How we made a DIY Umbrella Stand (with built-in storage!)

When we first looked at this house as potential buyers, we weren’t quite sure what to think of the pond. We never specifically looked for a property with water and had no experience with maintaining a pond; however, one step out onto the patio looking out onto the water and we were hooked. We knew this could be a very special place for our family and now three years later, we absolutely love it and are out there all the time. The previous owners created a small beach area along the edge of the water and installed a little wooden deck beside it. This has become my favorite spot to lounge and read a book while watching the kids play in the sand and swim. The one thing it was missing was an option for shade and this year I decided it was high time to come up with a solution – and we did!

We looked at weighted umbrella stands, but most options would’ve cost around $500 and we weren’t even confident what we chose wouldn’t tip over since the deck is not near anything to block a strong wind. Instead, we came up with a DIY version that not only looks much cuter (in my humble opinion haha) but is sturdier and MUCH less expensive. Granted, we used a lot of scrap wood and supplies we already had, but this version cost us right around $200. Today I’m sharing all the details with how we did it step-by-step. Here we go!

Materials

Umbrella Stand

16″ x 16″ outdoor planter

-umbrella – I used this one

-4×4 wood for filler (optional)

-level

concrete mix + water

-5 gallon bucket

-large stirring stick (we used an old broom handle)

-spade

-large piece of cardboard (we used the box the planter came in)

-box cutter

Tabletop

-3/4 inch plywood

-1 x 1/2 inch slats of wood (I used pine)

-black spray paint

-wood stain

-wood glue

-nail gun + 1 inch nails

spar urethane spray paint

-other tools used: table saw, miter saw, jigsaw

Umbrella Stand Directions

I wanted something that felt streamlined and modern so I bought this planter off of Amazon for the base of the stand. Justin took an old wooden 4×4 post we had in our scrap wood pile and cut it down to create a filler border around the inside edge. This is not a necessary step, but he did it to reduce the amount of concrete used and the overall weight of the finished product.

We plugged the hole at the bottom with the plastic gasket that came with the planter and moved the whole thing around outside until we found level ground.

Justin poured the concrete mix into a bucket and added water according to the directions, using an old broom handle to stir the mix.

Once the concrete mix had reached the desired consistency, he poured it into the planter and used a small spade to smooth the top flat.

Justin ended up using about 1 1/3 bags of concrete. I think one bag would have been sufficient if your umbrella is going to be near a house or other structure that would help to block wind, but since ours is out on a deck with no windbreak around it, we wanted a little extra stability.

Then it was time for the most meticulous part – getting the umbrella stand perfectly in place. This can be done solo but was easier with two people, as one of us used a tape measure from side to side in each direction to find the exact center while the other carefully set the pole in place, then we used the level to make sure it wasn’t crooked. We also stepped back and visually confirmed with one another from all angles that the pole looked straight up and down. We really took our time with this step and it was well worth it!

Once we were fully satisfied that the pole was not crooked, I took a piece of cardboard from the box the planter arrived in and used a box cutter to cut an “x” in the center. I slid the hole made by the x down over the pole and it created a kind of holder to keep the pole from moving in the wind. We weighted it down with some scrap wood and shovels and left it to dry and set for about 36 hours.

Our original plan was to stop here and fill the top half of the planter with soil and flowers, which I think would’ve been lovely! But before we could do it, we actually used the umbrella over the weekend when friends came to visit and we quickly realized that the base made an awesome catch-all spot for sunscreen, books, phones, etc. I was immediately inspired and came up with a vision for a removable tabletop that allowed us to access the storage underneath.

Tabletop Directions

Once I explained my vision to Justin, he was excited to jump right in. He used his table saw and miter saw to cut down a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to size (in two pieces) to fit inside the planter.

He then used a jigsaw to cut a small notch on the edge of each piece of plywood for the umbrella pole to fit through.

Tip: Justin spent a lot of time on these first two steps measuring and re-measuring to make sure the pieces would fit as flush to the inside edges of the planter as possible. We’re not including dimensions, because every planter and umbrella will be slightly different and it’s important to measure your own to make sure it fits well!

Once the pieces were cut to size I spray painted each one black.

I wanted slats for the tabletop, but rather than buy new wood, we had leftover pine 1×5’s from the DIY clothing rack I made last year and Justin took one and ripped it down into one inch wide strips. He cut them to length so that they would hang over the edge of the plywood by a half inch and I tested a few stains from my stash before landing on Varathane’s Golden Oak.

Justin applied a small bead of wood glue to the back of each piece, then used a nail gun and one inch nails to secure each slat in place (he used a thin piece of scrap plywood in between each one to evenly space them out). This is one step where I didn’t communicate my vision with Justin well and I wish we would’ve spaced the nail holes differently, but honestly, it’s fine and doesn’t bother me too much!

He used the jigsaw again to cut a notch in the top slats that matched the one in the plywood underneath and I stained that little notch as well.

Since this is going to be outside, I sprayed several light coats of clear spar urethane over everything to give it a good protective coat. We let it dry overnight and then we installed it in the planter.

I am in LOVE with how this turned out – it honestly looks like it was always meant to be this way! I love that Justin took the extra time to make sure the slats were cut and spaced in a way that created an equal amount of space around the edge all the way around. It looks so good!

The top lifts off easily to provide plenty of storage underneath – it’s so nice to have a shaded place to store things out of the way!

Here’s a close-up of how the top looks in place. The plywood goes all the way to the edge inside and the slats keep it in place with a half inch overhang.

I have to give a huge shoutout to Justin here. This umbrella stand was my vision, as was the design of the tabletop, and he worked to execute my vision perfectly! I am so thrilled with how it turned out.

Ultimately, there is still a lot of work to do here. The deck actually needs completely replaced (boards are warping and breaking off) and we have plans to expand it to accommodate more people. For now though, this is such a nice little spot to hang out and enjoy and I’m thrilled that we now have the option for shade. In fact, it’s calling to my eight-month-pregnant self and I think I’ll spend some time out there today!

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