A handsome deck rail will keep you safe and delineate the border between your deck and garden. In order to soften its lines and bring your flowers or plants closer to view, you might consider installing planters along the deck railing. A modest project for the enthusiastic DIYer, building your own wooden deck rail planters will add a satisfying and useful element to your garden.
One method of building deck rail planters places the planter itself directly on top of the railing's upper edge. If you have broad and sturdy railings, this design may work for you. You can refer to a number of plans for dimensions and building advice for planters that sit atop the railing. ExtremeHowTo.com offers a free, basic plan for an over-rail planter. It recommends designing the flower box 1/2 inch wider than the railing itself, with the flower box's sides hanging down over the railing by a of couple inches. This helps to lower the box's center-of-gravity. RunnerDuck.com provides a similar plan that you can make from scrap cedar planks. WoodStore.net also offers plans for over-rail planters with decorative slatted sides. Their plans are available as PDF files for $3, as of September 2010.
Instead of mounting your planter directly atop the railing, hanging designs such as the decorative nautical planter from WoodworkersWorkshop.com use mounting brackets to hang along one side of the rail. The nautically inspired "half boat" planter has a unique rounded shape, like the hull of the boat. Plans sell for $11.99 and additional tracing paper plans cost $8.95, as of September 2010. One advantage of a hanging deck rail planter is its water runoff; unlike an over-rail design, any excess water will not pool on your railing. ExtremeHowTo offers a simple hanging planter plan, similar to its over-rail design, but requires metal hanging brackets and lacks the low-hanging sides.
In essence, a hanging deck rail planter is highly similar to a windowsill planter. It simply differs in the mounting mechanism. Whereas a typical window-box planter may affix to the window sill with screws or other drilled fixtures, a deck rail planter can mount by wrapping all the way around the railing. For a broader range of designs, consider following the plans for a basic window-box planter and simply adapt the mounting structure to your deck railing. Find a set of deck rail brackets that fit snugly. Georgia-based retailer Flower Window Boxes offers brackets to fit 2-by-4, 2-by-6 or 2-by-8 lumber. Combine the brackets with a window-box design to your tastes, such as the Window Boxes Woodworking Plan from Woodworker's Workshop, which uses carved cut-outs of tulips and scalloped edges for a decorative effect.
- Photo Credit Flowers at balcony image by TekinT from Fotolia.com
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