Anne-Marie Johnson's DIY Log Planter with Summer Annual Flowers

What's the benefit to using a log as a planter?
Logs absorb water and can help feed your flowers. They are also a natural part of the ecosystem. This ensures that when you are done with your planter, you won't be contributing to a landfill. You can even use your planter for future compost!
If we don't have a fallen tree from which to source a log, where can we find one?
Contact your local firewood place, garden centers, lumberyards, or even a tree cutting service.
What size log should we be looking for?
Ours is about 4' long and 8" wide. Your log can be as small or as large as you want. Just keep in mind the log's weight. You have to be able to carry it home and into the space you want your planter. Our 4' log is about 80 pounds. Keep in mind that the larger the log, the bigger the job!
Does the type of tree matter?
Ours is a desert tree common to Southern California. Some woods are harder than others. As long as you are fine putting the elbow grease into hollowing out the harder woods, you can use any kind you like.
How do we hollow out our log?

  1. If you have a log that has fallen naturally and has already begun to break down, it will be soft enough that hollowing out the log will prove far easier. A garden trowel or a wood chisel should do.
  2. However, should you need to buy a log, cut the parameter of the opening of your log planter with a Reciprocal Saw, leaving 4 inches of wood at each end.
  3. Within the parameter, cut grooves into the width of the log so as to make removing the wood easier.
  4. With a wood chisel and a hammer, create a well for the garden, leaving about 4 inches of wood in the bottom of the log.

What soil should we use?
Use sterile potting soil. The soil is pasteurized. That means that heat is used to kill any possible active weed seeds, insects, or disease organisms that might be in the soil, without affecting the nutrients in the soil.
How much soil should we use?
You want to plant your flowers 4 inches deep from the top of the log. So, fill the log with soil until you hit the 4-inch mark from the top of the log, stick your flowers in, and then fill in around it with the rest of the soil.
Why use annual flowers?
Perennials are great in that they will come back year after year. If you take care of them, you won't have to keep replanting. But, if you want a different variety of flowers that reflect the time of year, you go for annuals. When the log rots, you won't have to replant a perennial. The log and the flowers will re-fertilize the earth!
How do we choose our summer annuals?
You need to buy flowers that will grow well in your climate. The National Garden Association has a website where you can enter your zip code to find out what flowers will do well in your log planter. It's called

How do we take care of our summer annuals?
It depends on the flowers you choose. Learn what your particular flowers need and observe a regular maintenance schedule. When the seasons change, change your flowers out! Your garden will always perfectly reflect the season!
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