Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Umbrella stand/planter

And speaking of umbrella stands, I first saw this on "Gardening by the Yard." So when I recently moved an umbrella out to the wine patio for shade, I got to thinking...

I've made some small tweaks to the original design, primarily because that teeny little container they chose for the umbrella stand wouldn't remain upright for a minute in one of our spring windstorms. I made mine bigger and embedded some rings to create tie-downs. I'm not going to repeat the whole step-by-step process. They've outlined it pretty well on their website. However, here are a few comments about the tweaks, with photos:

I had all these paint can keys lying around the shop:
And I got to thinking that with that little hook on the end, they might make a good tie-down ring. So I drilled three holes in the side of a 20-inch terra cotta pot using a masonry bit. I placed the holes just below where I thought the top of my concrete would be, then I stuck the keys in:

As seen from the inside:

As seen from the outside:

The idea, of course, is that the concrete would latch onto that little hook on the end and hold the key in place. I'll use these to tie into ground anchors set between the flagstones of the patio.

Then I filled the base with gravel, stuck three wooden dowels in place for drainage (first liberally coated with cooking spray to make them easier to remove later), per the GbtY instructions, and stuck a re-purposed metal fence post in the center (previously cut to size with my trusty recip saw). GbtY recommended two to three inches of concrete, but I put a whole 80 lb. bag of professional grade, crack-resistant Quickrete in there to create about five or six inches. As I said, we get some wind...

Level the pot and plumb the post:

Let everything start to set up:

When the concrete was unmovable, but not yet completely dry (about 45 minutes later), I removed the wooden dowels:

Then I let the concrete cure overnight. The next day I cut a circle of landscaping fabric to keep potting mix from going down the drainage holes and slipped it over the post:

Then I filled the top with potting mix. Doing this now would keep some moisture in and slow the drying time of the concrete, which would help the concrete cure more fully:

After a couple of more days, I stuck the umbrella in and planted some flowers:

 Et voila!

I'll take another pic later in the summer, after the flowers have filled out a bit.


  1. That's a very cool idea. That'll make your wine patio even that much better.

  2. That worked out great! Quite tempting, really. Well, we'll see.

  3. cool! I like that you made it your own instead of following instructions like you were told :)

  4. Because clay is very porous, you have to water this often. Otherwise, if the soil dries out, the whole thing tips over. I know!!

  5. Clay pots are porous and dry out quickly. You will have to water often. If the soil dries out, the whole thing will tip over. I know!! Putting rocks in the bottom of the pot will prevent the tipping over.

  6. I am not sure this would work in cold climates like Michigan. I wouldn't be able to move the planter filled with concrete and it would probably crack if I left it out in the winter.

    Does anyone have any ideas I haven't though of?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.