DIY An Outdoor Coffee Table That Also Serves As A Beautiful Planter

It's finally the weekend, and you're settling into your favorite backyard reading spot with a new book and your favorite beverage in hand — only you'll need two hands to crack open that fresh book spine and there's nowhere convenient to set down your glass. You might settle for a makeshift surface, a nearby potted plant, or even the ground itself, but you shouldn't have to choose between adding more plants to your yard or adding some practical surface space. Installing a coffee table planter is one of the most genius ways to decorate with greenery and make your outdoor lounging experience more comfortable! Similar outdoor table planters can be found online, like this one from Wayfair, but there are also a handful of DIY tutorials that will show you how to build your own table that doubles as a planter. Simply fill the container with the right potting substrates, add a few flat stone surfaces to hold drinks, and plant some table-friendly plants in the leftover space.  

By following these DIY ideas, you can make a one-of-a-kind outdoor planter coffee table. Of course, there are some factors to consider, like your ideal table height and appropriate drainage for plants. Here's how you can follow this popular DIY idea, plus tips for choosing the right plants and decorating your table to make it feel unique to you and your backyard. 

Drill, fill, and place your surface stones

There are lots of ways to customize this DIY coffee table to make it your own, but the first basic component you'll need is a container. Consider common household items you can turn into beautiful planters, such as a galvanized steel tub, a thrifted bookshelf, or an old filing cabinet. If your container isn't at the desired height for your finished table, you may want to lift it with wooden block legs or cinder blocks. You'll also need some large, flat stones, potting mix, and pea gravel. Necessary tools may vary, depending on your materials and desired final look, but a drill can be useful to create drainage holes. 

Start by preparing your container, determining the desired table height, and creating a few drainage holes in the bottom if needed; for a thrifted bookshelf or filing cabinet, flip it on its back first. Fill the container with larger stones or gravel at the bottom to improve drainage, then add a well-draining potting mix to fill the rest of the container, leaving about an inch of space from the top. Lay your flat stones in the desired position; these will act as your table surfaces for drinks and other items. Instead of stones, you could use ceramic coasters or patio pavers, making sure they will fit nicely within the planter with room to spare. Finally, install your plants and cover the remaining visible soil with pea gravel.

The best plants for your table and other fun tips

Nearly any container-friendly plant can be grown in your DIY coffee table planter, but the interactive nature of this project means that some plant choices will be better than others. After all, who wants a vicious cacti next to their coffee mug? Any plants you choose should be relatively small, low-maintenance, and touch-friendly. Opt for short plants like mini succulents or plants that drape neatly over the sides of the table, like strings of pearls. Sempervivum (hens and chicks) is a brilliant drought-tolerant succulent that looks beautiful in outdoor planters. You also may want to avoid flowering plants so bees won't be tempted to take a dip in your drink, but fragrant herbs like thyme or mint can be fun, especially when plucked fresh for cocktails. 

As previously mentioned, you can customize your coffee table planter in countless ways. The ratio of plants to surface space is totally up to you! If you aren't pleased with the idea of setting your mug right beside the plants, elevate your paver stones or create a raised platform that sits above the plants. You could also use the additional space for a book, music speaker, citronella candle, snack plate, and more. Marbles or glass beads instead of pea gravel can lend a more colorful look, as can painting fun details on the sides of your planter table.