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Is this the ultimate living Christmas tree container? It disassembles. It has wheels.

Is this the ultimate living Christmas tree container? It disassembles. It has wheels

Mobile and dismountable, this five-part wooden container has two big advantages. First, casters on the bottom and strong handles on two sides make it relatively easy to move. Second, the sides come off, so you can check roots occasionally and keep the plant healthy; when roots begin to get crowded, you just shear off several inches of root-and-soil mass, put the sides back on, and fill the spaces with new potting soil.

For about $50, you can build the heavy-duty version shown here. It's big enough to hold a 15-gallon-size tree; use it for a living Christmas tree, a dwarf citrus, or any other large plant you want to keep in a container for a long time. Or adjust the size up or down to suit your own needs.

Choose lumber carefully. Measurements may need adjusting

To minimize the weight of the container, we used 1-by-8 rather than heavier lumber. But, since the wood is in contact with soil, it's important to build the container with the best lumber available. Look for construction heart rough redwood or tight-knot cedar with as few knots as possible. The exact width and thickness vary, depending on how the wood was milled: the thicker, the better.

Our diagrams allow for lumber that is a full 8 inches wide and slightly less than 1 inch thick. If your boards are less than 7/8 inch thick, you may have to adjust the width of the slots where the sides fit together: make them a bit wider than the boards, so everything slips together easily (remember, wood swells when wet).

Be sure the bottom measures 18 by 21 1/2 inches: if your boards are not 8 inches wide, you may also have to adjust the width of the middle bottom piece.

How to put the planter together

You'll need one 10-foot-long and four 8-foot-long 1-by-8s; four 24-inch lengths of 1/2-inch galvanized threaded pipe and eight hex-headed or round pipe caps; and four heavy-duty 2-inch casters.

It's easiest to cut all boards with a table saw. But you can make most cuts with a circular or radial-arm saw; just have a lumberyard make the lengthwise rips.

Cut two 8-foot 1-by-8s each into two 21 1/2-inch lengths and two 26-inch lengths. Cut a third 1-by-8 into one 21 1/2-inch length and two 26-inch lengths; rip the remainder to get a 5 1/2-inch width, then cut to 18 inches for the bottom center piece. Cut the fourth board into three 18-inch lengths (rip one into two 4-inch-wide pieces), one 19-inch length (rip into two 3-inch-wide pieces), and one 21 1/2-inch length.

Rip the 10-foot board into one 2-inch-wide piece and two 3-inch-wide pieces. Cut these into joint slats and support trim. If your 1-by-8s are actually slightly less or more than 8 inches wide, it's acceptable for one of the 3-inch-wide pieces to be a bit narrower or wider: use it to make the 19-inch lengths for the inside joint slats.

For greater stability, use 2 1/2-inch (8d) galvanized nails; bend over the exposed ends. An exception is where the support trim is attached to the long side overlap, which the pipes pass through; in that case, use 2-inch (6d) galvanized nails; angle them slightly so they don't go clear through the boards. If your lumber is thinner than an inch, use even shorter nails.

Finishing touches

Drill nine 1/2-inch drainage holes; drill eight 7/8-inch holes for the pipe handles. Once the five sections are complete, thinly coat the entire bottom and any other wood that will be in contact with soil with asphalt roof patch. (Use the kind with a jelly-like texture; it's available in most hardware stores.) Unless the slotted joints fit tightly, you can also thinly coat them.

Let the preservative dry a few days in a cool place before final assembly. Paint or stain the planter as you like. Use pipe caps as nuts to tighten the sides.

Photo: Growing outdoors, Scotch pine sits comfortably in its container; pipe handles unscrew and planter's sides come off for root pruning

Photo: Coming in for Christmas, the tree and heavy container are easy for two people to lift, using pipe handles on opposite sides. Casters underneath make box easy to roll

Photo: End of narrow side (A) fits into 1-inch slot (B). Bottom fits into 1-inch spaces (C), rests on lower crosspieces

Photo: Before nailing, check joint widths with scrap piece. Hold boards in place with finishing nails

Photo: Narrow sides and bottom slip into slots in wide sides. Pipe goes through holes in support trim

Photo: Caps tighten on 1/2-inch threaded pipe to cinch container sides together. Remove when you need to prune the roots
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1987
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