck or patio or something, I’d certainly have made this box more in the shape of a standard framed painting as if it were hanging on a wall. Alas, living in the city causes us to make compromises. Despite not looking like a flat piece of artwork to be hung on a wall, this hybrid window box/living wall planter I designed looks good in any scenario. Read along for the ‘how to’ on making this dream succulent garden!
Wood Box: (3-1/2” x 3/4”)
[32.5” (2ct) | 7.5” (2ct)]
Trim/Molding: (1-1/2” x 3/4”)
[31.5” (2ct) | 6.5” (2ct)]
120 Grit Sandpaper | 180 Grit Sandpaper
Wood Stain (Honey)
Foam Brush/Old Rag
Faux Copper Backing
Wood Glue | Saw
Power Drill | Drill Bit Kit | Hammer
1” Black Screws
1-5/8” Black Panel Board Nails
Chicken Wire/Metal Sheet | Shears
Potting Mix | Perlite | Plants
Building the Box
- Cut Wood for Box: 32.5” (2ct) | 7.5” (2ct)
I used reclaimed wood so use whatever works for you. The box honestly doesn’t need to be as deep as I made mine, succulents do not require much soil. I simply used the wood I had so that’s why my box is on the deeper side for a living wall box.
- Cut Wood for Trim: 31.5” (2ct) | 6.5” (2ct)
Any trim/molding will do. The idea is to frame up the box to make it look like a framed picture/painting for when it is upright. Adding this trim also aids in keeping the dirt in place.
- Screw Box Sides Together:
Screw pieces in a rotating butt joint arrangement, pre-drilling holes with a drill bit. Each board should not directly match up with the other of the same length. On each end of the box you’ll see the end-grain of one of the long boards, and the face-grain of one of the short. If you feel inclined for water sealant, use wood glue to seal boards and backing throughout this project, I however did not.
- Cut Stabilizing Wire:
Cut chicken wire to stretch across the top of the box, small enough that the edges do not go over the box’s edges. If you have enough chicken wire, double up the layer to provide better hold for the soil to be added later. Trim pieces added in next step will secure placement. (For this step my photos don’t entirely match my end product. I started with the tin sheet shown in the photos, but later removed the tin because it obscured too much of the dirt making it hard to plant, and I came across a small roll of chicken wire I could use instead which was my original plan but had a hard time finding a small roll for this project.)
- Nail Trim Pieces To Box:
Like the box sides, attach pieces in a rotating butt joint arrangement face-grain down – creating a ‘frame’ around the top of the box. Use nails, as screws will cause this thin trim to break. Before attaching trim, make sure the stabilizing wire is in place between the box and the trim you’re attaching. Once done, the trim should have the wire secured in place.
- Sand: Sand the entire box using 120 & 180 grit sand paper.
- Stain: Stain wood to a color of your choice. I chose Minawax Honey 272
- Cut & Attach Backing: Cut to size your backing of choice and attach with nails. I chose a decorative backing because I wanted the option of having the wall planter box upright in a place where the back might be visible. This way no matter the placement, the box will always look good!
Planting the Succulents
- Perlite: Depending on how deep you made your box effects how much perlite you add. It is important for proper drainage, and seeing as my box is rather deep I put a good inch in mine.
- Potting Mix: Add potting mix, making sure it is plant appropriate for cactus, palm, citrus, etc. Pack tightly as you don’t want dirt to be moving around if you stand it up.
- A little messy photo to show you the behind the scenes work!
- Add Succulents: I say add rather than plant because that really is all you’re doing. The succulents I had didn’t have any roots at all, so I placed them in the arrangement I liked, ensuring that all their bases were in direct contact with the soil in order for them to form roots. Once the roots firmly take hold (1-2 months), you can stand the box upright and display where ever you like!
Upkeep and Maintenance
Succulents are the perfect house plant for any busy person. You can forget about them for an insanely long time and they’ll just keep growing away, not caring. Every 4-6 weeks I fill up a water bottle of water and use it to water the entire box and take a spray bottle to get in the small openings between the succulents the best I can seeing as they are packed tightly. Don’t over water though, this little bit is all they need.
And there you have it! Once you gather all your materials, it’s honestly such a quick weekend project! Stay tuned for more on these succulents as they age; almost certain that at some point in the future I’ll be writing up a little post about how to callus and propagate the succulents so your crop just keeps on growing! They make great little gifts and they’re totally free! Stay tuned!
Let me know what you think of this project in the comments! Happy crafting my friends!