How to Build a Simple Potting Bench.

4 Materials
1 Hour

I’ve been wanting to make a potting bench for years. I finally decided this is the year to make it but the catch is that I didn’t want to buy anything new for it. Reality was that I did need to buy some screws but the rest was from dismantled projects or things that I had on hand. Also, my fence pickets that make up the majority of this project come pressure treated so you do not have to stain or seal these. I love that.

This potting bench is made from 7 fence pickets (about $2 apiece), 2 stair treads ($12 apiece), 2 shelf brackets ($10) And 4 fence post tops. I don’t remember what the fence post tops cost but omitting that, the cost is about $48.

I put the stair tread with the fence post tops as feet upright and used screws to attach the pickets to the back. So, guess what? The back legs (fence post tops) are not needed. The fence pickets act as back legs and if you want to save some bucks on the front legs just use 2 by 4’s.

Here is where the work surface and my bottom for this project originated.

I attached the two ends first. For the third picket placement, I went to the center and placed it in the middle. The remaining 4 pickets were added just eyeballing the distance.

All 7 are attached. Next comes the work surface.

I added the brackets and attached each picket to the stair tread with screws. These shelf brackets aren’t really necessary because I ended up adding supports later on. But I will say these brackets made it easier for me to assemble by myself.

Next supports for top shelf. I had a piece of scrap that measured 5 1/2 inches across. I measured 5 1/2 inches and cut two square pieces and then cut the two pieces on the diagonal to make the shelf supports.

Finally, I added the shelf and attached it with screws through each picket.

I added four 2 by 2s at each corner of my work surface.

I added cross braces in a “pallet” fashion. 3 on the outside and one on the middle of the inside.

I love it!

The only change I want to make is the shelf on the bottom. I want to find a wider piece of wood or two piece to fit that area better.

I am so proud that I shopped my garage and didn’t purchase anything new to make it. Just the screws.

What do you think? Could you use a potting bench?

I’m ready to start spring planting now. How about you? Anyone winter sowing? I thought I might try that this year.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Judy Buldak
    on Feb 24, 2020

    Did you stain or varnish the wood?

    • Stacy Davis
      on Feb 24, 2020

      The top stair tread is stained and the bottom is painted. They both were done about two years and sat on my covered porch. Both held up remarkably well since they’ve been outside through many seasons.

  • Aaron Choquette
    on Feb 24, 2020

    Did you use a moisture sealant to seal the wood from water rotting?

    • Stacy Davis
      on Feb 24, 2020

      No, I didn’t. But you sure can if you want. I am looking for a plastic boot tray to put on top to contain most of the mess. Plus you just pick it up and dump the excess dirt when you’re done planting/potting. And if you do want something to seal your wood, I’ve heard hardware stores sell a varnish for boats that would work well.

  • Betty
    on Feb 29, 2020

    I'd really like to know what paint and what color you used. I love the blue.

    • Patty
      on Mar 11, 2020

      Do you have a website showing more about how to do this. You don't say what size the stair trends are or what size the shelf brackets are?

Join the conversation

2 of 24 comments
  • Cma42148096
    on Jun 2, 2020

    Looks great!

  • Nancy
    on Jun 23, 2020

    NICELY DONE! I have been looking to make a simple potting bench. Your project has inspired me. I love how you used materials on hand. I do not have stair treads, but I do have some nice lumber I picked up on the clearance cart at Home Depot that will work great for the shelves. I love how you used fence pickets, I have used them on projects as well - they are so cheap if you need to buy them.

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