The Potting Bench – A Great Addition To The Gardener’s Patio

There are many outdoor furniture items and accessories that can be used to enhance the look and function of your patio and its usable space.  If you are a gardener, then you can’t live without a potting bench.  Okay, maybe you can live without one, but you will have such an easier time getting all your favorite plants and herbs potted or transplanted if you have a work station that makes it easy.

This is what potting benches do for you.  Sure, you can do your transplanting and potting on an old table or even a make-shift flat surface, but if you want your space to be really user-friendly, then you should step up to the formal bench.  Sometimes, you’ll hear them referred to as a planting bench.  For obvious reasons, they are one in the same.  At Patio Covers Place, we are really crazy about quality and sustainability.

A great looking potting bench with shelves and a re-purposed window.

A great looking potting bench with shelves and a re-purposed window.

These things go hand in hand, because the better something is built and the finer materials used, the longer it lasts.  This is good not only for the environment, but for your budget as well.  There are several ways to get a great garden potting bench.  One is to simply shop for one online, see the one you like and buy it.  This is the easiest to handle and can certainly be right up your alley.  Another option is to re-purpose some older wood members or pieces of furniture.  Yet a third option is to build your own.

Because of the sustainability issue, we would prefer the latter two options, but a new potting bench can still be purchased ‘responsibly’ from our perspective.  For example, we are big fans of cedar – we’ve talked about this before in our garden bench and outdoor storage bench articles.  You can get a cedar potting bench whose wood has been certified as sustainably grown.  Yes, it will take more effort on your part and yes, it will cost more – in most cases.  However, there are other costs to the environment that can be considered as well.

Potting Bench Features, Benefits and Costs

No matter which style you choose to buy, build or re-purpose, there are some things you should consider.  If you look up potting bench plans, you’ll notice some similar features about them.  For one thing, they usually have a lower shelf for storage of pots, extra potting soil, etc.  The main shelf at waist level is for the actual working area.  Often, there is also a slighter smaller shelf above that for extra storage of smaller pots or some smaller hand tools.  You can also customize yours if you build it yourself by mounting a wider mesh type of screen on the back of the bench.  This will give you a place to use some hardware hooks where you can hang your gloves or small tools out of the way.

If you plan on building your own or assembling it from older furniture items, make sure that there are no nails or screws that can stick you.  One suggestion is to make the frame rigid and strong, but having the shelves ‘float’ on the rails or support members.  This gives you the ability to remove them to get excess dirt or soil off and also to keep them from getting a bunch of build-up between transplants.  If you plan on putting it out in direct exposure to the elements, you should consider sealing the bench to avoid premature deterioration.  Also, if it will be sitting on the ground, putting the legs of your planting bench on some bricks, flagstone or other flat stone or masonry surface will help to prevent wood rot from sitting in water from your landscape or rain water drainage.

The real benefits of having a bench like these are that they are designed for the purpose that you want.  You can use a small chair or folding table to do some work on, but it will only frustrate and annoy you over time.  Plus, they will not last.  If you are a more avid gardener, then you know what we’re talking about.  Like all things, you need the right tools for the job.  For about $200-300 USD and up new, less than $100 USD for materials if you buy them at your local home improvement warehouse, or practically free if you re-purpose some old furniture items, a potting bench will give you returns of fresh herbs, flowers and plants in your patio garden for years to come.

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