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DIY Potting Table For The Garden

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I adore gardening, and I especially enjoy planting and transplanting in pots of all sizes and shapes. Usually I set up a couple of planks over 2 saw horses as a potting bench of sorts, as the lifting and bending working at ground level is hard on the back. But this year I decided I wanted something more attractive and permanent in the garden. Yes, it is late in the season but there are a number of plants to be re-potted and brought indoors for winter.

I saw a potting table for sale in a high-end catalog priced in the $900 range, significantly beyond what I wanted to spend. What attracted me was the galvanized metal work area that was both practical and nice looking.

I gave it some thought and came up with a variation on the commercial design that met my needs, was reasonably priced using quality materials, and, best of all, was within the skill set of my husband. (Honey, do…

My potting table is 5 feet long, 28 inches wide, and about 32 inches high with a removable 2 board shelf underneath. The galvanized metal top was fabricated at a local sheet metal shop for about $90. It has a lip approximately 4 inches deep on all sides for strength and to avoid unsightly seams. My husband constructed a base using 2 X4s covered with ½ inch pressure plywood to support the galvanized metal top with pockets to hold the legs. See the following diagram.

(The three photos below show (1) the constructing details for the table top beneath the galvanized metal, (2) the details of the cedar 1 x 6 inch surround on three sides, and (3) a detail of the legs.)


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The wood used for the legs and the wood lip on three sides is cedar, 4 X4s for the legs and 1 X 6s for the raised edge on 3 sides. The 1 X 6s were installed about 2 inches above the metal base to prevent pots from sliding off. They are tapered in the front. (See photos.)

Each pair of front and back legs is connected by a cedar brace (H configuration) to allow several planks to be laid across it to form a shelf. I choose some very old weathered wood planks with remnants of red paint. I set the shelf low to allow me to stack pots and to store larger pots.

The entire potting table is bolted together using lag screws. Since it’s cedar, I plan to let it sit outside exposed to the weather. Disallowing the time for fabricating the galvanized metal top, the project took my husband about a week to put together working a few hours a day. In terms of required skill for construction, I’d give it a score of advanced beginner.

Costs for construction:

  • $90 for the galvanized metal top.
  • $125 for the cedar legs and 1 X 6 cedar surround.
  • $15 for ½ inch pressure treated plywood.
  • $15 for 2 X 4s.
  • $15 for hardware, bolts, screws, etc.

Altogether my potting table cost about $260.00 for materials, significantly less than the $900 cost of the commercial bench. Mine is far sturdier and, I think, more attractive.

As you can see from the photos, I opted to purchase several galvanized metal trash containers to hold potting soil and mulch. The covers fit tight keeping the contents dry. I even recycled my old plastic watering can and replaced it with a larger galvanized version. All in all, a good weeks work.

The potting table is part of a larger garden area that I am designing. Stay tuned for the next project, a charming 4 X 4 foot rustic blue tool shed.


By Florence Dove Google

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