Wooden Planter Design

DeepStream Planters will last decades while Carpenter built planter construction  will only last 3 to 5 years. 

DeepStream’s Planters are a 3-part engineered system modular assembly of replaceable parts which incorporates DeepStream’s trademark marine anodized aluminum legs, tropical hardwood or maintenance free recycled plastic lumber panels, and sturdy aircraft aluminum frame that supports a food safe, 100% recycled LLDPE waterproof liner.

Don’t confuse these planters with carpenter built planters that will fall apart in 3 to 5 years. Deep’Streams engineered system internal aluminum frame supporting the liner, with advanced drainage solutions, allows for a Lifetime Structural Warranty. The aluminum frame also allows you to add accessories like casters, screen wall, trellises, and more.

Click for more information on DeepStream's Mariner Commercial Wood planter with hidden aluminum frame
DeepStream’s Commercial Wood Mariner Planters proprietary aluminum legs and hidden frame allow for a Lifetime Structural Warranty

If you’re an owner or manager of a property where a wooden planter will be placed give serious consideration to planter construction techniques. Consider what it will mean in terms of cost and disruption to go back and replace or repair carpenter built planters, especially on rooftops and balconies, every 3 – 5 years.

Click to see more info on DeepStream's 3-component engineered commercial planter system with a hidden aluminum  frame supporting a waterproof liner from trademark marine anodized legs.
DeepStream’s 3-component engineered commercial planter system with a hidden aluminum frame supporting a waterproof liner from trademark marine anodized legs.

With DeepStream’s wooden planter design all parts are replaceable making maintenance, refinishing, and repairs quick and easy.

DeepStream-7 year old unmaintained pre-refinished planter in place with liner removed
DeepStream-7 year old unmaintained pre-refinished planter in place with liner removed
DeepStream 7 year old refinished planter back in place
DeepStream 7 year old refinished planter back in place after sanding off .014″ and applying Ipe Oil.

Even stainless steel fasteners are galvanically isolated by using a proprietary dielectric paste so that they may be removed easily years later to replace parts or refinish the planter easily. the before and after pictures of the 7 year old planter shown in pictures above only had the original coat of factory waterproofing and no maintenance.  The “fresh” look was achieved by sanding off just.014” of the 3/4″ thick planks exterior.

Why? Each plank of a wooden planter is cut from a different part of the tree ,or even different trees. This means each plank has its own differential rate of expansion, splitting, and warping when wetted. This makes dimensional stability using standard wood-on-wood construction in two dimensions impossible to maintain over time, and shipbuilding techniques and maintenance are far too costly for planter construction.

Tropical Hardwood properly maintained will last for decades in DeepStream's aluminum frame while recycled plastic lumber will be maintenance free
DeepStream Ipe planks after 7 years. Unmaintained on left. .014″ sanded off and and oiled on right

Wood on wood planter construction uses carpentry techniques that fasten wood to wood, and planters tear themselves apart with the expansive forces that wood exerts through repeated wet and dry cycles.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters

For centuries, wood dowels have been inserted into holes drilled into rock, then soaked with water. The expansion force of the wood is thus harnessed to crack blocks off marble and granite for construction, even though the blocks are hundreds of times thicker than the thin wooden dowel. This is the same action at work on a carpenter built wood planter splinting seams apart.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters,

In addition, most wood planters lack adequate isolation from the soil and the deck or sidewalk, which promotes fresh water rot, water entering vertical planks creates cracks as you see above and below.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters, without proper liners the soil in contact with the wood creates rot.
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters, rotting from the bottom up.

DeepStream uses proprietary marine anodized legs and stainless steel fasteners to clamp the wood and direct the expansionary forces up the channel so that the wood can expand and contract at different rates without affecting the planter’s structural integrity.

DeepStream Designs proprietary marine anodized extruded aluminum structural legs
DeepStream Design’s proprietary marine anodized extruded aluminum legs are engineered to support a hidden structural aluminum frame which supports the waterproof liner and HDPE feet to isolate the planter from contact with soil and the ground.

Unless directed to do so by a customer, DeepStream never uses paint or powder coating, which will fail in 3-5 years. If you order environmentally friendly maintenance free recycled plastic lumber they may be cleaned with a pressure washer.

7 year old Mariner leg

Virtually blemish free 7 year old proprietary marine anodized aluminum leg after simply wiping down with mineral spirits

Large Wooden Planter: comparing real wood to recycled plastic lumber. Click  to see more about recycled plastic lumber planters
Large Wooden Planter: comparing real wood to recycled plastic lumber

For even lower maintenance cost and greater longevity consider ordering DeepStream’s recycled plastic lumber planters and do your part to save the World’s tropical hardwood rain forests.

The commercial grade rigid plastic liners, mounted on an independent aluminum frame, contain the soil and prevent contact between the soil and the wood, preventing rot.

16 sizes of rugged waterproof stock planter liners and custom welded liners to any size: click the picture for more information
Lightweight wood planters need liners. Here you see 16 stock sizes of rugged waterproof, food safe, plastic planter liners with advanced drainage Custom welded planter liners are available in any size.

The waterproof planter liner with advanced drainage is an important feature of DeepStream’s commercial planter system. Container grown bushes, small trees, and perennials require repotting from time to time and DeepStream’s liners tapered shape allow for easy replanting and conditioning in the spring.

Choosing Garden Planters

There are several issues to consider when choosing a garden planter.  Start with aesthetics, how it functions, and the cost value relationship.

In some difficult situations such as high winds where stability is paramount, or south and west facing locations with intense sun where there needs to be a air gap between the planter box and the liner to keep the root ball from overheating, you will have less options when choosing a garden planter.

Choosing a garden planter Large Wood Sidewalk Cafe Planter: click this link for a more detailed comparison of materials and design criteria.
When Choosing a garden planters function is as important as aesthetics. Self contained Cafe Planter such as these, with waterproof liners and advanced drainage, allow for cleaning underneath preventing pests and health code violations and the narrow design doesn’t take up valuable space. Another option is full dept planter boxes on casters.

You also need to determine the types of plants you want and what their soil, drainage and watering requirements are. Local Landscape Architects, landscape maintenance companies, or your local nurseries can give you good advice.

Choosing a garden planter Large Rectangular Wood Restaurant Patio Planter with glass windbreak: click for more details.
Choosing a movable DeepStream commercial restaurant planter with glass screen wall provides a windbreaks, controlling access, quieting noise, expanding social distancing space while extending the outdoor season.

When choosing a garden planter remember that it will affect your choice of plants which is determined by soil volume as well as sun and watering requirements All these consideration directly influence the planter liner depth and width so that your plants grow well as they mature and will not require a lot of extra maintenance.

If you’re thinking of planters that require a waterproof inner liner, pick a planter with a stock molded liner size first, otherwise you may find yourself limited to more expensive custom-welded liners. While all wood planters require a seperate waterproof liner not all wood planters are alike.

Wood planters built with carpenter techniques will fall apart in 3-5 years while DeepStream’s 3-component wooden planter systems have a Lifetime Structural Warranty. Longevity is provided by a hidden structural aluminum frame mounted to proprietary trademark anodized aluminum legs, no paint or powder coating to fail, which are engineered to contain the woods countless wet and dry cycles over decades. The systems has a separate waterproof liner with advanced drainage to prevent contact between the wood and planting medium while also providing an air gap to prevent solar gain from overheating the root ball, the gap can also be used to hides drip irrigation lines and electrical conduit for lights.

Another consideration should not be just the initial cost of the planter, you should consider the lifetime cost of the planter in terms of maintenance, replacement, and plant health. DeepStream’s planters have been designed and constructed using the principles of Sustainable Design to provide the lowest cost of ownership to both the customer and the environment over time.

DeepStream's Large Lightweight Wood Planter System
DeepStream’s Commercial Multi-Section Wood Planters have a Lifetime Structural Warranty and are a lightweight self-contained engineered system comprised of a wood planter box, structural aluminum frame, and waterproof planter liner with advanced drainage. They can hides drip irrigation and electrical systems for lighting if required.

Follow this link to review the comparative attributes of the various planter types to consider when choosing a garden planter, including wood, fiberglass, concrete, metal, ceramic and plastic: https://planterblog.com

DeepStream's Large square Commercial Wood Planters for Trees use maintenance free recycled plastic lumber inside thier aluminum frames: click for more info
DeepStream’s Large square Commercial Planters made with recycled plastic lumber are strong enough to hold trees thanks to their hidden structural aluminum frames and plastic planter liners.

Functional considerations for choosing a garden planter and plants, to name but a few, include:

  • What are the dimensions of the space you have for planter placement?
  • Do you need long planter runs or individual planters?
  • Will the planters be placed on the ground, or on a building level that has weight restrictions?
  • Will they be placed on a hard or soft surface?
  • Will they be in a sheltered or windy location? Stability is a function of form.
  • Will you be planting annuals or perennials? This will affect your choice of planting medium.
  • What is the planting volume (liner size) required for the plants to thrive?
  • How will you water your plants, by hand or drip irrigation?
  • Drainage: what happens when they drain or overflow? If they are used outdoors, the size quantity and placement of drainage holes depend on heaviest rainfall amounts in your area. Indoors or on a balcony your planters may require plugs in liner drains, “directed” drainage, or drip trays.
  • Will the planters be located where they are easy to install and maintain, or will you be moving everything through lobbies and elevators where permission will be required and other residents inconvenienced by your installation and repeat installations should your planters need to be replaced in a few years?
  • Will you want to add accessories like a trellis, windbreak, or casters?
  • Are sustainability, replacement parts, and a Warranty important to you?
  • Delivery time
Large Rectangular Wood Planter
Large Rectangular Wood Planter

For assistance in choosing a garden planter, or answering these and any other questions you might have, feel free to call Sheila at DeepStream, 305 857 0466 and we will walk you through our 32 point check list designed to save you time and money or go to www.DeepStreamDesign.com

Click for more information on planter liners and drip trays
A rugged waterproof planter liner with properly designed tapered sides and a threaded drain hole for directed drainage attachments or a plug. When used indoors or on a balcony the liner sits inside a drip tray that will be hidden by the outer box. The drip tray is proportioned to catch overflow and evaporate it rather than stain decks or floors.

Which ever planter you decide to go with take these considerations into account as they will greatly affect the success of your garden and gardening experience. More detailed information on the key aspect of successful container landscaping can be found on these additional subject pages:

Irrigation for container gardens

Planter Drainage

“Dirt” vs Planting Mix

Planting Mix vs Dirt

DeepStream Designs knows from projects with Landscape Architects across the country how important using the appropriate planting mix is when growing perennials, trees, and bushes.

DeepStream large commercial planters with screen wall and the fight soil mixture grow colorful flowers on this urban roof deck oasis

Replanting these heavy items with complex root systems will be problematic.  Getting it right the first time is well worth the effort.

Often clients use their “Landscaping Contractor” for this work. This may be a good solution if the contractor has extensive experience with container gardening and knows the value of selecting the correct planting mix. Otherwise it could be a mistake.

DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design. Click for info
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.

Why?  Many Landscapers are not familiar with using a planting mix as they are usually planting in the earth. By using “dirt” or “soil” it may make the planter too heavy for the load on a roof or balcony.

Dirt, or an improper planter mix, will prevent drainage if it contain clay fines that can block drains, may hold too little or too much moisture. Additionally, dirt might not contain the correct PH and initial nutrients for the plants that you’re going to use.

There is no universally correct planting mix, as area microclimates must be taken into consideration.  Selecting a planter mix requires an intimate local knowledge of the complex relationship between all the competing factors for beneficial plant growth and maintenance.  Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you have a reliable source for your planting mix.

DeepStream's tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage
DeepStream’s tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage

We have posted a blog on the long-term cost benefits of using a Landscape Architect for even small commercial projects but you still need to ensure they have container gardening experience.  Another reliable source may be the nursery where you are sourcing the plants.

Whatever you do, don’t assume that your Landscaper or other source has the knowledge necessary to provide the planting mix.  Before starting, ask about their experience with container gardening and what mix they propose to use.  Vague or generic answers should be your clue that you need to investigate further before proceeding.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage

By all means, make certain that whoever does the planting follows DeepStream’s instructions regarding planter drainage using drain pads and filter material.  Many “old timers” fall back on gravel and holes in the bottom which will soon clog.

A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems
A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems. Drip irrigation lines are inserted through the top of liner walls below soil level. Quick draining planting medium and drain p[ads are essential ingredients to the long term success of this extensive project.

Remember that most of DeepStream’s stock planter liners come with just one threaded drain hole. This is only the minimum, since some installations are inside and require the hole to be plugged or drain pipes attached.   One hole means one point of failure with no backup.

DeepStream will drill additional drain holes required by your installation at no charge.  Tell us where you want additional drains installed, and we will do it before shipping.  You may also add them in the field with a hole saw.  Deepstream can supply screw together flange fitting to add straight or 90 degree hose barbs to new holes you add.

Fiberglass Planters

Fiberglass Planters offer a variety of designs and are a cost-effective medium-term solution available in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website for more info on Fiberglass Urban-Tall Garden Planters
Landscape Architect-quality Fiberglass planters distributed by DeepStream

If you need a rugged planter to which you can attach accessories, then DeepStream’s own wood and recycled plastic lumber planters, created using the principles of sustainable design, may be a better solution than fiberglass planters.

More durable than other planters, but more limited in form, DeepStream’s commercial wood and aluminum planters deliver excellent value for money. With a Lifetime Structural Warranty, they reduce the overall effort and time that goes into bringing vibrant gardens to barren urban spaces in need of their beneficial cooling and air quality enhancing properties.  

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website more info on Fiberglass Wilshire Garden Planters
Landscape Architect-quality Fiberglass planters distributed by DeepStream

However, if you need more options in terms of form and style, three of the best alternatives to wooden garden planters are Fiberglass-reinforced Plastic (FRP), Glass-fiber-reinforced Concrete (GFRC), and Aluminum. It is important to understand that products manufactured with these materials run the scale from virtually worthless to the quality that Landscape Architects specify for signature projects.  

Village GFRC Planters in Aged Bronze
Round Village GFRC Planters, shown in Aged Bronze, are also available in square shapes.

There are a lot of considerations that go into choosing the right planter for a particular location including: form, root ball heating, and drainage, as well as the inherent limitations of materials and construction methods.  You will find a detailed discussion of the issues with a lot of supporting pictures in my earlier blog entry, Planter Selection, so I’ll not repeat them here.  

Fiberglass is an excellent lightweight material with which to create interesting modern planter forms and surfaces such as an outer gelcoat infused with metal, which oxidizes over time, a favorite of mine for its understated elegance.  You will find a myriad of forms and sizes available on the DeepStream website, and while there are four metal finishes, my favorites are the copper and bronze.

Craftsman FRP Planters with bronze metal-infused finish
Landscape Architect-quality FRP garden planters distributed by DeepStream

Tournesol planters distributed by DeepStream are made with expensive polyester-based fiberglass strands as used in yacht construction, but it is chopped and sprayed, not laid up in biaxial mats, where the hull has constant exposure to water. This Fiberglass-reinforced Plastic (FRP) is sprayed into molds that have been prepared with gel-coat.

Modern round fiberglass garden planter - Aquarian
Landscape Architect-quality fiberglass garden planter distributed by DeepStream

FRP is a lightweight, strong material made up of layers of polyester resin alternated with glass strand. The strength and durability of fiberglass depend upon the number of layers of resin and glass. To ensure the longevity of the planters, they are waterproofed with an additional layer of black gelcoat resin inside.

The large rectangular commercial-grade movable Fiberglass Planters in the photos below were supplied by DeepStream to the restaurant operator at New York’s Rockefeller Center.  The planters rest on caster bases so that they may be rearranged to meet the operators changing needs. At summer’s end, they are simply rolled away to storage to reopen the famous ice skating rink during the winter season. 

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website and more info on large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Design
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs

Issues with Fiberglass Planters

Fiberglass planters are lightweight and strong for their weight and thickness, but they are rigid and brittle. While the fiberglass planters we sell have a 3-year warranty, a 1-year warranty is more common.

Although the planters shown in the pictures below ARE NOT the fiberglass planters we sell, you need to be aware that all fiberglass planters are brittle, unlike wood or aluminum. Looking closely, you can see the vertical cracks that are developing over the edge in the center of this planter’s stiffening flange as the roots push out. Once the flange goes it leads to a catastrophic splitting failure, as the flange is responsible for structural strength.

Fiberglass planters are brittle. Without looking closely, you can't see the vertical cracks that are developing.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Without looking closely, you can’t see the vertical cracks that are developing that will lead to total planter failure in just a short time.
Fiberglass planters are brittle.  Corners and the middle section are the first to go.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Corners and the middle section are the first to go. The top flange is what stiffens the planter walls, and once they crack, it leads to catastrophic failure. This is why even the best fiberglass planters have just a 3-year warranty.

When roots push out against the side walls, first the flange cracks, then the long side panels spit vertically. While it is possible to prevent this in construction, it is costly. Currently most of these “me too” planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials. 

Fiberglass planters are brittle. Looking closely you can see the vertical cracks that are developing.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Looking closely, you can see the vertical cracks that are developing over the edge as the roots push out which will lead to a catastrophic failure. This is why even the best fiberglass planters have just a 3-year warranty.

Most fiberglass planters are light at the expense of strength and may not be durable enough for certain location.  This is why even the best manufacturers provide just a 3-year warranty.

In addition, fiberglass planters are almost all single-walled and prone to solar gain. White or light-colored finishes would be better in sunny locations.  They do not have drainage control, nor do they hide drip irrigation lines. 

The large expensive planters shown below are installed in Miami’s downtown area and, while shaded by buildings, they are not really rugged enough for the streetscapes in which they are installed, nor do they have much surface area.  Believe it or not, these planters are just 1/8″ thick painted skins of chopped fiberglass sprayed into a mold.

Fiberglass planters are thin, lightweight and strong, but are brittle and prone to damage
Fiberglass planters are thin, lightweight and strong, but are brittle and prone to damage
While most "me too" planters are lightweight at the expense of strength, they may not be durable enough for certain locations.  Currently most fiberglass planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials.
This one passes the 6-foot test, but look closely. While these planters are lightweight at the expense of strength, they may not be durable enough for certain locations. Currently most of these “me too” planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials.
Light and relatively inexpensive planters of this type are brittle and easily damaged, and can be split by roots.
Light and relatively inexpensive planters are brittle and easily damaged, and can be split by roots, even when not damaged like the planter above.