Creating a Rustic Log Planter

Creating a Rustic Log Planter

When we think of the Adirondacks we think of deep forest, rustic cabins and furniture. The Adirondack style celebrates the honesty of all-natural, local materials such as wood, twig, stone, and bark. Adirondack furniture typically uses every bit of the tree, from root and burl to bark and branch, with amazing and beautiful results. Embracing this concept in our gardens, we can find new uses for a fallen trees, branches, or stumps by creating a log planter.


  • 18-24″ log (in good condition and able to stand or lay stably)
  • Plastic plant pot for insert
  • sharpie or pencil for marking
  • potting soil
  • assorted woodland plants
  • water-sealing varnish (optional)
  • Sandpaper


  • safety goggles
  • drill (preferably corded drill)
  • Forstener bit(s) (1″ for most medium-duty drills; larger/smaller for more/less powerful drills)
  • Short bit extension (4″)
  • Long drill bit for drainage holes
  • chisel or gouge and hammer

1. Select a log about 18-24″ tall for your planter, and position it so that it rests stably without rolling.
2. Outline the opening for your planter by tracing the edge of your container onto the log.
3. Determine the desired depth of your planter and mark the depth on your Forstener bit with a piece of tape (using the bit extension, as needed).
4. Put on your safety glasses and then begin to drill a series of closely placed holes (to the tape mark), first along the perimeter and then throughout the remaining section, removing the bulk of the wood. Don’t overwork your drill by using more than moderate pressure while drilling. Also, for safety, it’s important to check the speed ratings of Forstener bits and don’t exceed them.
5. Use a chisel or gouge to remove the remaining wood, and clean out the cavity.
6. Using a long drill bit, create a few drainage holes running through the entire length of the log.
7. If you want a bare wood look, remove the bark carefully with a sharp chisel or utility knife. Sand the exterior lightly and then coat all the open dry wood with varnish (deck seal, polyurethane, or epoxy).
8. Plant the insert-pot as you would any other planter, although you may want to choose forest plants to continue the Adirondack theme, and place in log.
9. Let your planter weather naturally, or consider resealing every few seasons to extend its lifetime.

The excerpt above is from a Cultivating Life segment produced by Erin Frost. Cultivating Life with host Sean Coneway, explored how we’ve all moved out of our houses and into our backyards. Each week, the show celebrated how Americans are reconnecting to the land.