Lining & holes for planter/boxes

Discussion in 'Container Gardening' started by ewicc, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. ewicc

    ewicc Apprentice Gardener

    Apr 6, 2021
    Hi there,

    I have built some wooden planters for my partner, I now need to know what is the best material to use to line the wooden boxes, do I need to put some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage of water, put sand or stone/pebbles at the bottom before putting in the soil?
    Also how many and what size hole(s) do I need to put at the bottom of the boxes?
    If it makes any difference 3 boxes will be used for growing herbs and alike. The 4th one is a raised one which will be in a shady area/lower light and shady/low light plants will be planted in that one.
    Thanks in advance guys :)
  2. misterQ

    misterQ Super Gardener

    Aug 25, 2015
    Stamford Hill, London N16 6RU
    Here is a self-contained pallet wood planter I built in 2015 (picture from same year).


    It is still in good condition and I have just sown this year's carrot crop into it.

    I have made a couple of other pallet wood planters and have found that the best liner to use is heavy duty landscape fabric, sometimes called weed membrane - the wooven kind that looks like tarpaulin.

    This porus fabric is made from polypropylene with added UV inhibitors. The two "safe" plastics you should only use in the garden are polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE).

    Unlined, the planters would last about three years. Whereas lined planters are lasting 5+ years.

    The next best liners are compost bags: just cut them apart and staple them into place with overlapping joins. Be sure to puncture holes in the liner base for drainage.

    The worst is light/medium weight spunbond weed membrane. The cheap versions contain no UV inhibitors (despite claiming otherwise) and will degrade within two years. The fabric will then fall to bits and get mixed in with your compost.

    When I constructed my planters, I made sure to put the thickest planks of pallet wood at the base and I also made sure that I left about 5-10mm gaps between planks for drainage. I then lined the interior, including the base, of the planters.

    If you did not do this then you will need to drill holes into the wood for drainage. Do so in a staggered pattern so that the wood will not be weakened along the grain.

    Make inserts out of small sections of hose pipe if you want to absolutely minimise water contact with the wooden base.

    If the drainage holes are small and many (like in my planter above) then no drainage layer of crocks, gravel, sand or pebbles is needed.
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