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DIY Wood Slat Privacy Screen with Planters! 

I’m Zoe.
My mission is to teach you to  confidently build magazine-worthy DIYs. I used to be terrified of power tools, which is why I'm a firm believer that ANYONE can DIY.
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This project was sponsored by Cabot. All opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure.

The back of our house has some meters and pipes and serves as the place where we hide our trash cans. The problem? It’s ugly and it can easily be seen from our DIY patio.

The solution? Hide it all with a pretty DIY wood slat privacy screen! Then take it up a notch and add a huge planter to it. The ugly corner then transforms into a beautiful feature. 

DIY wood slat privacy screen with planter

Let’s start DIYing! 

P.S. We also have plans for matching planters without the privacy screen!

Recommended Tools: 

  • Drill 
  • Nail Gun 
  • Staple Gun 
  • Miter Saw 
  • Circular Saw 
  • Table Saw 
  • Kreg Jig 

What You’ll Need: 

Quantities may vary based on the size of your structure. Here’s what we used for our 8ft wide and 74” tall privacy screen: 

How to Build a Wood Slat Wall with Planters

STEP 1: POSITION YOUR 4×4 POSTS 

Before digging your posts, call 811 to have someone come mark any cables that might be close to your digging area. You don’t want to accidentally cut a line to something important! 

Dig two holes that are approximately 12” wide and 24” deep for your 4×4 posts. If you are using posts that are larger than 8’ tall, look up the standard practice for your particular-sized post. 

Once dug, add a small layer of rock to the bottom of the hole. This will help prevent the post from rotting since the post won’t be in direct contact with the wet soil.

Check to see if the posts are level and straight. We put a 2×4 on top of both the posts and then placed the level on it to see how lined up the posts were. If one post is higher than the other, add or take away rock from one of the holes. 

Once it’s looking pretty even, pour two to three bags of Quickcrete into each of the holes. Check again to make sure that the posts are level and straight. 

checking to see if 4x4 post is level

Once you’re happy with the 4×4 placement, add water to the Quickcrete and let it dry. 

spraying water on quick-crete to secure the 4x4 post

Note: From outside edge to outside edge, our posts were 94.5” wide. If possible, you don’t want yours to be any wider than this or you’ll need to buy 10’ boards to make everything work. Ours was as wide as possible while still being able to use 8’ boards on the planter and horizontal slats. 

STEP 2: CUT DOWN YOUR HORIZONTAL SLATS 

Even though we won’t be using the slats until a bit later in the project, you’ll want to cut them down early so that they are ready and can continue to dry out. Oftentimes, pressure-treated lumber is a bit damp when you buy it, so you need to let it dry out before staining or assembling anything. 

Using the table saw, we cut each 1×4 into (2) 1.5” wide pieces. 

ripping 1x4 on table saw

STEP 3: MAKE PLANTER BASE 

Planter Build Step 1: Cut 2x4s to Size 

You want the planter box to be the same width as the posts you positioned in step 1. Our distance was 94.5”. 

Here are the cuts we made to make our overall planter box 94.5” wide x 24” tall x 15” deep.

(4) – 94.5”

(9) – 12”

(10) – 17”

You can also cut down your 5/4 x 6 boards to 94.5”.

Planter Build Step 2: Drill Pocket Holes 

Using the 1.5” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on either end of the 12” and 17” boards. 

Planter Build Step 3: Assemble the Front and Back 

The front and back are identical structures. Each one consists of (2) 94.5” pieces and (5) 17” pieces

Use glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws to assemble. A 17” piece should be flush with either end of the 94.5” pieces. The remaining pieces should have 19.25” between them. 

front of planter box frame assembled

Planter Build Step 4: Attach the Sides and Middle Supports to the Front 

The planter box appears to be 24” tall, but we only want about 12-14” of that to be filled with drainage rocks and dirt. To accomplish this, we’re going to add middle support boards to divide the structure. 

Decide how deep you want your planter to be and then add 1”. Cut a scrap piece of wood down to that size to act as a spacer. 

using scrap wood to guide spacing of 2x4

Use glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws to attach the middle supports to the 17” pieces. Line the scrap piece up with the top of the front to give you consistent spacing without needing to measure. 

Attach (2) 17″ pieces to either end to create the sides of the planter.

assembling 2x4 structure

Planter Build Step 5: Attach the Back 

Now line the back up with the side and middle support boards. Secure with glue and 2.5” exterior Kreg screws.

2x4 planter structure assembled
Note: the planter box is sitting on its back in the photo above.

Place your planter aside for now. We’ll come back to it after we stain.

STEP 4: SAND YOUR WOOD 

For exterior projects, I generally do a quick sand with 120 grit sandpaper to make sure everything is nice and smooth and free from splinters. 

STEP 5: STAIN YOUR WOOD 

We’re using Cabot Semi-Solid Stain and Sealer on this project. You get great protection in just one coat. Durability depends on weather and other factors, but we shouldn’t have to re-apply for 5-10 years!

The semi-solid is also a super unique finish. It’s more opaque than a traditional stain, but isn’t fully solid like paint or a solid stain. The grain and uniqueness of each wood piece still gets to subtly shine through!

To apply, we used our Cabot staining pad. The staining pad is made for deck boards, but it works great for this project as well. The handle of the staining pad is also pretty neat–you can adjust the angle to your liking and then lock it into place! 

staining 4x4 posts with cabot semi-solid stain in black

For the slats, we didn’t worry about staining the end grains just yet. We’re going to cut boards down after staining, so there’s no need to worry about them now. 

Between staining the entire structure and all of the slats, we used up a little less than half of the gallon of stain. This stuff goes a long way! 

STEP 6: LINE THE PLANTER BOX

Once your stain is dry, secure the 5/4×6 boards to the top of the middle supports using glue and 2” nails. Leave a gap between the two boards. 

nailing 5/4" boards to planter box faux bottom

Then cut your tarp aka construction film to the size you need to line the inside of your planter. Normal scissors might have trouble cutting through it. We used our PowerCut Snips to make our cuts. 

Secure the tarp with staples around the inside of the planter. 

stapling tarp to inside of planter box

Once secured, cut a few holes in the bottom of the tarp (line them up with the gap between the two boards) for drainage. 

Note: after installing all the slats, we also decided to line the bottom of the front of the planter. There were only a few slats you could see between in the planter, so we lined the bottom so that the whole planter was black and no light shined through. It’d be much easier to line now instead of later! 

STEP 7: ATTACH PLANTER BOX TO POSTS 

Note: if your structure is close to a wall like ours, you might want to attach the side slats of the planter before securing the planter box to the posts.

Lay down some landscape fabric between the 4×4 posts to prevent weeds from growing beneath and around the planter. We cut ours to be about a foot deeper than the planter box, so that we could put some Mexican pebbles directly in front of the planter once finished. They look pretty and prevent us from having to weed wack around the planter wall. 

To attach the planter box, make sure it is level and then secure with 2.5” screws into the 4×4 posts.

securing planter box structure to 4x4 post with screws

STEP 8: ADD A VERTICAL SUPPORT BOARD 

Some of our 1×2 slats are warped, so we’re going to add in a vertical support board halfway between the posts. Cut a 2×4 to be the same height as the 4×4 posts. 

adding 2x4 support board to back of planter box

Secure to the center of the back of the planter with 2.5” screws. 

STEP 9: ATTACH SLATS TO POSTS 

We ended up cutting our slats down after hanging them up. It seemed like a great idea in theory and it mostly was, but it did require the use of a multi-tool and a circular saw. The planter got in the way of the circular saw on the bottom 3 slats, so we had to use the multi-tool there instead. 

If you aren’t comfortable with a circular saw or don’t have a multi-tool, no problem, you can cut your slats on the miter saw before hanging them up.

The reason we chose to cut them after was to save time and because the 4×4 posts tend to vary in their sizing. If you cut all your boards prior to hanging them, be sure to measure in multiple places. You might find that you need some boards to be ¼” shorter or longer.

To attach the slats, we’ll use construction adhesive and 2” nails. First clamp a spare board onto the side of one of the 4×4 posts. This will act as a stop to quickly keep all of your slats lined up on one side. 

Next grab something that is ½” to act as a spacer. We used a scrap piece of wood.

To install, line your slat up with the side of the 4×4 post and apply construction adhesive to the slats in the areas that will touch the 2×4 and 4×4 boards. 

applying clear construction adhesive to back of slats

Install your top piece flush with the top of the 4×4 posts and the vertical 2×4 support. 

For the remaining slats, place your spacer between the previously secured board and the board you’re installing. Press up on the board you’re installing to make sure there isn’t an additional space and then add 2 nails into each of the posts. Alternate angles of your nail gun for a more secure hold.

nailing slat on with scrap wood being used as a spacer

Repeat this process until you reach the top of the planter.

Once you’re finished installing the slats, mark where the slats meet the edge of the 4×4 post. Adjust your circular saw so that it only cuts through the thickness of the slats and then cut along your line. 

cutting off excess slats from privacy screen

STEP 10: ATTACH SLATS TO THE PLANTER 

Cut your slats down for the sides of the planters. We had our slats go from the front of the planter to the back of the 4×4 posts, making ours approximately 18.5” long.

We clamped a spare board to our miter saw stand to create a stop. This allowed us to quickly and accurately cut down each piece without needing to measure each board.

using stop to cut wood slats on miter saw

Once you have your pieces cut, clamp a spare board to the front of the planter to keep everything lined up and then construction adhesive and nail the slats into place. Use a ½” spacer like we did on the slat wall. 

Finally, attach the slats to the front of the planter using construction adhesive and nails. Our front slats ended up needing to be 8’ long, so we didn’t have to cut the boards down. 

STEP 11: TOUCH UP STAIN

Since we cut some boards after staining, we need to stain the ends that were cut. I used a clean rag for this.

staining end grains with Cabot semi-solid stain

There you have it! Now all you need are some beautiful plants to complete your new wood slat privacy screen and planter! As you’re picking them out, don’t forget about the climbing plants. The slat wall doubles as a privacy maker and a trellis.

P.S. If you’re using this to block trash cans, I’d recommend reducing the amount of space between your boards to 1/3 or 1/4″ instead of 1/2″.

black wood slat privacy screen with planter
front view of black wood slat privacy screen with large planter
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