How to Create Beautiful Concrete Planters

Concrete planters on front brick steps
When you learn how to make concrete planters, you’ll never look at a plastic container the same way again!

Curb appeal makes a home more beautiful, enjoyable and, if you’re looking to sell, valuable.

You don’t have to spend a bundle to elevate your home’s appearance — if you want to tackle a quick and inexpensive project, start with some concrete planters.

It’s the perfect little project to spruce up your front porch — and I’m serious when I say you can do it yourself!

Quikrete 5000 and materials for creating a concrete planter
Grab everything you need for this project now so there are no surprises later — I can wait for you!

Materials You’ll Need

  • Two forms (One large, one small)
  • Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix
  • Quikrete Liquid Cement Color (Optional)
  • Masonry Paintbrush (Optional)
  • Painter’s Tape (Optional)
  • Masonry Paint (Optional)
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • Cooking Spray
  • Scissors
  • Trowel
  • Drill
  • Splash-proof chemical safety glasses
  • Nitrile, butyl or PVC gloves
Before you begin, put on the correct gear to protect your eyes and skin.

Note: Safety should always come first! Before you begin, put on some pants, a long-sleeve shirt and protective eyewear, such as splash-proof chemical-safety glasses.

You’ll also need to wear gloves to prevent skin irritation.


If you’ve never worked with forms before, think of it this way: the “outside bowl” makes up the actual planter. The “inside bowl” creates the hole where the plant (like this beautiful succulent!) goes.

1. Select some forms. To make almost anything with concrete, you need plastic or metal forms. So, go grab two bowls — or buckets or garbage cans, depending on your planter’s size — and make sure one is larger than the other.

Let’s call the big bowl the “outside bowl” and call the small bowl the “inside bowl.” (Spoiler alert: The inside bowl goes inside the outside bowl and serves as the void for your planter.)

The last thing you want your forms to do is stick to the concrete. That’s why cooking spray is a must.

2. Spray it down. Spray the outside of the inside bowl with cooking spray to prevent the concrete mix from sticking. Then spray down the inside of the outside bowl.

You can hand-mix concrete with a trowel, a shovel or a hoe. Of course, if you want to speed things up, go ahead and grab a drill with a mixing paddle.

3. Mix up some concrete. Combine some Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix and about three quarts of water in a plastic mortar tub or wheelbarrow. Project needs vary, so always read the package’s directions!

Quikrete 5000 is a blend of gravel, sand and cement. It’s usually used for exterior projects such as driveway aprons, deck supports and patios, so it’s the perfect product for creating front-porch planters!

Now, back to mixing. Project needs vary, depending on the planter’s size, so follow the concrete package’s directions to achieve the right consistency.

Concrete mix is ready to apply when it looks like thick oatmeal. Also, it should hold its shape when you squeeze it in a gloved hand.

Optional: If you want to add color to your concrete, mix in some Quikrete Liquid Cement Color. One 10-ounce bottle goes a long way — it can color up to two bags of 80-pound concrete mix!

When it comes to concrete, consistency is key, so add the cement color to your water before mixing it into the concrete.

Be kind to your plants — don’t forget drainage!

4. Add a Drainage Hole. Every planter needs good drainage to protect roots, so pour a thin layer of concrete in the outside bowl and stick a plastic drinking straw at the center. Make sure the straw touches the bottom of the bowl.

Then, cut the straw just over the top of that concrete layer, and place the inside bowl in the outside bowl, right on top of the concrete. 

Before we pour concrete into the outer form, we need to weigh down the inner form.

5. Weigh it down. Once you’ve placed the inside bowl inside the outside bowl, you’ll need to weigh it down. I used a can of paint to do this, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

When you pour concrete mix around the inside bowl, and into leftover space in the outside bowl, the weight will prevent the smaller bowl from floating up.

Don’t worry if some concrete mix falls into the inner form — it’s just there to create a void for your planter anyway.

6. Pour it in. Now it’s time for the fun part! Pour the concrete mix into the outside bowl and make sure it completely fills the void between the rims of the inside and outside bowls.

Spread the mix with a trowel as needed, and don’t worry if some of the mixture falls into the inside bowl. It’s impossible to ‘mess up’ up the inside bowl because its only purpose is to create the outside bowl’s void. (Where you’ll add the potting soil and plant.)

Sorry, air bubbles — you have got to go! That’s why we’re tapping them out with a rubber mallet.

7. Tap out the air bubbles.

Grab a rubber mallet and tap all around the sides of your form. This prevents air bubbles so your planter will look its best!

Also, I’d just like to say something before moving on to the next step: these two planters use less than HALF a bag of concrete mix. So, there’s plenty left over for more planters or projects in the future!

OK. Moving on…

The hardest part of this project is over. (Yay!) Now it’s time to wait.  

8. Let it dry. Wait for the concrete mix to dry according to the package’s instructions and then remove the inside bowl. The cooking spray you added at the very beginning should make this easy to do.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf sands her concrete planters
Want a smooth look? Don’t forget to sand!

9. Sand it down. Your planter can be as smooth or rough as you want — it just depends on the look you want! If you’re not a fan of lines or jagged edges, grab some 60-grit sandpaper and sand it down.

That’s all there is to it!

Now, you can have traditional concrete planters, which are gray in color, or stained ones to match your home. But there’s yet a third option! You can get your creative juices flowing and paint your planters after they’ve cured.

Painted and sealed concrete planters set in geometric wire plant stands
Priming and painting your planters gives them a finished look. (DepositPhotos)

You just need painter’s tape, exterior-grade bonding primer (to fill pores and even the surface) and some masonry paint and a masonry paintbrush or roller. And then place them on nice geometric pedestals like these.

Whether your concrete planters are big or small, the result is a functional way to add more warmth and charm to your outdoor living area or front porch!


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