“Upcycling is important year round because our natural resources are limited and global warming is absolutely real.” – Matthew Loftice, Recycled Brooklyn
Want to try your hand at upcycling with some easy DIY? Brothers Matthew and Steven of the Brooklyn-based furniture design and home goods company Recycled Brooklyn have an easy six-step planter guide. Dig out a wooden ladder from your garage or source one from your local flea market or yard sale to build a planter and add extra greenery to your home.
For the planter’s boxes, Recycled Brooklyn prefers reclaimed cedar wood. “Cedar is best because it stands up to the elements and it's waterproof,” Matthew says. “That's why they make all the New York City water towers out of cedar.” You can find reclaimed cedar at a lumber mill or salvage yard. Many lumber mills also sell it online. Alternatively, you can also use a deconstructed wood pallet.
Hole-punched thin metal straps
Wooden ladder from a yard sale or flea market
Drill and driver
1/8" drill bit
Table saw (if needed, try to get wood cut at the store)
Find a wooden ladder at a yard sale or flea market and lean it against a wall to determine its angle. The angle can be whatever you want, but a roughly 70-degree one looks best, which you can attain from placing the base of the ladder around 30 inches from the wall.
Measure the height, width, and depth of the spaces between the rungs of the ladder where the planters will go. Make sure that your measurements are perpendicular to the ground and that the top of each planter hits the middle of the rung above it.
Determine the board sizes you will need from the measurements taken from the ladder. Use the assembly plan pictured, and don't forget to account for the board thickness when making the wood cut list. (This is where you’ll be using your wood glue.)
Purchase and cut wood according to your measurements and assemble with screws in the marked places. Don't forget to predrill holes with a 1/8" drill bit before driving screws in. Otherwise the boards may split or crack. You may also consider drilling in holes for drainage.
Attach hole-punched metal straps to the inside corners of the planters with screws, and bend them to conform to the rung it will be attaching to. Attach them to the rung by screwing them on if possible or necessary.
You're done with assembly! Paint or finish as desired, secure the planter to the wall, fill with soil, and see what kind of ladder garden you can create.
Interested in other ways we’re using recycled products? Check out this interview with Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread, who makes fabric used in Timberland x Thread products from recycled plastic bottles.