Potting bench — a great idea for storing gardening tools

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Darlene Lorinc wanted an outdoor workspace. She needed a spot where she could organize pots, soil, tools and other elements needed to create the beautiful containers which adorn the Lorinc’s deck overlooking the Openwood Lake. Her husband Joe came to the rescue and constructed a potting bench which sits outside near the back door leading to the garage and deck area.

Lorinc has made several of these over the last year or so according to his wife; each one gets better as he hones his carpentry skills. Her bench is painted bright red to go along with her outgoing personality. Lorinc made it from treated wood so that it would be long-lasting and includes a slatted area where the potting soil can fall back into a bin located underneath for easy cleanup. The bin is actually a large plastic storage tub on casters. The top proves useful for keeping the potting soil dry when it rains. Hooks along one side keep small tools nearby and shelves above and below are available to store pots and others items for potting, seed sowing, etc. It is close to a water faucet for easy access and the height was designed to accommodate Darlene’s small stature.

Lorinc says that it was not a hard project and total cost was approximately $120. He spent three days constructing it with materials purchased locally. He sealed it with Thompsons Water Seal; the same product used for decks and other wooden outdoor garden structures, and then painted it red. Anyone with some basic carpentry skills can construct something similar he mentioned.

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Potting benches are quite popular with gardeners and all kinds of retailers from Sears to fancy garden shops have them for sale these days. Some are more utilitarian while others almost resemble fine furniture and can double as a bar for patio parties when not in use by the gardener.

Articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens for repurposing items including one for creating a potting bench from an old dresser. A waterproof top was added and pegboard was inserted where the mirror had previously been located. The drawers made good storage space for pots and soil, while hooks attached in the pegboard held gardening tools and baskets for seeds and gloves and other light gardening items. Another BHG article featured a potting bench created out of two wooden pallets. One formed the main table top of the structure and the other the back where shelves could be attached. Legs were added and more wood in areas where the structure needed additional support. (Their website: bhg.com has a video on this project with step by step instructions).

Several television programs have included shows related to constructing a potting bench. This Old House featured a potting bench which started with a wooden three-piece picnic table. The table became the potting table with the two benches stacked atop each other and attached on the rear side of the table to form the shelves. Again more wood was used to add stability from the top of the tallest bench along both ends of the table. A neat way to repurpose an unneeded or garage sale find picnic table.

Master Gardener Paul James of HGTV created a potting bench on the show with step by step how-to instructions. It sits on his patio and includes a neat twist that could be incorporated by other gardeners. He purchased one of those mats that goes by the door on which to place muddy boots to eliminate tracking mud into the house. He pots on top of it so that it catches any wayward potting soil for easy clean-up. His bench is larger and can accommodate sever plastic bins underneath and baskets for various items he uses.

Local Master Gardener Randall Williams showed me the potting bench he built near his raised vegetable garden. His version includes a sink so that he can rinse off vegetables before bringing them inside.

“I wanted to make something functional and substantial, not necessarily something of beauty” Lorinc commented. Most avid gardeners probably have similar feelings because to a gardener this type of workspace is similar to that of how a cook feels about their kitchen countertop. It is a workstation where they can putter around with a medium that brings them hours of enjoyment and usually results in the creation of something special for their garden.

Miriam Jabour, a Master Gardener and Master Flower Show judge, has been active in the Openwood Plantation Garden Club for over 35 years. Write to her at 1114 Windy Lake Drive, Vicksburg MS 39183.