How to Make a DIY Potting Bench

Potting Bench

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Project Overview
  • Total Time: 3 - 5 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $75 to $150

Take your gardening to a new level—literally—by building a DIY potting bench. Filling pots, mixing soil, and other garden activities are tough to do on the ground. You don't want to use your kitchen table for gardening, either.

A custom DIY potting bench made largely from inexpensive two-by-fours is just what you need to garden in comfort. Plus, a potting bench provides ample space for storing garden tools and large items like potting soil and pots.

DIY Potting Bench Features and Options

  • Size: This DIY potting bench in this project is about 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The work surface is 37 or 38 inches high—perfect for working while standing. If you have special physical needs or if you just need a different height, it's easy to adjust the work surface to any suitable lower position.
  • Back wall: Rising 3 feet above the work surface, the slatted back wall is a convenient location for hanging gardening tools.
  • Hooks: Install hooks on the back wall for the tools. Use robe hooks or vintage hooks from antique stores. Or simply use inexpensive zinc-plated or vinyl-coated steel hooks.
  • Mixing basin/sink: This DIY potting bench has a unique feature: an inset basin that's flush with the level of the work surface. Look for masonry utility tubs since they are made of stronger plastic than most storage bins. The tub must have a lip around the perimeter to allow the tub to hang.

Safety Considerations

Keep the upper part of the potting bench (the back wall) lightweight to avoid tipping. It's helpful to store bags of potting soil, nutrients, seeds, and pots on the bottom shelf for stability. To avoid tipping altogether, attach the potting bench to a stable vertical surface like the side of the house or work shed. Use 2-inch zinc-plated angle braces, two per leg, to attach the back legs to the wall.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Electric miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bits and drivers
  • Speed Square
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Wrench set


  • 14 two-by-fours, each 8 feet long
  • 5 one-by-fours, each 10 feet long
  • 4 plastic feet
  • 1 plastic utility tub for mortar
  • 4 tie plates, 3-inch by 5-inch
  • 8 corner braces
  • 2-1/2-inch exterior grade screws
  • 8 3-1/2-inch shank length pan head carriage bolts (3/8-inch diameter, exterior grade)
  • 16 washers and lock nuts for carriage bolts (exterior grade)
  • 6 hooks
  • 4 2-inch zinc-plated angle braces


  1. Cut the Wood

    Cut the wood according to the table below:

    Wood Quantity Length Purpose Part #
    2x4 4 48 inches Shelf frame, front/back A
    2x4 4 24 inches Shelf frame, sides B
    2x4 2 36 inches Front legs C
    2x4 2 72 inches Back legs D
    2x4 28 24 inches Shelves E
    2x4 2 48 inches Braces for basin F
    1x4 10 51 inches Back wall G
  2. Mark the Shelf Frame Sides

    Lay out the four shelf frame side pieces (B). With the tape measure and pencil, mark 4-1/2 inches in from the end of each side piece. Flip the boards over and repeat on the other side. Use the Speed Square and pencil to continue these marks as full lines across the width of the two-by-fours.

  3. Dry-Fit the Shelf Frame

    Lay two frame side pieces (B) on edge. Position the pieces so they are parallel to each other and 48 inches apart. Lay two of the 48-inch-long shelf frame pieces (A) between and perpendicular to the two side pieces. The long pieces (A) should meet the pencil marks at the center.

  4. Assemble the Shelf Frame

    After first drilling pilot holes, drive two 2-1/2-inch screws per attachment point. After completion, the frame should have a total of eight screws.

  5. Add the Corner Braces (Optional)

    For added strength, attach the four corner braces to the inside corners of the shelf frame. Corner braces also square up the frame if it happens to be a bit out of square. Use the screws provided with the kit.

  6. Build the Second Shelf Frame

    Repeat all of the previous steps to build the second frame.

  7. Drill Holes in the Legs

    Lay out the two front legs (C) and two back legs (D). Designate one end of each leg as the bottom. Use the tape measure to measure upward from the bottom and make two marks: one at 6 inches and one at 34-1/4 inches. Drill holes for the bolts at each spot.

  8. Drill Holes in the Frames

    Drill holes in the two frames in other to attach the legs. Rest one of the frames so that the short side is facing you. Measure inward 1-3/4 inches from each end. Center the marks to the width of the boards (1-3/4 inches). Drill a hole to accommodate the bolt diameter. Repeat three more times on the frame. Duplicate on the second frame.

  9. Attach the Legs to the Frames

    Bolt the legs to the frames. Make sure that the two long legs (D) are in the back. Keep checking for square with the Speed Square. When the legs are in place, secure the legs. Drive one screw next to each bolt. Though bolts are very strong, they will eventually rotate—no matter how tightly you turn the nuts. Screws will prevent the boards from rotating.


    Work on a flat level surface like a garage floor or concrete patio.

  10. Install the Bottom Shelf

    Attach 13 to 14 shelf pieces (E) to the bottom shelf frame. Run the boards front-to-back. Space the boards about 1/4-inch away from each other. Use one 2-1/2-inch screw per attachment point (or, two screws per board).

  11. Install the Top Shelf Brace

    If you wish to install a drop-in potting basin, the top shelf frame will need two additional 48-inch braces (F). These will help stabilize the two-by-fours around the basin.

    Install one of the braces (F) at the front of the top shelf frame and another at the back. They should meet the ends of the short pieces (B), so that you can install the tie plates.

  12. Establish the Basin Location

    Space the boards on the top shelf with an eye toward providing support for the sides of the basin. Start with two boards (E) and place the basin between and supported by them. Slide the boards left or right until you find a position that you like.


    Keep in mind that you'll eventually be adding full-width two-by-fours on both sides of the basin. So space the boards accordingly to avoid ripping two-by-fours lengthwise.

  13. Attach the Support Boards for the Basin

    Attach the two support boards to the shelf frame, using one 2-1/2-inch screw per attachment point (or, four screws per board, making sure to include the newly installed braces).

  14. Attach the Shelf Boards to the Basin Front and Back

    To fill in the front and back shelf boards around the basin, measure inward from the edge of the shelf frame. Measure and cut shelf boards (E) to size. Slide the boards into place and screw them to the shelf frame.

  15. Install the Top Shelf

    Attach the rest of the shelf pieces (E) to the top shelf frame, working around the two support boards.

  16. Attach the Back Wall

    Screw the 51-inch back wall boards (G) to the upper part of the back legs. Space the boards according to your needs.


    Boards spaced wider (1/2-inch or more) give the potting bench a lighter, airier look. Plus, the bench will be less prone to the sail effect in a wind. Boards spaced closer provide more places to attach hooks for garden tools.

  17. Attach the Plastic Feet

    Tip the potting bench over on its side. Hammer or screw the plastic feet to the bottoms of the feet.

  18. Stain or Paint the Bench

    Constantly exposed to the elements, the potting bench will be subject to rapid decay if the wood is not coated. You can prime and paint the wood with two or three coats of exterior-grade acrylic latex paint. Or you can stain the wood and coat it with two or three coats of an oil-based polyurethane finish.

  19. Add the Hooks

    Screw six to eight robe hooks to the back wall of the potting bench. Kept the lengths of the garden tools in mind when placing the hooks so the tools will be able to hang.

Article Sources
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