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How to make a slate planter

You will need

  • Two large or four small reclaimed roof slates
  • Single-bottle wine box
  • Strong 'no nails' glue
  • Sempervivums x 3
  • Compost and gravel
  • Angle grinder
  • Safety goggles, mask and protective gloves
  • Electric drill and large drill bit
Do it: all year round


Planted with succulents, such as sempervivum, a smart slate trough looks good all year round. The soft grey and worn, uneven edges of reclaimed roof slates are the perfect foil for the fleshy plants.

How to do it


Lay the wine box on the slate and draw round it to mark out two side pieces and two end pieces, adding an extra 1cm along the top edge of each piece to form a lip above the top of the box. Measure the thickness of the slate and add double this to the length of the longer side pieces. If you're using broken slates, you'll need to plan it out in advance to ensure you have enough slate for all four panels.


Hold the slate securely in a vice, packing it with wood if necessary, then cut out the four panels using an angle grinder (wearing safety gear). Or, alternatively, use a tile cutter. Then turn the wine box upside down and drill three large drainage holes in the base.


Apply adhesive to one end of the box and press the slate end-piece carefully into place. Stand the box on a flat surface to ensure the bottom of the slate is level with the bottom of the box and that it covers the end completely. Repeat with the other end, followed by the sides.


Once the adhesive has dried, line the trough with a carrier bag to protect the wood and cut holes in the bag for drainage. Add a layer of gravel, the fill the trough with compost and plant the sempervivums. Finish off with a layer of gravel mulch.

Our tip

You can buy slates from reclamation yards, or you might be lucky to find some lying around in your own or a friend's garden.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to make a slate planter
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brunehill 24/11/2011 at 15:29

An excellent cheap and easy way of making an expensive looking planter. Just check out the cost of of similar items in garden centres.

Pipstrelle 25/01/2013 at 00:40

But how many people have an angle grinder?!

Sue T 13/06/2013 at 20:42

I have 2 welsh slate planters - easy to make even without the wooden box inside. Find 4 slates that will form a box shape ( 2 of one size, 2 of another). Just drill holes in the corners of all the slates and thread wire through, and twist tight. Water drains out through sides so no need to drill holes in the base. Good for echeverias and cowslips. Will put a photo up on 'Sue T' very soon.

Rosabella 28/11/2013 at 20:42

Isn't slate notoriously prone to cracking?