How to Make an Outdoor Potting Bench How to Make an Outdoor Potting Bench

What You'll Need
Saw (circular, hand or table)
Measuring tape
Wood glue
Lumber (recycled pallet or new)

Repotting plants is never a fun process when you have to do it inside the confines of a shed or garage. Not only are you stuck indoors, but you also have to walk to and from your garden to get things done. A simple solution is to build your own outdoor potting bench. Although this may seem like a daunting task for some DIYers, building a potting bench is actually pretty easy and can be done over a weekend.

Step 1 - Draw Plans

You can make an outdoor potting bench out of recycled lumber, like wood from an old pallet, or you can purchase the lumber new. But first, you’ll need to make plans so that you know all the dimensions of the potting bench. If you are using recycled lumber, you may have to adjust your plans based on the dimensions of your supply. In general, you need enough lumber to make two shelves and a backboard for hanging tools. A top shelf height of 60 inches with a length of 34 inches is a good place to start.

Step 2 - Make a Cut List

Someone cutting lumber.

Once you have the plans drawn out and the lumber in hand, you can start cutting all the pieces to your potting bench. The biggest key is to make sure all the boards are uniform and square. If you are using recycled wood, put the nicer pieces aside and use them on the front of the bench, leaving the blemished pieces for the parts that are not visible.

Step 3 - Construct the Legs

With all the pieces cut, you can start constructing the potting bench. The easiest place to begin is with the legs. Start by attaching the front legs, which run all the way to the top shelf, with the rear legs of the bench. The rear legs will provide structural support for the backboard and run the entire length of the structure. Attach the legs with one perpendicular board via wood glue and screws. Repeat the process for the right and left side of the bench.

Step 4 - Connect the Legs

Add a board at the rear and front of the bench to attach the legs together. These boards, sometimes called the skirts, will also provide a place to attach the boards for the top shelf. You can add a few pieces of wood in between the front and back skirts for added support.

Step 5 - Install the Top Shelf

With the frame in place, install the boards for the countertop. These boards should run lengthwise and sit flush with each other. You can slightly overlap the front board with the front skirt for an added touch.

Step 6 - Construct the Bottom Shelf

You can use the top shelf as a reference point on where you want to install the bottom shelf. Once you select the desired height, measure and mark the correct distance along the inside of all four legs. Secure a board with screws alongside these marks, from the back to the front legs. With these two boards in place, screw in the planks that make up the bottom shelf. They should run in the same direction as the top shelf.

Step 7 - Build the Back

The back of the potting bench is the last piece to construct. Start by installing a top board between the two back legs. Then screw in the backing boards, spacing them around five inches apart. You can install a peg board on the back as well, depending on the type of tools and your hanging system. Finish the project by installing wedges in each corner for extra support.

Step 8 - Finishing

A wood potting bench with a red watering can.

You will need to sand the entire surface and apply some level of finish to guard against the elements. If you want to go with a more natural look, you can simply apply a coat of polyurethane and call it good. You can also stain the wood or paint it to match existing outdoor decor. If you decide on painting, it's recommended to use at least two primer coats.

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