Working with a potting bench during gardening season is pure luxury and you’ll find yourself looking forward to puttering away at your own little garden center.
You can have everything organized in one location including bags of potting soil, empty pots and containers, hanging tools, plant food and fertilizers (just make sure to store them in airtight containers so the rain won’t get in) and even a bucket for garbage storage or compost bin collecting if you like.
Here are over a dozen free plans for you to review, pick one you like and you can build it over a day or two then enjoy it during this year’s season. The projects below vary from beginner to advanced woodworking skills with both simple and elaborate designs offered–a little something for everyone.
Bonus! Once you start using the bench, you’ll realize how nice it is working on a near-waist high surface, no more constant bending over while you fill your pots with soil (priceless!).
|Cedar : Nice tutorial showing how to build a handy bench in just a weekend. This project features two back shelves, a grate covered dirt catcher, a built in potting soil center, side hooks for hanging tools, a work space and a bottom storage area.|
Complete plans are available (4 pages of instructions), with an illustrated plan graphic that can be downloaded via pdf (found here ).
Complexity is noted as Moderate with costs from $100 to $500 to build (depending on the materials you have on hand already).
|Redwood or Cedar : This is a simple design and perfect for beginner woodworkers, out of all the plans presented here – this one is closest to the one I currently have.|
Nothing too fancy, but it serves its purpose perfectly!
The project features a top shelf, large top work surface, a bottom shelf for storage and sturdy construction with notched framing. You can easily add side hooks for hanging tools if you like (I find that a handy feature). Plans are available via the sherrysgreenhouse.com website, parts list can be found here .
|Backyard Center : Download free plans for this good-looking workbench. Nice and sturdy, painted white or any color you wish.|
Skill level is rated for the intermediate woodworker.
The finished product is 5 feet long, 63″ tall and features a top work surface, a bottom shelf for storage and a galvanized metal screen with 1-inch-square openings along the back side of the bench, between the top shelf and the main workbench frame. Slip large S-hooks into the screening in order to hang garden tools. Plans are available in a pdf download (found here ) from Sunset Magazine.
|Sunset Work Center : A table project for the intermediate woodworker, this is another free set of plans made available by Sunset Magazine.|
The finished product measures a luxurious 8 feet long, a 5 foot tall back and features plastic lattice insets that you can use to easily hang tools from as well as cover the bottom storage area, a sheet metal top work surface.
Update: The plans no longer seem to be available on the site (as a download), but the tutorial is still accessible.
|The Mobile Table : Make this move-around project in a single weekend and get set for a “blooming” Summer season!|
This 36″ tall station features wooden wheels that enable you to cart around your table as needed. Offers an alternative solution of buying wheels and steel axle instead. Features 4×4 legs, 1 1/2″ thick top work counter and bottom storage shelf.
|Design Plans Only : Attractive practicality is the order of the day with this handy-dandy bench.|
Features a top shelf for holding bedding plants or small pots, a recessed plastic pan built into the top work counter to hold soil, a back splash and top bar with hooks for holding hanging tools and a bottom storage shelf.
There are no detailed instructions or a tutorial but there is a graphic displaying design plans. Found at the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association website [wrcla.org].
|Monterey (pdf) : A good starter do-it-yourself project, this 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 project.|
This features a 6 foot long roof, upper shelves, top work surface and bottom storage shelf. Instructions are available via pdf download and provided by the California Redwood Association [calredwood.org].
|Cedar With Wheels : Here’s a simple yet sturdy bench with castor wheels that will last for years. If you’re looking for something that isn’t too fussy and can be easily carted around the yard, this is the project for you.|
It features a large work surface, a bottom storage shelf and an optional framed wire mesh back to hang your garden tools from.
Easy to follow instructions available in web page format and found at Home Envy by ToolGirl Mag Ruffman [homeenvy.com].
|With Cubbies : Lots of nice features in this project including plenty of organizing shelves on top, a hatch with hardware cloth to give you a surface that allows excess soil to fall through to a bin on the shelf below.|
Measures approximately 6 ft. long, 2 ft. deep, and 32 in. high. If redwood is unavailable, consider cedar, another good weather-resistant wood.
Download the materials list, cut list, detailed drawing, and step-by-step instructions in pdf format here: Taunton.com .
|Simple Design : Learn how to make this simple bench from Ron Hazelton. Includes plans, step-by-step instructions along with tips, materials, and tools lists.|
The structure includes a slatted top, a shelf below and two uprights, which would eventually support a lighting fixture (so this can be used to start seedlings in the off-season). You can position the light up or down as needed.
You can download full-size, 3-D drawings and view them using the free Sketchup viewer  software by Google.
|Indoor/Outdoor Center : Shows how to make an indoor-outdoor center from inexpensive 3/4-inch-thick #2 pine shelving and 1/4-inch-thick peg-holed hard-board panels. Includes diagrams, instructions and materials list.|
This is the best picture I could find to give an idea of what the completed project would look like (you’ll see an image gallery on the page to click through, has about a dozen images).
There are nine pages of instructions (web tutorial) and it looks like it was originally published June/July 1995 in Mother Earth News.
|With Tool Hutch (pdf) : It features a generously sized work top with a hutch above for tools, seeds and small pots. Below, shelves hold larger items, and a large compartment is just right for bulky bags of potting soil, fertilizer or a|
covered compost container.
Finished size measures about 51 inches long by 24 inches deep by 65 inches tall.
Free pdf download includes assembly instructions, construction diagrams, cutting schedule and materials list.
|Portable With Wheels : Features wheels on the front and handles on the back that allow you to move it outside when the weather is nice then store it out of the way in the garage when not in use.|
There’s also a nice side tray to hold tools (opposite side from the handles) and attached inside is a 5 gallon plastic bucket for soil (with a removable panel above it).
Features both a web page tutorial and a quick video showing a few tips for making this (top, side and end plan diagrams available).
|Made With Wooden Pallets : Has a bottom shelf to hold supplies and a 37″ high work surface.|
You’ll need one or two wooden pallets, 2×4 lumber (optional), galvanized exterior screws, glue, stain and polyurethane or primer and paint.
It’s suggested to use pallets that held boxes of tile since they provide the longest and strongest lumber.
|Farm Table Refashion : Repurpose household items to make this handy bench, you’ll need an old table, a chain-link gate, a drill (and drill bits), pipe clamps. Tools are hung from the gate using wire or S-hooks.|
|Sturdy Worktop Surface :|
A simple design using pine framing for both the top surface as well as the bottom shelf. Tutorial is a free pdf download (includes step-by-step images).
Supplies needed: dressed H3 pine framing, galvanized countersunk screws, galvanized flat head nails, a drill, saw, tape measure, pencil and sandpaper.
- Feel free to substitute cedar and more expensive woods that are called for in many of the project plans for wood that’s more within your budget–you’ll want to make sure though to treat the wood well so it won’t rot or weather too quickly.
- You can alter the measurements so the finished product is at the height that best compliments your needs, just be sure to adjust other component measurements if necessary.
- If you’d like some pretty eye candy and display your potting bench as a charming piece of yard furniture, try stenciling designs with outdoor paint along the shelves or frame, I’ve seen some beautiful projects done this way.
- If your project of choice doesn’t include many options for holding tools, add hooks suitable for the outdoors along the top shelf or along the sides of the top work counter. You could also attach some pegboard, wire mesh or lattice between the bottom shelf and top work surface (along the sides), it’s great to keep the tools organized and you just reach over the side to grab what you need. Frame the added sides for a finished look, but it’s not necessary.
- If you plan on keeping it outdoors over the winter, clean it as best you can then fasten a tarp or plastic sheet over it to protect it from the winter weather. This will help it weather better over time so you’ll be able to enjoy it longer.