How to Make a Table With an Inset Planter

Invite the garden to your table with this easy outdoor furniture hack. Cut holes and pop in galvanized metal mud pans to give an inexpensive wooden coffee table a cool new look with a place to plant succulents, herbs, or flowering annuals.
Jacob Fox

Succulents are hot right now, as is the practice of crafting standard kit furniture into customized decor. This project combines these two trends in one afternoon project. Fit the table with galvanized-steel mud pans (used for drywall joint compound), then turn the mud pans into planters by drilling holes in them. Have fun filling them with easy-care succulents.

  • Working Time 1 Hour
  • Start to Finish 1 Hour
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Easy
  • Involves Drilling, Cutting, Planting

What you need


  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Eye and ear protection
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill and 3/8-inch drill bit


  • Wooden outdoor table with slat construction
  • 2 galvanized-steel drywall mud pans
  • 12 hardy succulent plants in small pots—Sempervivum spp. and trailing Sedum spp.
  • Potting soil formulated for cacti and succulents

How to do it

Step 1 Assemble Table

Assemble the table according to directions. Turn one of the mud pans over and align the long edge of the pan evenly with the edge of the table’s center support section. Use a pencil to trace the long edge of the pan opposite the center support—this also marks the width of the pan.

Step 2 Measure Cut-out for Pan

Measure at least 1/2 inch inside the original pencil line to create a cutting line that is smaller than the dimensions of the mud pan so the pan can drop partway into the hole. The edge of the center support will be the cutting line for the opposite side—the pan will drop in between them. Check your measurements carefully and avoid cutting through hardware under the table.

Step 3 Cut Along Line

Put on eye and ear protection. Starting at one end of the cutting line you drew in Step 2, slip the jigsaw blade between the slats, and start cutting directly on the line. Use firm, even pressure to saw straight through your cutting line and the slats. Saw the other side of the hole, using the edge of the center support as your cutting line and being careful not to over-cut.

Step 4 Drill Drainage Holes in Pan

Drill evenly spaced drainage holes into the bottom of both mud pans with the 3/8-inch bit. Be patient—it will take a while to bore through the pan. Plant the succulents, adding potting soil as needed, and drop the planted mud pans into the customized holes.

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