How to Create a DIY Vertical Planter Garden on a Wood Staircase

How to Create a DIY Vertical Planter Garden on a Wood Staircase

Plant enthusiasts often try to fit as many plants as possible into a limited space. When the horizontal space is filled up, the only option is to go up. However, planting vertically comes with its own challenges since different plants require different amounts of sunlight and water. Stacking plants can cause problems such as too much shade, or too much water trickling down into the planter below.

To solve this problem, the staircase planter design was invented. This design uses a stairstep configuration to ensure that each plant gets enough sunlight and doesn’t receive more water than intended. With the right tools, materials, and know-how, you can easily build this planter yourself and maximize the space available in your garden.

Another benefit of this design is that it creates space underneath that you can use for storage. Alternatively, you can place a plant that requires more shade and water than the others, as the planters will partially cover it, and the drainage holes will allow excess water to drip down.

How to build the staircase planter of your dreams


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♬ Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur

Staircase planters can be built in several ways, so you can adapt them to how you see fit. TikTok user @im.ambreon demonstrated how to make zig-zag diagonal cuts on a piece of wood, so when you stand it up, the planters are held upright, and the bottom is slanted. If you choose this method, you’ll need two long pieces of wood, a few small pieces to hold them together, and a tall post in the back to hold up the planter. Measure the pieces so that they’ll fit your planter containers, cut the wood to size, screw or nail the pieces together, and set it in place. Then, place the containers on the planter, fill them with soil, and plant the flora of your choosing.

You can also create this planter by using posts on each level rather than a slanted board, which may be the better route if you want it to support heavy plants. The TikTok planter doesn’t have a plank going across, but you can do so to create an actual staircase look, and it will allow you to hold multiple containers rather than one long one. You can also opt to build planter boxes into the staircase rather than use it as a plant stand.

Customize the planter to fit your garden needs

hanging staircase planter


Be sure to measure before you begin this project, especially if you’re working in a tight space. If you want the planter to hold containers, buy them beforehand so you can measure them or use them as measures as you go. Depending on how sturdy you want the planter to be, you can add as many or as few supports as you’d like. It’s common to use two long plants as supports on either end, but you can add another one or two in the middle if you know you’re going to push the limits.

You can utilize this planter as a storage unit, too. Rather than leaving it empty underneath, use plywood to create an empty cabinet. Use hinges to create a plywood door, or use curtains to cover up the opening. The taller and wider you build your planter, the more available space you’ll have below it.

To be wise about water usage, utilize the stairstep design to create a trickling watering system. Choose planter containers that are deep enough that part of it will be underneath the container above it. The drainage holes will allow water to drip into the next planter. Another way you could do this is to utilize ollas, a self-watering system where you bury terra cotta pots and fill them with water. The water can drip into the olla, and the plants will absorb it.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.