Make a bug house planter

Creating a wild flower patch in your garden is the perfect way to attract wildlife and looks beautiful too.

But what if you don’t have any grassy areas to convert over to a wild patch? What if your backyard consists of concrete slabs or you only have access to a balcony? 

This bug house wild flower planter by the Wildlife Gadgetman Jason Alexander could offer the perfect solution! Made out of scraps of timber and other natural materials, it can provide a perfect place to sow some of your Grow Wild wild flower seeds and provide five-star accommodation for visiting bugs and insects. 

Preparation time: approximately four hours, excluding the time you'll need to gather all your materials

Materials and tools:
  • Timber off-cuts and logs
  • Variety of natural materials including twigs, bamboo canes, moss, slate and broken clay plant pots
  • Plastic lining
  • Saw
  • Electric hand drill
  • Hammer
  • Assorted nails and screws
  • Low-VOC garden paint
  • Tape measure
  • Adjustable work bench or bench vice
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
Safety precautions: 

These instructions are suitable for adults and supervised children (+5). A word of warning – take extra care when drilling holes: always securely grip the log using a bench vice, adjustable work bench or similar. Wear safety glasses and gloves when necessary. 

Instructions:

1. Gather your materials

The great thing about creating this type of planter is that you can recycle any scrap timber you may have lying around. The planter you'll see in the pictures was crafted from 2.4m length of decking and some odd ends of 2x2 timber. You can adjust the shape and size of your planter depending on the quantity of materials you have and the space you have available. You can use a wide variety of natural materials to fill the bug house part of your planter. Cut logs of various diameters, twigs, bamboo canes, moss, slate, broken clay plant pots and so on.

2. Drill lots of holes

One of the key elements of making any bug house is to create as many cavities as possible. Different shapes and sizes will attract a wider variety of species. Use a 8-10mm drill bit and drill holes in larger logs to a depth of at least 100mm. 

3. Cut timber for planter frame

Cut your timber to suit depending on the final size of your planter. Try to make sure the bug house cavity is at least 125-150mm deep to give plenty of spaces for bugs and insects to shelter.

4. Construct the planter

Time to build the planter! Try to make sure your cuts are square. This will make it much easier to screw it all together. It doesn’t matter if its not perfect though, once its covered in gorgeous wild flowers and buzzing with insect activity it will look amazing.

5. Paint the planter

This stage is optional - depending on your timber you may prefer to leave it totally untreated (which is ideal). Strictly speaking you should avoid any treated materials but as long as you limit their use to a minimum the bug house should still offer ideal accommodation.

6. Add a plastic lining 

This next stage is the perfect way to use those empty plastic bird food sacks you’ve been saving or recycling. Cut the sack open and use half to cover the inside of the bug house cavity and the other half in the planter trough above.

7. Gather materials around you and start adding logs

It's much easier to gather filling materials in buckets, tubs or boxes before you start filling the bug house. Now for the fun bit! Start adding the drilled logs and other materials to fill the bug house cavity. Start by placing the larger logs first and then gradually move to smaller pieces.

8. Pack them in tight

Try to pack the filling in as tight as you can. It will get harder as you try to fill smaller and smaller gaps. Use a hammer to tap in the final pieces.

9. Sow your Grow Wild seeds

Once you’ve finished the bug house its time to sow those wild flower seeds. Now might be a good time to move the planter into its final position as it will be very heavy when filled with soil. Fill the planter trough with soil, the more impoverished the better and then sprinkle a generous pinch of the seeds across the surface. Sprinkle a light covering of soil over the seeds and then give them a good soak with the watering can.

10. You're done!

And that’s it - all you have to do now is wait for the wild flowers to grow and the first tenants to move in.