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Totally Free Summer Mantel Planter Box

How to create something decorative for your fireplace mantel this summer that won’t cost you a dime by repurposing a few found objects in your home and yard. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.


When thinking about how I wanted to decorate my fireplace mantel this summer, the one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to buy something just to use to decorate that would be used for a few months and then placed in storage.

I wanted to repurpose something around the house that I could use through the seasons, like I did when I created my coffee table.

I also wanted simple, a natural element and something that would go with the casual laid-back summer vibe in the living room. Laid back living with a barefoot kind of vibe, where life isn’t overrun with stuff – it is freeing.

My Empty Mantel Needed Something

Empty fireplace mantel waiting to be decorated.

It took me a while to come up with an idea as I played with arranging items pulled from my decorative storage stash in my attic along the mantel, but none of it was looking right. I removed it all and just sat and looked at the empty mantel.

An idea came to me when I took a break from the mantel and went to the garage for an electrical cord and saw a 2 x 6 that Ed had removed from the dock leaning in a corner. He kept a few that were sun-bleached and in good condition, actually they were the perfect “rough hewn” condition I was envisioning for the mantel.

The sun-bleached grey 2″ x 6″ x 8″ was perfect. My mind was fast coming up with an idea for the mantel to try out. I went with my idea and loved what I created…. something that fit all my check boxes.

Oh!…. and the best part, it was totally FREE!

The Mantel Planter Box That Really Isn’t

Stone fireplace with white mantel. Pink flowers in fireplace. Greenery clippings in wood planter on top of mantel.

My collection of jelly jars and clippings from the shrubs around my house all came together to make this simple modern long “faux” planter box.

My planter box has a secret, it is not a full planter box, only the facade of a planter box. I cheated since I only had one board and also to keep construction to a minimum.

The wood was aged to perfection. I didn’t have to do anything to achieve that color – age and the weather did it for me.

White mantel on stone fireplace with wood planter box filled with greenery.

For the summer months, I will keep clippings from my yard behind it, but you can use fake greenery or flowers.

Look around your garage or wood scrap stash if you have one. A pine board can be stained or painted any color to achieve different looks.

If you don’t have scrap wood, head to the home improvement store and ask to see their scrap bin pile to find a piece to use.

How to Make a Long Faux Planter Box For a Mantel

supplies needed:

  • Reclaimed 2″ x 6″ or scrap wood. My faux planter is 5-feet long and 9″ deep.
  • Saw
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 2 “L” brackets and screws
  • Screwdriver

Time needed: 30 minutes.

How to Make a Reclaimed Wood Planter Box for a Fireplace Mantel

  1. Measure Wood

    Determine how long you want the planter. Use a ruler and pencil to mark where to cut wood.

  2. Cut Wood to Size


    Using a saw, cut wood to your desired length. I made my planter box a little shorter than the length of the mantel. Then cut the two side pieces.

  3. Attach “L” Brackets


    Lay wood on its side and screw in “L” brackets to attach the front and side pieces as shown below.

    How to make a wood planter box

  4. Add Jelly Jars to Hold Clippings or Flowers

    I lined up jelly jars filled with water that will be behind the planter box to hold the greenery clippings from my yard.

    Shrub clippings in clear glass jelly jars lined up on a 2 x 4.

  5. Add a 2″ x 4″ if Needed


    To add more height I placed the jars on a 2″ x 4″ so the tops of the jars were in line with the top edge of the planter box. This way the greenery could naturally hang over the front of the box. You may have taller containers to hold water/greenery/flowers and may not need to do this.

    Close up of clippings from shrubs lined up in glass jars on a wood 2 x 6 on a mantel.

  6. Place Planter Box On Mantel


    Place the planter box around the jelly jars and then arrange clippings or flowers along the planter box.

    Long sun weathered wood planter on top of mantel filled with shrub clippings.

Now I have plans on how I can use my faux planter box through the seasons. I just love when creative ideas that flit through my mind come to life. That is the best way to decorate in your own style.

Stay tuned for my next post to see what else I used to decorate my living room for summer and not spend a dime.

Stone fireplace with white mantel. Wood planter box filled with greenery on top. Text overlay says Easy DIY mantel planter box.

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41 Comments

  1. This is a super clever way to always have an inexpensive way to decorate for all seasons. I love the way you are always showing us how to decorate without spending a fortune or buying out a craft store. I look forward to your posts.

  2. Diane, I have a problem that you may be able to help me with. I have a beautiful console table and we have a sonos speaker system. This means one of the small speakers sits on the console table. With your approach in mind, do I count the all black speaker as one of the items if I should have three items on each end of the table? Do I not count it and try to decorate around it? They are not my favorite things but they are my husbands :( I should have posted this comment on another one of your posts (decorating a mantel). Thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. Hi Monica – I feel your pain. :-) Items and furnishings that our spouse loves and we don’t, I call mollifiers. We have to learn to live with them :-)

      In the case of the speakers, you can have two items on one end and three on the other. This will look fine. It is more of an asymmetrical design. I would try to vary the size and texture of the items around the speaker. Something larger and another smaller than the speaker. Since the speaker is black, it will stand out if all the items are similar, so try to mix it up with what is around them. Play around with different items until you like what you see. You may end up not even noticing it anymore.

  3. I love these flitting ideas going thru your brain too Diane, and appreciate your sharing!

  4. Love it! There can never be enough green in a room.

    BTW, I used one of your links for a sun hat. It was exactly what I was looking for, so thanks for that, too!

  5. Love this. Walked by some boards in neighbor’s trash this morning. Rushing off to see if still there!

  6. You are a genius! I am going to hunt for a distressed board pronto! Thank you for sharing your wisdom Diane!

  7. Absolutely love it and am definitely going to do it. I’ll send a pix whenever I get it done. Would you be kind enough to show us how to make some flowered hanging baskets for backyard patio? I am in the need of three and don’t even know where to start. That would be wonderful if you could show us that, I may not be the only one that could use this. Thanks so much Diane. Sending virtual hugs from Fresno, CA!

  8. WOW Diane!! You really did it! What a great idea and use of “leftovers”. Congratulations!!!

  9. Love how when you walk away and an idea suddenly presents itself!!
    Your mantel looks great!!

  10. I was so inspired to redo my old mantel decorations! I found a white wicker rectangle basket already filled with greenery in my basement and it looks great on the mantel. Thanks for the idea and the nudge to use what I already have.

  11. I love your creativity! I’m jealous because I don’t have a mantle to decorate?. You are also blessed to have a yard that supplies you with such lovely cuttings. Enjoy your summer. Hope you
    Get time with the little one.?

  12. Hi Diane, I first thought you were making a rustic cover for the WHOLE white mantel that would look more casual to go with your lake front lifestyle…and would look great against the stonework…just a thought! It could be removed when you want a more elegant display…

  13. Hello. This is so pretty and what a good idea! I’ll go look in our own “stash” of wood…

  14. Brilliant! I can envision this through the seasons. Spring hyacinths blooming with fresh green. Summer roses cascading over the aged wood ,Fall with leaves and berries, Christmas , all the possibilities. .Add candles and hurricanes etc.

  15. That mantle box is brilliant. I have some old barn wood that I’ll use. Thanks!
    Connie D
    Whidbey Island, Wa.

  16. I love.your style and idas Thank you so much for sharing. Hope th and your family stays safe.
    Lisa

  17. Sometimes I think too hard?. Then when I put it aside, BAM! I get a grand idea. That sad board was just waiting to make you happy! Love the simplicity and idea.

  18. That looks so awesome! What a clever idea, and it really is a great way to repurpose. Thanks for the inspiration…off to look around to see what I can find laying around. :)