3-Tier Terra-cotta Planter – Part 1

One of the things I knew I wanted to do soon after we moved in (and before it got too cold) was to build this planter. It’s too late to plant any seeds, but I have a few seasonal ideas to keep this planter useful in the fall and winter months (filled with straw for fall, and snow for winter?). I originally got the inspiration from a Better Homes & Gardens book, then soon realized that there are a few blog-style tutorials already in existence on the internet. To make this afternoon project a little more interesting, and to avoid copying anyone’s work, I followed the basic paragraph instructions in the book with a few changed details.

Here’s what I started with:

  • 3 terra-cotta planters; one large, one medium, one small
  • 1 large terra-cotta tray
  • 2 plastic pots (read on for sizes)
  • Half gallon of outdoor paint in desired color
  • Paint brush
  • Painter’s tape (I used FrogTape)
  • Drill and drill bit

20140906_121510 20140906_132134

I decided that I would like the planters to match the trim of the house, and luckily for me I found some left-over outdoor paint in the basement that matched exactly. My pots needed to be wiped down with a damp cloth since they had some dust and cobwebs inside them. Since plants will be growing inside, I marked off around the inside rim of the pots to only paint about an inch down. The soil and plants will cover up the inside anyway.


My next step involved the plastic pots. My book recommended using terra-cotta pots for this step, but I don’t think that’s necessary. After painting, the plastic pots will be inverted inside the large and medium sized t.c. pots to create a stand for the medium and small t.c. pots. Therefore, the pots should be large enough to fit snuggly inside and be sturdy enough to support the pots they’re holding up. Before I painted, I drilled holes into the plastic to create a drainage system. As you can see, I made several holes in the top and around the sides. These pots should not be painted since they’ll be right next to the soil.


Now for the fun part – the paint! The nice thing about outdoor paint and terra-cotta is that it dries FAST. As soon as I had painted one coat of each, I was ready for the second coat. I would recommend three coats to make sure you’ve covered your bases. Also, since they’ll be outside and subject to a Midwestern climate, I figured I better play it safe.


I waited about an hour to assemble all the pieces and add soil……… then voila! I didn’t have enough soil to totally fill it, but you get the idea.


This project is not finished though – stay tuned for part 2 where I customize it!

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