Make an A-Frame Planter

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A-Frame Planter
A-Frame Planter

Make an A-frame Planter

Ideal for container gardening in a small space, this ladder and platf orm design can fold up and store easily when not in use

By Tim Snyder 

A-Frame Planter

Not everyone has room for a backyard garden. This A-frame planter offers ample space for container gardening in a small (18" × 55") footprint. The frame supports three shelves that have hardware cloth decks for easy drainage. When growing season ends, the A-frame folds up so that the entire unit can store compactly. I made my first version of this project from pressure-treated 5/4 and 1× pine that I bought from a home center. The planter I’m building on these pages is made from clear pine, finished with a solid-color outdoor stain. Cedar and cypress are two other woods to consider for a project like this, because of their natural resistance to insects and moisture damage.

A-Frame Planter

A folding frame with 3 planting platforms

The planter’s structure resembles a step ladder. Identical leg pairs contain 3 rungs, which are through-mortised for strength and appearance. 3 planting platforms are supported on the rungs, fixed in place by bolts that extend into T-nuts. 

A-Frame Planter

Major Construction Steps

1. Rout dadoes in 8 leg pieces (photo below). Then glue leg halves together.

2. Cut legs to length.

3. Cut tenons on rungs, then glue rungs to legs. Hinge leg assemblies together.

4. Assemble shelves, then coat them with exterior finish. Install hardware cloth.

5. Add sides to shelves.

6. Drill holes in frame and shelf sides, then install T-nuts in shelf sides.

7. Protect entire project with exterior finish.

A-Frame Planter

Make shelves designed for drainage

Shelf lengths are shown in the drawing on p. 25. For overall shelf width, subtract 3⁄16" from the distance between legs. Each shelf has a pair of rails connected by a combination of narrow and wide crosspieces. Complete all rail-and-crosspiece assemblies first, and coat them with an outdoor finish. Then install hardware cloth and shelf sides. Once your shelves are complete, you can put them in place on the ladder frame, and drill for bolts and T-nuts.

A-Frame Planter


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