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I think I’m just going to have to call this The Summer of Outdoor DIY, because I can’t seem to stay inside long enough to finish something off before going back out and beautifying another part of the yard. I promise, I am working on a few reveals inside, but the outdoor ones have been going so well that I’m just trying not to jinx it. This time, I attempted a project I’ve seen on Pinterest but wasn’t sure if it was really as easy as it looked. It wasn’t. But I still got it done, and even got to skip arms day at the gym. Oh yeah — and it’s not looking half bad, either.

cascading stump planter

As I mentioned last week, a few DIY blogging buds of mine like to do this thing where we pick a theme and all kind of just go build or make something involving whatever was picked. We’ve done organization. We’ve done scrap wood. We’ve done lighting. This time, I was going to host (um… foreshadowing), so I picked Living DIY (#LIVINGDIYCHALLENGE) for no other reason than I was already working on like ten ideas that could qualify for this as an option. The concept: build or DIY something that involves a living element. Indoors, that could be a terrarium or a dog dish stand or wall art that has plants hanging off of it; outdoors, the concept is practically already built in to every project. With such endless possibilities, I couldn’t wait to see what my bloggy pals were going to come up with! They were going to kick my butt, but I was prepared for that, since they kind of have “being a badass” down to a science. And with me hosting, I knew there was a built-in method for keeping me accountable, since I’m usually the procrastinating one who takes on too much and struggles to post in time. Well, about that…


Getting the project part done was one thing, but in some hilariously fun twist, June just happened to be the month where nearly all of my blog buds slept through their proverbial project alarms. Each of them pulled a Sarah, so-to-speak — in that they agreed to our challenge, started their projects, and then many of them had not one, but multiple conflicts this very week! Wop, wop. I was tempted to postpone on their behalf, but I didn’t want to force anyone else to postpone their projects if they had created them for the challenge, so I decided to just roll with it, Hunger Games-style. Whoever’s odds were in their favor, they could post away. And I’m glad I did, because Mindi from My Love 2 Create has a stunning wall project to share today that you won’t want to miss!

There’s also a linkup at the bottom when this post goes live, so be sure to check out the other themed projects. For now though, let’s get onto my stump planter project!

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How to Create a Cascading Stump Planter in the Yard


Start with an ugly-ass stump that you have been giving the stink-eye to ever since you moved in. To clarify, this was not a leftover from the tree removal project I did last year — this thing was likely a tree taken out by the city many years ago and left to rot in an awkward spot by some utility lines in my front yard. Basically, it’s smack dab in the middle of an otherwise easy-to-mow area.

before stump

Grab safety equipment

Grab some safety equipment. I repeat. Make sure you have safety glasses on. I would make a Bible joke right now about having a splinter in your eye, but I’m specifically saying to avoid that, so let’s just go with the simple, third warning that you don’t want to have bits of wood stuck in your eye under any circumstances, so put something on over them that deflects the ugly stump from getting up close and personal with your baby blues.

In other news, you’ll also need a drill and the biggest spade bit you can find in your garage. And a hammer. A chisel would have been helpful to have one if you owned one, but if you don’t, then you’re as ill-prepared for this project as I was, but you can still knock it out. It just takes a little more elbow grease.

safety goggles and favorite drill


The stump I worked on already had a center hole drilled into it from whenever it was taken down, so it had several years to dry out and become insect food. I was glad to have this, because it meant drilling went a lot quicker (the stump was already very dry and splintery). In fact, I had to be careful as I drilled to keep the edge intact, since one whole side of the stump had already been chipped away over time (perhaps by nature or a wayward edge trimmer).

drill holes for drainage


Keep going. I found that the most effective combination was my spade bit and Dewalt drill, then whacking at various stubborn bits with a hammer until things came out in large chunks (a chisel would have also been helpful). This Old House suggests using a mattock, which I also have, but I couldn’t get enough control with it to make sure that the edge of the stump stayed intact, so I went back to using the hammer. Stacey from Not Just a Housewife did a similar project with creating an indoor planter out of a section of an old log, so check out her post for more tips (though, I will say that I did not find the Ryobi impact driver I had effective on this project at all… the bits kept slipping).

Try to get four to six inches deep at least, and drill a few deeper spots for drainage. You can’t really see it in the pictures here, but the sawdust was particularly effective at making me think I wasn’t making any progress, when in fact the ground middle area was much deeper once I swept everything away.

drilling into stump


Finally, it was time for the fun part: adding plants. I originally thought I would go with succulents, but when I found a fun little fern and flowers, I changed my mind. Foxtail, Calipetite along the back are drought tolerant, and the Portulaca (the pink flowers) cascades down the front of the stump, which makes the chipped-off area look a lot more intentional.

mix of plants closeup

And here’s the final result!

side view diy stump planter

I raced against the clock to snap these pics just before the skies opened up. The rain may have caused the flowers to snap shut, but I still think it looks a lot prettier than where I began!

side view cascading stump planter 2

stump planter after rain

top view cascading stump planter diy

Let’s do a before and after, just for fun:

before ugly stump

cascading stump planter after

cascading stump planter

And now, it’s your turn to link up! If you decided to go along with the theme, please use the hashtag #LIVINGDIYCHALLENGE on social media so that I can see and comment on your project, and please use the graphic above referencing the challenge with a link back to this post so that your readers can click through and check out the other projects. Thanks!


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  1. Sarah, I am seriously loving your beautiful stump planter! If I ever have an ugly stump now I know what to do!! Thanks for hosting the challenge and am glad I made it to the final with you! ha ha! :)

  2. I’ve always liked seeing plants growing in stumps or even planters set on top of them, if you’re stuck with it anyhow may as well make the best of it.

    I think it’s supercool to see a Calipetite in action, because I think they’re kind of amazing. They’re extremely compact but heavy flowering and they don’t get bald at the top of the planter – or stump – as fast as other calibrachoa would.

  3. Rad! Very pretty. Add this bit to your toolbox (it’s the perfect marriage of paddle bit and auger bit): https://www.lowes.com/pd/IRWIN-SPEEDBOR-3-4-in-Woodboring-Tri-Flute-Drill-Bit/1070335
    I made one of these planter logs for DIY last year using a freestanding log, and I started with a regular paddle bit but that got old really fast… it kept jarring up on me and jerked me around a lot which it sounds similar to what you dealt with too. That $8 mega bit will save you a major headache if you decide to make more!

  4. This is really an excellent idea to grow planters in a stump. Stump planters can be a focal point of any backyard and garden. Planting in a stump is the best thing we can do.