How to Hollow out a Log to Use as Planters

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When it comes to home design, I’ve always had a penchant for rustic and traditional. That extends to how I want my garden to look. For instance, I like my planters to be all-natural. I never had a thing for plastics. Today I thought I’d show you how to hollow out a log to use as planters.

Things You’ll Need

Work Gloves And Safety Glasses

Work Gloves

Protect your hands from splinters and cuts. Barks can be pretty rough to touch. Just because it’s DIY and the government won’t be checking on you doesn’t mean you’ll have to disregard your safety. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from sawdust and any debris that might jump on your face as you do your woodwork.

Plastic Planter

The plastic planter will serve as your inner planter. If you use the log directly as your planter, please expect that the plant will grow roots and in no time may break the log with the help of rain and other natural elements. If you can get a plastic planter that’s thin enough not to be noticed at close range, then get that.

Nothing will ruin your log planter more than a prominent-looking plastic planter inside it. You can, of course, skip this and just plant directly in your hollowed out log, but make sure you drill out plenty of holes at the bottom, especially if you’ll be planting flowers in it.


How to hollow out a log - choosing the log

You’ll want to use a log that’s six inches longer than your plastic planter. You may also want to choose one that’s got different textures on its bark for a more rustic look. You don’t have to go to a lumber yard to get a good piece. Just look around, find a fallen log and work with it.

2 Bricks

You will need two bricks to keep the log steady as you hollow it out. You’ll place them on each side of the log to keep them from rolling off. You can, of course, replace this with anything that’s heavy enough to keep the round log from moving as you hollow it out.


The marker will be used to draw the opening. Mark the log where the opening will start and end, and even how deep you want the hollowing to go. A marker may seem insignificant to a DIY project like this, but you’ll be surprised how it can help you with accuracy.

Hollowing out unevenly or making the opening uneven may result to an imbalanced log that may roll off as the plant grows and gets heavier.

Measuring Tape

Use a measuring tape to measure the depth of the planter. You will need the marker with this to make an even opening and even depth.

Damp Cloth


You’ll need a damp cloth to wipe off any sawdust caused by drilling. Noticed how house builders always have a damp cloth by their side as they do woodwork? It’s because you don’t sweep the sawdust from your project. You wipe it off with a damp cloth so as not to spread it further around. You’ll need this for wiping sawdust from the log’s opening.

Drill With 1” Spade Drill Bit And 1/2” Drill Bit

Get a drill to bore holes at the bottom of the log. This is to drain excess water from rain and keep your plants healthy. You’ll need to drill into the outside perimeter of the log opening. Bore sections on the center chunk of the wood too, making sure you drill them side-by-side.

Hammer And Chisel

After drilling, there will be raised remnants of wood in the center of the log. You’ll take those off with a hammer and chisel.

Wood Sealer And Paintbrush

If you want your log planter to last long before it naturally decays, use a wood sealer for all the exterior. Thoroughly coat the inside of the log with wood sealer, with the help of a paintbrush.

Potting Soil And Choose Plant/Seed

Your very last items to use will be the soil and the plant or seed of your choosing. Make sure you keep enough spacing in-between the plants/seed so they don’t crowd each other.

How To Hollow Out A Log

Step #1

Pick a log that’s 2 to 6 inches larger in diameter than the planter’s width. We recommend getting one that’s longer than your plastic container (if you’re using one) by six inches. Try to get a log with great texture and different hues on its bark. It adds appeal to your garden.

Step #2

Figure out which side of the log you want to use as a planter. Place a brick on each side of the log you’ll lay on a flat surface. The bricks will keep the log from rolling. When choosing a side to hollow out, make sure it’s the one that’s less flat, so that the log will be steady with a more flat bottom.

Step #3

Get your plastic container that will serve as your size guide. Place it upside down on your log and trace its opening with a marker. The opening of the plastic planter should be sitting on the log so that you can trace accurately its size.

Step #4

Now, start measuring the depth of the planter. Get your measuring tape for this step. Measure the sides of the log starting from the planter markings on top of the log. Draw a horizontal line at the planter depth using your marker.

Step #5

You can’t move to Step #5 without your safety glasses. Put them on and place a 1-inch spade bit in your drill. About 1.5” inside your planter drawn, place the pointer center tip of the drill on top of your log. Start drilling in short bursts until the flat top sides of the drill bit enter the wood.

Hold the trigger and continue drilling to the depth marking seen on the side of your log. Make sure you place the holes about 1.5” apart throughout the entire interior of the drawn lines.

Step #6

Now, get your framing chisel. Place the chisel’s longest side in such a way that it rests on the line. The tip of the chisel must be on the top marker line. Strike the chisel with a hammer while you keep the latter steady in the opposite hand. Keep chiseling out the excess wood, minding the edges of the lines and the depth on the sides. Make sure you chisel the small amounts too between the drilled holes.

Step #7

This step is one of the most important ones. You’re going to drill drainage holes in the bottom of your log using a 1.5-inch drill bit. Make sure you drill holes 4” apart.

Step #8

Drilling will inevitably cause sawdust. This is when you’ll need that damp cloth. Wipe all debris and sawdust off the log’s opening using a damp cloth. Let the wood dry completely after wiping.

Step #9

Get your paintbrush and wood sealer. Dip the brush into the wood sealer and brush the surface of the log’s opening. To get all crevices, press the tip of the paintbrush onto crevices. Coat all surface thoroughly. Don’t forget to seal the exterior, the sides, and even the ends. You want to make sure you’ve coated all surface generously to keep the log from rotting prematurely.

Coat the bottom too by turning the log over once the top side has dried. Skip sealing altogether if you prefer that the wood decay naturally in time.

Step #10

Now, turn the log over so that the opening is facing up. Insert the plastic container (if you’re using one), get the potting soil and pour it into the planter. Add plants of your choice. If you’re placing the log on an uneven ground, you may want to place two bricks, one on each side, of the log so that the log stays put. You can also use other heavy objects that might compliment your log planter’s look.

Tips From The Pros

  • Don’t overlook log placement. Depending on your chosen plants’ needs, position them so that they get enough or little sunlight!
  • Cut off one end of a log if you wish to make a tall planter. Stand the log up and start hollowing it out with a drill and chisel.
  • You can always remove the bark off a log if you prefer a smoother appearance. You can even paint it with any color, as a substitute for wood sealer.

Final Thoughts

Starting a DIY project can be daunting yet exciting at the same time! Just make sure you have everything you need at arm’s length and that you know exactly what to do to avoid accidents and costly mistakes. Always make room for error so that you can adjust accordingly.

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