Build the Gardener’s Ultimate Potting Bench

Lucy Mercer
Print Friendly
Difficulty: Advanced
Duration: Weekend+

Introduction

Anyone with a love for gardening knows the value of an organized space to put your tools, terra cotta pots and potting mix, ideally with a workspace to nurture seedlings, pot up new containers and clean just-picked produce. This Ultimate Potting Bench is your problem solver. It’s 6 feet across, with a middle tier to make potting easier, and ample storage for tools and soil. This is a project for an experienced woodworker, but the result is a potting bench that will give you years of gardening pleasure. Download the drawings, instructions and cut list.

Step 1

Construct the frames. The bench is constructed of multiple frames suspended between the legs of the bench. All frame pieces are secured together with 3-inch screws. The first top frame is constructed using two 24 ¾-inch and two 20 ¼-inch pieces of 2 x 4-inch pressure-treated board. Label this frame “TOP A.”

Step 2

The second top frame uses two 30-inch and two 21 ¾-inch pressure-treated boards. The frame should have a 1 ½-inch indent along the back side. Label this frame “TOP B.”

Step 3

The third top frame is constructed using two 24 ¾-inch and two 20 ¼-inch pieces of 2 x 4-inch pressure-treated board. Label this frame “TOP C.”

Step 4

Lastly, construct the lower shelf frame using two 68 ¼-inch, two 24 ¾-inch and two 21 ¾-inch pressure-treated boards. The interior frame boards are inset 20 ¼ inches in from each respective side. Label this frame “BOTTOM.”

Step 5

Assemble the table. On each of the four cedar posts, use the square and pencil to create a line across the face of the posts 6 ½ inches from the bottom. Lay the post marked-side-up on the ground and use the lines you made as a guide for placing the BOTTOM frame. The top edge of the bottom frame should be even with the line and secured with screws driven from the inside of the frame and into the posts.

Step 6

With the frame still on the ground, add the TOP A and TOP C frames next. The top edges of the frames should be flush with the top of the posts and their outside edges.

Step 7

The back legs are constructed with the 60-inch-long 2 x 4 boards. Before placing the boards, guide lines need to be created. On each board, create a line at 6 ½ inches up from the bottom and another line at 33 inches up from the bottom. The 6 ½-inch line should be even with the top edge of the bottom frame. The 33-inch line should be even with the top edge of frames TOP A and TOP C.

Step 8

To help bind the bench sections together, drop frame TOP B into the middle of the bench. The top edge of frame TOP B should be even with the bottom edges of frames TOP A and TOP C. Secure the frame into place by driving screws from the inside of the frame into the post and rear legs. Once the middle frame is secured, stand the bench up with the help of a partner.

Step 9

Decking the bench. Lay all decking from back to front to make spacing easier. Use 2-inch exterior screws to hold planks in place. With the frame completed, add the decking, starting with the bottom shelf. The shelf is lined with five 71 ¼-inch-long decking boards arranged back to front with ¼-inch spacing between boards. Lay four of the boards down and check spacing before driving screws into the bottom frame. The front deck board is made up of the three pieces, two 23 ¼ inches each with a 3 ½ x 3 ½-inch notch cut into each end with the jig saw. This allows the board to fit around the posts. The middle board is 24 ¾ inches long.

Step 10

The three tiers of the bench are covered with five decking planks each spaced ¼-inch apart, just like the bottom shelf. The planks for frame Top A are 23 ¼ inches long and once test-fitted, can be screwed into place. The planks for frame TOP B are 24 ¾ inches long and once test-fitted can also be screwed into place. The planks for frame TOP C are also 23 ¼ inches long.

Step 11

The back board is made up of four 71 ¼-inch-long planks spaced 1 inch apart starting at the top and working down toward the bench top. Secure the planks with 2-inch-long exterior screws driven through the planks and into the rear legs.

Step 12

Finishing touches. The 1 x 11-inch x 6-foot shelf is slotted just below the topmost back plank and is supported by the shelf brackets. To hold your various garden tools, screw the square bend screw hooks (or whatever hooks you choose) into the backing planks and/or into the side panels of the bench.

Take time to think through how you will use the bench and embellish it with hooks, additional shelves and racks.

Step 13

We finished our bench with a coat of Behr Premium Plus Outdoor Stain in Natural. For maximum efficiency, locate the potting bench close to a hose and spigot so you can water seedlings and newly planted containers. This bench can be decorative, too, just fill it up with your favorite outdoor decor like lanterns, terra cotta pots and garden art from the Garden Center. For more ideas, see How to Customize a Potting Bench.

Materials

One 4” x 4” x 12’ pressure-treated post 

Cut List:

Four 33” posts

Five 2” x 4” x 12’ pressure-treated boards

Cut List:
Two 68 ¼” (Bottom Face Frame)
Four  60” (Rear Legs)
Four 20 ¼” (TOP A and C front and back)
Three 21 ¾” (TOP B front and back/ Bottom Inside Frame)
Six 24 ¾” (TOP A sides / TOP C sides / Bottom Outside Frame)

One 2” x 4” x 10’

Cut List:
Two 30” (TOP B sides)
One 21 ¾” (TOP B front and back/ Bottom Inside Frame)

Six 5/4” x 6” x 16’ pressure-treated decking boards

Cut List:
Eight 71 ¼”
Twelve 23 ¼”
Six 24 ¾”

One 1” x 12” x 6’ common board 

Cut List:
One 71 ¼”

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!