A Simple DIY Potting Bench You Can Make In A Day

One warm and sunny morning while enjoying coffee on the deck I mentioned to Mr. Frugalista that I would love to have a potting bench in our back yard. Over our second coffee with pen and paper in hand, we came up with a plan. Deciding it was the perfect day for a DIY, we headed to Home Depot to pick up the materials and got to work building our Simple DIY Potting Bench.

A Simple DIY Potting Bench Graphic

A Simple DIY Potting Bench You Can Make In An Afternoon

I say it is a simple potting bench because it can be built in an afternoon.

Simple DIY Potting Bench

For those of you who have been following me for a few years, this potting bench may look somewhat familiar.

DIY Potting Bench Outdoor Bar

Now you're probably thinking, wait a minute there are a few things different between the top photo and the one above, and you'd be right.

We recently modified the design, added some new elements, and changed its function. We'll get into the meat and potatoes of how to build it near the bottom of the post but first, let me refresh your memory.

UPDATE: June 2017

The first thing we did was turn it around to face into the yard.

Added a shelf

I found some metal brackets at the dollar store and so we took a pine fence board and added a shelf.

DIY Potting Bench Shelf

The wooden birdhouse on the shelf has since received makeover...with napkins. You can catch that here at A Decoupaged Birdhouse.

Lowered the bottom shelf

We also lowered the bottom shelf on the potting bench to accommodate a watering can and large plant pots.

DIY Potting Bench Lower Shelf

Added some decorative hooks

I also found some fun metal garden hooks at the dollar store for hanging my garden tools.

DIY Potting Bench Decorative Garden Tool Hook

Turned candleholders into solar lights

I moved the metal candle sconces onto each side of the potting bench. They were originally purchased at HomeSense (Canadian version of HomeGoods) for a song because one was brown and the other black and so I unified them with black spray paint. It looks like they could use another fresh coat of paint, which has been added to my To Do List.

Recently I replaced the candles with solar lights that I got at the dollar store. All I did was detach the light kit from the stem and shorten it with a miter saw. The stem was attached to the base of the candleholder with E6000 glue.

DIY Potting Bench Replacing Candle with Solar Light

Once the glue was cured I reattached the light kit, put the glass back onto the candleholder and voila, the potting bench is lit up automatically every night.

DIY Potting Bench Candleholder with Solar Light

A brand new top

But the biggest change we made was replacing the plank top with wide pine fence boards stained with both Behr semi-transparent exterior stain in Natural Cedar and a wash of Dixie Belle Paint Company Voodoo Stain in the color Tobacco Road.

DIY Potting Bench Plank Top

A look at the old top

Let's take a trip down memory lane for a minute. Originally we built the bench to be both a Potting Bench and an Outdoor Bar. The top was built to accommodate a removable tray.

DIY Potting Bench Bar Opening

The idea was that I could fill the tray with soil and once the flowers were planted, I could place the pots on the tray and carry them to the flower beds.

DIY Potting Bench Tray

When having bonfires in the fire pit, the bench was used as an Outdoor Bar. We could simply remove the tray and pop our painted Coleman cooler into the opening.

DIY Potting Bench Bar with cooler insert

Great idea right?

In theory but neither the tray or the cooler held up very well and in hindsight, I wish we had recessed either a small stainless steel sink or large galvanized bucket.

We have since repurposed an old lattice tiered table into an Outdoor Portable Bar Cart that can be easily moved from our deck to the firepit. Hence the reason the bench's sole purpose now is that of a Potting Bench.

DIY Backyard Potting Bench

The frame of the potting bench is painted with Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint in the color Antique Red with a wash of Tobacco Road stain.

DIY Medallions

I couldn't remove the medallions on the original design for the life of me (a testament to how strong E6000 glue is). So I kept them on but painted over them with the antique red paint color so they're more subtle.

If you're wondering how they were made, I pressed Sculpey Baking Clay into plastic candy molds. Once I got a good impression I popped them out of the molds and baked them in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet at 275° for 15 minutes. Once cooled, I attached them onto the potting bench with E6000 glue.

DIY Potting Bench Medallions

DIY Sign

I made a sign from a scrap piece of wood when the bench was being used as a bar.
DIY Potting Bench Bar Sign

I recently gave it a makeover befitting a potting bench. I happened to have an old floral brooch in my stash that was perfect to glue onto the sign.

DIY Potting Bench Sign

The fun part was shopping for accessories for the new and improved potting bench, all of which I found at either the dollar store or Wal-Mart. I don't call myself The Interior Frugalista for nothing!

DIY Potting Bench Herb Garden

I'm much happier with the new look of the potting bench. My hope when planning this DIY for our backyard was that it would turn my black thumb green. Even the peas in the forefront of the photo below are hoping it's so.

If you like my DIY Potting Bench, please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest.
A Simple DIY Potting Bench
For those of you who may be interested in building this Simple DIY Potting Bench, please read on for detailed instructions.

Materials List

  • 2 x 4 lumber (10)
  • 1 x 1 lumber (3)
  • 6-foot Pine Fence Boards (4)
  • 7-foot Pine Fence Boards (4)
  • 4 x 8 Cedar Lattice (1 sheet)
  • 2-inch Galvanized Wood Screws
  • 1 1/4-inch Brad Nails
  • Behr semi-transparent exterior stain in Natural Cedar
  • Dixie Belle Paint Company VooDoo Stain in Tobacco Road
  • Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Antique Red
  • Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Spray Paint in Fossil 
  • Minwax Exterior Satin Polycrylic

Unfortunately, we were so engrossed in our project that I forgot to take pictures during the building process. If you are handy, you can probably get a good idea how it was built from the picture below.

DIY Potting Bench Bar

Hopefully, you will find my written tutorial below easy to follow. Refer to the photo above each subheading for reference.

Building the back frame

  1. Cut two 2 x 4's 5-feet long for your uprights.
  2. Attach a 6-foot 2 x 4 at the top of each upright using galvanized wood screws.
  3. 22-inches down from the top attach a second 6-foot 2 x 4 but turn it upright (like the ones pictured on the front).

    Building the front frame and adding side supports

    1. Cut two 2 x 4's 3-feet long for your front uprights.
    2. Cut four pieces of 2 x 4 2-feet long.
    3. Attach each of them onto both the front and back uprights 6-inches from the bottom.
    4. Repeat 22-inches down from the top. These are your shelf supports (see update below).
    5. Attach two 6-foot long 2 x 4's onto the front supports making sure everything is square and level.

      Adding the lattice

      1. Cut 4 pieces of 1 x 1 lumber 6-feet long.
      2. Cut 4 pieces of 1 x 1 lumber 21-inches long.
      3. On the back of the top 2 x 4's nail a piece of 6-foot 1 x 1 onto the top and bottom of the frame.
      4. Repeat with the 21-inch pieces on each side. This will hold the lattice in place.
      5. Cut the 8' x 4' sheet of cedar lattice into 6' x 2' .
      6. Spray paint the lattice with Rust-oleum spray paint in the color fossil, a moss green or the color of your choosing.
      7. Double up the lattice for both strength and in our case, to hide the unsightly wood pile behind the bench. 
      8. Attach the lattice to the 1 x 1 frame using brad nails.
      9. Repeat steps 3 & 4 onto the front. This will sandwich the lattice between the 1x1 frames.
      DIY Potting Bench Lattice

      Adding a bottom shelf

      1. Rip four 6-foot pine fence boards in half with the table saw for narrow slats on the bottom shelf. If you prefer wider slats then skip this step.
      2. Attach them to the bottom frame with 2-inch galvanized wood screws. 
      DIY Potting Bench Bottom Shelf

        Building the top

        I'm giving you both options to build the top...

        Option 1 - Wide Plank Top 

        1. Cut 4 7-foot pine fence boards 75-inches long.
        2. Screwed from the top onto the bottom supports.
        3. Space the boards evenly with a gap between each board. We used a paint stir stick.

        Option 2 - Narrow Plank Top With Opening

        1. Rip four 7-foot pine fence boards in half on the table saw. 
        2. Cut them into 75-inch lengths.
        3. Attach them to the frame with 2-inch galvanized wood screws.
        4. Draw the outline of the vessel you plan on using for soil and/or ice onto the board with a pencil.
        5. Cut out the opening with a jigsaw.
        6. Add supports underneath the boards on each side of the opening. Screw them in place from the bottom or top with 2-inch galvanized wood screws.
        So there you have it, a simple rustic DIY Potting Bench that you can make in an afternoon.

        You will find this project shared at these fabulous Link Parties.