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How to Make a Tree Stump Planter: Outlined Steps (2023)

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how to make a tree stump planterInstead of seeing that tree stump as an eyesore, why not give it new life as a quaint planter? Let your inner gardener blossom by carving out a cozy nook, filling it with rich soil, and planting an array of vibrant greenery.

With a few simple tools and a dash of imagination, you can transform a humble stump into a whimsical garden feature. Follow each step carefully, donning protective eyewear and sturdy gloves, as you chip away with an axe and drill in hand.

Add drainage holes before filling with potting mix, then nestle in your favorite flowers or herbs. Nurture the plants with attentive watering and watch your stump planter flourish. Soon, that unsightly remnant will become a charming highlight that makes your yard pop.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a rot-resistant stump that is 18-24 inches tall.
  • Use a hammer drill and chisel to create a center hole and smooth grooves and edges.
  • Add a layer of gravel for drainage and fill the planter with enriched potting soil.
  • Maintain the tree stump planter by swapping plants, treating the interior to prevent rot, and checking soil moisture frequently.

Materials Needed

Materials Needed
Pick up a hammer drill and forstner bit to start hollowing that stump into your next garden gem. You’ll need a sturdy hammer drill and sharp forstner bits to efficiently hollow out the center of your chosen stump.

Oak, cedar, and pine make great planter candidates thanks to their natural rot resistance. Mark and drill out a circle the size you want inside, angling downward for drainage. Chisel the hole edges smooth with a quality set of wood chisels. Pine is easiest to hollow while oak requires patience.

Finish the outside with decorative carving or a natural look. Gently separate plant roots and add rich soil amended with compost before planting. Your upcycled stump planter is sure to become a creative focal point. Use it to display shade perennials, annuals, or trailing veggies in a distinctive way.

With the right tools, technique, and imagination, you can transform an ugly old tree stump into a beautiful living planter.

Pick Out Your Stump

Pick Out Your Stump
The next step is picking out the perfect stump for your planter. Take a walk through your garden or backyard and scout for stumps with character – ones with natural hollows, grooves, or an irregular shape.

Look for stumps of trees that provided food and shelter for wildlife like oaks, maples, and fruit trees. Their remains can nourish your garden too. Make sure to pick a stump that is not diseased but still solid, at least 18-24 inches tall.

Use a forstner bit to drill out the center and a hammer drill for hollowing. The end result will be a photogenic, organic planter to display native plants and seasonal blooms.

Mark the Hole

Mark the Hole
After circling the stump’s center, trace your desired shape and size, leaving some space at the edges. Creating a stump planter provides trendy photo ops that are shareable on social media.

Liven up your outdoor space with a living work of art, perfect for fresh dinner hosting or cool fairy gardens. Get creative with seasonal decor swaps of plants and flowers planted in a mix of potting soil and wood shavings.

Let your inner horticulturist run wild; this DIY garden project allows you to shape a unique container that highlights your plants in a rustic-chic style.

Customize sizes for single statement plants or make one large enough to design a whole miniature garden scene right in your yard. However you hollow it out, this upcycled planter is sure to inspire you to create.

Begin to Drill Out the Hole

Begin to Drill Out the Hole
Dig in with that drill and let the wood chips fly, unleashing your inner sculptor as you hollow out this earthen canvas. Carefully drill overlapping holes with a Forstner bit to carve away the center, leaving a 2 border.

Use a hammer drill for dense wood or predrill with a smaller bit first. Switch to a mattock and chisel to refine the edges and shape.

  1. Mark the drilling area.
  2. Use a Forstner bit.
  3. Smooth the edges.

With each twist of the drill and strike of the chisel, you move closer to unveiling the potential held within this earthen sculpture. Soon, it will burst forth with flora, drawing beauty from the decay. But for now, unleash your creativity through wood and earth as you transform a simple stump into a splendid planter.

Use a ⅜” Bit to Loosen the Wood

Use a ⅜” Bit to Loosen the Wood
Breathe deep as that 3/8 bit gnaws into the resistant wood, releasing tension and making space for new growth. Feel the vibrations surge up your arms as you drill, letting the bit do its work.

Patience and persistence pay off as the hole takes shape. Soon, fragrant herbs and brilliant flowers will emerge from this weathered stump, attracting pollinators and delighting kids who helped hollow it out.

They’ll look at this planter with pride each time they pass it in the garden, remembering the satisfying sound of drilling and carving. Though it took strength and care to transform this stubborn stump, the end result is worth it.

Your creation will draw life to this space for years to come.

Clean Up the Carved Edges

Clean Up the Carved Edges
You’ll want to smooth the grooves left by the drill using a chisel before moving on. Work slowly and carefully, placing the beveled edge of the chisel into each hole and applying force straight down to deepen the grooves.

For larger grooves, use the heavy end of a mattock. Take your time to get a smooth surface, as this will give you the best look when a stain is applied later. Consider using an electric handheld sander with a grinding attachment for the final smoothing.

The result will be a clean canvas ready for drainage holes, soil, plants, and mulch to create your artistic new garden focal point.

Add Soil and Plants

Add Soil and Plants
After carving out the stump, gently break up the plant’s roots before placing it in the hole and filling it with a soil mix, so it won’t be shocked and will establish itself quickly.

  1. Add a 2-3 layer of gravel in the bottom for drainage.
  2. Fill 1/3 of the planter with compost-enriched potting soil to provide nutrients.
  3. Gently loosen the root ball of the plant before placing it in the hole.
  4. Top off with more potting mix, firming the soil around the plant.

For ongoing care, be sure to water thoroughly after planting. Over time, refresh the soil and swap out plantings to keep your stump planter lively.

Water and Enjoy

Water and Enjoy
After adding soil and plants, it’s time to water and enjoy your new tree stump planter. Go ahead and give your plants a good soak right after planting to help settle the roots and soil.

Check drainage by pouring water into the planter and making sure it seeps out the holes in the bottom within a few minutes.

As the seasons change, have fun swapping out plantings for varieties that thrive in spring, summer, fall, or winter. Consider adding a small water feature like a mini pond or fountain for visual appeal.

Use wood chips, pine needles, gravel, or moss as mulch alternatives to help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Your whimsical stump planter will soon attract birds, butterflies, and more wildlife to your garden.

Relax on the patio and enjoy watching your unexpected planter come to life!

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making a Tree Stump Planter

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making a Tree Stump Planter
Battling tree roots once planted takes grit and a good set of pruning shears. Start by choosing a stump with a flat bottom so it sits upright stably. Mark the center point and outline the desired shape and size for your planter, leaving a 3 border.

Use a forstner drill bit to bore out the inner circle. Chip away the remaining wood with a chisel and mattock to smooth and expand the hole.

Add drainage by drilling angled holes from the base. Fill the bottom with 2 of gravel, then a mix of compost and potting soil. Gently loosen the plant’s roots before placing them in the soil. Water well after planting.

Swapping plants seasonally prevents overgrowth of tree roots. Stump planters allow for creativity in garden design.

More Creative Tree Stump Ideas

More Creative Tree Stump Ideas
Y’all wouldn’t have guessed how inventive folks get with repurposing tree stumps into whimsical planters and yard art after carving them out. From rustic chairs to fairy gardens, stumps make imaginative planting aids. Swapping florals with the seasons, minding moisture and pests – it takes some seasonal care.

But a stump’s natural charm just adds to creative designs. Maybe turn it into a critter with moss and stones. Or go minimalist with a single bloom. Getting creative with repurposed stumps makes the yard into a living work of art.

With mindful plant, pest, and moisture care – the possibilities are endless for repurposed stumps.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for a tree stump to rot naturally before I can make it into a planter?

I hear you, the wait can feel frustrating when eager to upcycle. Yet, patience pays; letting nature take its course expedites digging out decayed wood. Consider 3-5 years as the average for softwoods like pine. Dense hardwoods like oak may need double the time.

Should I treat the inside of the stump with anything before filling it with soil?

Treat the interior with a fungicide before planting to prevent rot. Then line it with landscape fabric to prevent soil loss.

What types of plants work best in a stump planter?

You’ll want to pick small plants that can thrive in the confined space inside a stump. Good options are succulents, herbs, or annual flowers. Avoid large perennials or bushes. Focus on drought-tolerant varieties that need minimal watering and soil amendments.

How often do I need to water a stump planter?

You’ll need to check the moisture level frequently and water as needed to keep the soil consistently moist but not soaked. The plant type, drainage, sun exposure, and climate will all impact frequency. Test with your finger and water when the top inch is dry.

Will making a stump planter attract termites or other pests?

You bet, transforming stumps into planters sometimes lures pests. Termites especially fancy feasting on the tasty wood. However, proactively treating the stump and surrounding soil with insecticide before planting will prevent those pesky bugs from making it home.

Annual applications ensure your living art stays critter-free for seasons of joy.


You’ve stumped your last ugly tree trunk! Visions of lush greenery dance in your head as you contemplate your transformed stump, now bursting with fragrant blossoms or overflowing with juicy tomatoes. Each hole you drill and chip you chisel brings you one step closer to creating your own horticultural haven.

With a few final scoops of rich soil, you’ll soon stand back and marvel at the verdant life you’ve coaxed from decay.

So grab your tools and let your inner gardener bloom – making a tree stump planter is easier than you think.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.