Today we’re building a potting bench—a perfect project for those of us who love to garden but don’t have a workstation to do so. This garden potting bench keeps everything tidy and in one place—and it works just as well living in a backyard as it does a garage (or even an apartment balcony).
Interested in more garden-related projects like our mason bee beehive or our vertical planter? Visit the Dunn DIY booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, which runs February 20-24—we’ll be there (booth 707) for our fifth year and would love to see you!
Now, let’s get started.
Step 1: Cut and Drill Holes in Metal Track
You could come up with your own potting bench plans, but today we’re doing the hard work for you.
To start, cut and drill holes in the metal track that’ll slip around the sides of the wire panel to hold it in place. We used Wild Hog’s U-shaped “Hog Tracks Channel” for this. First, lay the wire panel flat and temporarily slide the tracks onto the long sides of the panel. Using a hacksaw, cut the top and bottom tracks out of a third long piece to fit, then slip them temporarily into place, too. Once you have tracks on all four sides, measure the width and the height of the grid and track together. Ours measured 36 1/2" wide by 72 3/4" tall.
We’ll be screwing these channels into a frame of lumber, so pre-drill holes for the screws near the end of the track and about every foot along it.
Step 2: Cut Potting Bench Wooden Frame
Knowing the dimensions of the wire panel with the channel allows us to cut the lumber frame we’ll be attaching the channels to. We used cedar two-by-fours for the frame and cut the two long sides to be 74 1/4” tall, the top to be 39 1/2” wide, and the bottom piece to be 36 1/2” wide. Cedar is great for many reasons, and it's naturally rot-resistant so you don't have to stain it (we've even made a raised planter bed with cedar).
Step 3: Attach Tracks to Frame
We designed this potting bench to have tracks mounted to the wide side of the two-by-fours, set back 1/2" from the edge. Attach the tracks to the cedar using 1 1/4” trim-head screws. To find the exact placement of the side tracks along the length of the two-by-four, we accounted for the two-by-four header (or top piece) plus the width of the top track. For us, that meant leaving a 3/4" gap at the top.
Note: the two sides are not identical—they’re mirror images. There is a “left” and a “right.” Keep this in mind as you place your tracks.
Next, center the top and bottom tracks to their corresponding two-by-fours and attach with screws.
Optional: If your potting bench will live out in the weather, drill drainage holes periodically through the bottom track all the way through the bottom lumber frame. This will allow rainwater to drain out and not sit in the track.
Step 4: Assemble Frame of Potting Bench
Now that all the metal tracks are attached to the lumber frame, it’s time to do a “dry fit.” This means putting all the pieces together temporarily before fastening permanently. This step ensures everything’s going to fit and allows you to make adjustments now if any mistakes were made earlier.
If everything checks out, it’s time to assemble. We attached the left side of the frame to the top side of the frame with 3” screws driven down through the top and into the side.
Remember: The metal tracks go on the inside, so check to make sure you have the left piece and not the right piece.
Then, add the right side in the same way, drilling down through the top. Next, slip the metal grid into the three-sided frame. (This is much easier to do with two people, so find a friend!) Finally, secure the bottom piece into place with 3” screws, this time screwing from the bottom up through the side pieces. That’s it! Now that the back of the potting bench is framed, set it aside.
Step 5: Build Box Frames for Potting Bench
In this step, we’re building two box frames: one that will support the work surface, and one that will support the shelf below. We used one-by-four cedar for these frames and pre-drilled before screwing to minimize the chance of the lumber splitting.
Start by measuring a one-by-four to 22 3/4", then cut to length. Repeat this three times. These four pieces will be the sides of your box frame.
Next, cut four one-by-fours to 35 1/4" for the fronts and backs of the two box frames.
For each box frame, pre-drill and screw the sides onto the ends of the front and back pieces with 1 1/4" screws (the front and back should overlap the sides).
Step 6: Cut Front Legs
Measure and cut two pieces of two-by-four lumber to 36” to make the front legs for the bench. Set aside.
Step 7: Add Box Frames to Back of Bench
Lay the back of your bench (with the wire panel facing up) flat on your workspace, then mark the height where you want your two box frames to be. We’ll mount these boxes inside the frame. The box frame for our lower shelf was placed 8 1/2" from the bottom of the back frame, and the box frame for the work surface above it measured 36” from the bottom. Mark these placements on both the left and the right sides of the frame. Then, screw the box frames into place from the inside of the box frame out and into the two-by-fours.
Step 8: Attach Front Legs of Potting Bench
With the bench still laying flat, attach the front legs to the outside of the box frames. The top of the front legs should be flush with the top of the upper box frame.
Step 9: Cut Boards for Work Surface and Shelf
Cut eight one-by-sixes and two one-by-twos to the same width as the box frames—36”. These will be the horizontal boards for the upper work surface and the bottom shelf. Note: we chose to cut the front board of the work surface longer than the rest and covered the front legs. You can do this too, or you can cut all the boards the same width.
Step 10: Secure Boards to Box Frame
Starting at the front of the box frame (away from the wire panel), align the boards, pre-drill holes, then screw into place with 1 1/4” screws. Before the back board goes into place, screw a one-by-two onto the back edge of it. This will form a lip at the back of the rearmost board.
Step 11: Add Upper Shelves to Potting Bench
For one or more upper shelves, cut an additional one-by-six to fit just inside the back frame. That should be the same width as the boards you used for the work surface and shelf below: 36 1/2". To mount ours, we cut short lengths of two-by-twos at 5 1/2” and mounted them at the same height on either side of the frame with 3” screws. Then, we screwed the shelf down onto the two-by-twos with 1 1/4” screws.
Step 12: Add Plastic Feet to Potting Bench
We used some plastic furniture feet on the four legs of our bench to keep it slightly off the ground—this will help minimize scratching of deck surfaces.
Step 13: Hang Gardening Tools
We used S-hooks to hang some garden tools on the wire panel. You can customize the arrangement to work best with the tools you have. It helps to squeeze one end of the hook nearly closed so that it doesn’t pop off when grabbing or rehanging tools.
That’s it! This DIY potting bench is a great solution for those of us who love to garden but don’t have a workstation to do so. Now, you can keep everything in one place—right where you need it. Get started by planting strawberries or an herb garden!