Build the Practical Monterey Potting Center Build the Practical Monterey Potting Center

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Carpenter's Square
Electric Drill With Phillips Head Drill Bit (for driving deck screws)
Twist Drill Bits
Adjustable Wrench or 3 / 8-inch Socket
C-clamps and Hand or Power Saw

Whether you are displaying prize bonsai or potting new impatiens, this free-standing redwood potting center creates a peaceful sanctuary and will give years of service.

Construction Common, Deck Common, Merchantable Heart and Merchantable are knotty garden grades of redwood and offer a colorful mix of sapwood and heartwood. Wherever increased decay resistance is needed, use the all-heartwood grades: Construction Heart, Deck Heart or Merchantable Heart.

A good starter do-it-yourself project, the potting center is constructed in simple sections, then fastened together with carriage bolts, washers and nuts for easy set up or knock down. There are plans on the back of this brochure that show an easy-to-build redwood can cradle or a redwood storage bin to complement your potting center.

Measure and cut as you build for best results. Use only non-corrosive nails, bolts and screws to prevent staining. Predrill nail holes to minimize splitting near board ends.

Materials for Monterey Potting Center
Quantity Size Length
Legs 4 2x4 7 feet
Leg Braces 6 2x4 27-3/8 inches
Roof Supports 2 2x4 6 feet
Roof Slats 14 1x4 36 inches
Middle Shelf Slats 13-20* 1x4 24 inches
Middle Shelf Frames 2 2x4 45-1/2 to 72 inches*
Bottom Shelf Slats 13 1x4 24 inches
Bottom Shelf Frames 2 2x4 45-1/2 inches
Upper Shelf Slats 4-6* 1x4 45-1/2 inches
Upper Shelf Cross Braces 4 1x4 7 to 10-1/2 inches*
Carriage Bolts, Washers and Nuts 24 sets 3/8 3-1/2 inches
Nails 1 pound 3d, 6d, 16d
Deck Screws 1 pound 1-1/4, 2 inches
Rafters 16 2x6 9 feet

Start with a Leg Up

On a level surface, lay out two seven-foot 2x4s on edge to start the first leg module (illustration at right, top). Trim three 2x4s to 27-3/8 inches for one leg brace and two shelf supports.

Attach the leg brace flush to the bottom of the legs, using two 16d nails or two 3-1/2-inch deck screws per joint. Attach the shelf supports 16 and 32 inches from the top of the legs. Repeat these steps for constructing the second potting center leg module.

Raise the Roof

The six-foot-long roof calls for fourteen 36-inch 1x4 slats spaced approximately 1-1/2 inches apart and with a front overhang of 12 inches. This spacing will give plants moderate sun protection. Vary the slat quantity and spacing to suit your shading requirements.

Lay out the 2x4 roof supports on edge and spaced 24 inches apart. Attach the end slats first, flush to the rear support and overhanging the front. Use two 6d nails or two 2-inch deck screws per joint. Position the rest of the roof slats with equal spaces, approximately 1-1/2 inches, before attaching them.

Build the Middle Shelf

With a few minor construction changes, the middle shelf can be built to provide various work or display areas. Here are three options:

Overhang with Drainage

This variation, shown at left, turns the overhang area into a work surface with water drainage. On six-foot-long frames, lay out thirteen 1x4 slats in the center without spaces and then space three slats at each end 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches apart. Attach with 6d nails or 2-inch deck screws.

Simple Overhang

In this design, the middle shelf is gap-free and overhangs the potting center legs by about 11 inches at each side. Trim twenty 1x4 slats to 24 inches. Begin assembly by laying two six-foot 2x4 middle shelf frames on edge, spaced to 24 inches. Starting at one end, attach all the slats without spaces with nails or screws. Trim the shelf frames to this length.

No Overhang

For a more compact potting center, construct the middle shelf using just 13 slats with no spacing and no overhang. Follow the directions for the bottom shelf.

Build the Bottom Shelf

Trim two 2x4 shelf frames to 45-1/2 inches or to match the length of 13 slats nailed side by side with no spaces. Trim thirteen 1x4 slats to 24 inches. Drive two 6d nails or 2-inch deck screws through the slat ends to attach them to the shelf frames. Pre-drill nail holes.

Build the Upper Shelves

Use two or three slats per shelf for the upper shelves, trimmed to 45-1/2 inches. Trim 1x4 cross braces to match the width of the slats and drive 3d nails or 1-1/4-inch screws through 1x4 slats into the cross braces. These braces secure the shelving to the structure.

Putting it All Together

Join the potting center modules together by drilling two 3 / 8-inch bolt holes through the legs and frames at each junction, starting with the bottom shelf, which rests on the bottom leg brace. This job will be easier if you temporarily clamp the frames or the roof supports into position while drilling. Measure carefully and check for square. Use non-corrosive 3/8-inch by 3-1/2-inch carriage bolts with washers and nuts.


Lightly sand all cut ends. Apply a clear water repellent or stain containing a mildewcide and UV protector to extend the life of your project.

Courtesy of the California Redwood Association.

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