DIY Ladder Plant Stand

4 Materials
2 Hours
We had this old ladder sitting around in our yard that we picked up at a thrift store years ago and we could never decide what to do with it. I finally decided to turn it into a tiered plant stand, and I can't believe I didn't do it sooner! This project is so, so easy, but the results are incredible! If you like this project, you can see more easy and affordable DIY ideas right here.
I started off with an old wooden ladder. I think I got this one from a flea market about 5 years ago for maybe $20. Don't worry too much about how rough it's looking - as long as it's still sturdy, you're good!
I gave the entire ladder a few coats of white paint. I didn't stress much about sanding it down or getting it perfectly smooth beforehand - this is a project that looks good when it's a little rustic, and since it's going to live outside, it's not going to stay pristine anyways!
Next up, we grabbed some cedar 1X4 boards and cut them down to size, then drilled supports on the bottom to turn them into a shelf. We originally measured out a specific length from each rung so the shelves would be the same on either side, but once we got the plants on there we realized some plants needed more space, and as you can see in the finished project, our shelves ended up being more asymmetrical.

I'd recommend just starting with 12-16 inches or so on either side and then cut down from there depending on your plants.

Here, you can see what the bottom of the shelves looked like (before we had screwed the supports in). Our shelves are 3 boards wide (everywhere but on the top, where we only had room for 2), and we left about 1/4 inch spacing in-between each board to allow any water to drain out. All we did to put these together was lay the boards out with a small space in-between each one (we used a chair, a sawhorse would probably work better though!), grab a short piece of cedar 2X4, and drilled it in from the bottom on either side.

We spaced the supports so that they would fit on the outside of the rungs and help prevent the shelves from moving too much. You can see more details on this process on the blog post.
This is how it looked before we added plants (and began cutting shelves down a bit)...
And here it is all filled up! Once we arranged our plants, we cut some shelves away to allow room for the taller plants, and we actually like the random look a lot more than we did before!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 4 questions
  • Amber Parrott Amber Parrott on Jan 21, 2019

    how long is each plank?

  • Stephanie Patterson Stephanie Patterson on Apr 27, 2019

    I have an old ladder, but I cannot figure out how to get the boards level going from round supports and of course flat steps, Can you explain this better? thanks!

  • Sharron Sharron on Jun 13, 2021

    Not a question but a commnet. The ladder is nifty and the macrame is stunning. Did you make the macarme? I love this and plan to make it. Thanks.

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2 of 24 comments
  • River River on Apr 28, 2019

    What a clever idea, this is so cool! I never would have thought to make anything like this out of a ladder, you have a great imagination! Amazing, thanks so much for sharing!

  • Andrea Lavin Andrea Lavin on Apr 28, 2019

    We made a book shelf out of an old ladder, we painted the ladder a teal green. It turned out great.