I love to garden as a hobby, and I have had my eyes open for years looking for a perfect frame, or materials, in order to recreate a rustic potting table I could incorporate into my outdoor garden space. I collected a few things for fleeting ideas I’ve had, but I recently scored an old wine rack when a friend of mine moved. It was love at first sight. Not only because it made my job easier to refurbish than build, but because it was the perfect height, and of the perfect material to weather, but not deteriorate, in the outdoor space it belongs in.
Just because you don’t have an old wine rack doesn’t mean you can’t create your own frame, or use something similar. All you need are the materials to support a surface for potting, and the rest is up to your imagination.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
I suggest haunting local thrift shops and flea markets for old furniture that could serve as a proper table frame. Depending on your needs and wants you may not care if you have a hanging surface or multiple flat surfaces like I wanted.
- Old Wine rack or similar furniture:Although I am never put off by having to build my own frame, I really want to upcycle some sort of furniture for this project. Have some patience and watch local garage sale sites to find the perfect shape to work with.
- Pallet Wood or Plywood:If you need to create the table top, I suggest using a sheet of plywood as a base. Pallet wood works well too if you are willing to piece it together.
- Circular Saw:To cut wood, of course!
- Medium grit sandpaper:Be sure to get a good surface for paint to adhere to.
- Spray paint:No matter the materials you choose to work with, painting over it will help protect it from the elements.
- Wood Stain:If you don’t paint over your wood, be sure to stain it for added weather protection
Caulking: Make sure your table top is secure!
Ground anchors: If you are placing your table outside, consider the type of weather you get in your area. We have strong, gusty winds occasionally, and I’d prefer to know my table will ‘weather the storm’ by anchoring to the ground.
I want to note that there are MANY ways you can create a potting table. All you need is vision and an idea of what you would like for the space you have. In my case, I wanted an outdoor table that sits near my vegetable garden, and against the grape trellis so it can eventually become ‘part’ of the living garden itself. All my transplanting materials are stored ALL THE WAY ACROSS my one-acre property, and I wanted something closer on which to keep my gardening tools so i could stop running back and forth.
STEP 1: SAND ALL SURFACE
Even if your surfaces look well prepared for a coat of paint, be sure to sand them down first to remove any leftover varnish or paint, rust that may be lurking beneath the surface, wood dust from cutting, and dirt or dust from storage. Plus this creates a better surface for paint to adhere to.
What to remember: You don’t need a very gritting paper to get the job done if your surface is already pretty clean, I used a paper in the range of 200 to prepare the surface. Anything lower is reserved for surfaces that need some serious cleaning. In that case start low and work your way up to a finer paper to smooth it out.
STEP 2: PAINT METAL OR WOOD SURFACES
Putting a coat of paint over your frame materials doesn’t just give it a personal touch and make it look good, it also serves as protection from the elements. Even if your potting table will be in a protected area, UV rays, wind, and moisture will affect it over time. You can help protect the integrity of the materials and give it a long life with a good coat of paint. In my case I used a spray paint specific for the protection of metal and outdoor use to help avoid fading over time.
What to remember: Do yourself a favor and make sure you paint in a well ventilated area, on a calm day. Even if you are using a paint brush, wind can carry dust and debris into your drying paint and compromise both the aesthetics and protection it provides. My paint drifted and I lost a lot of the color in the decorative top due to this. In the long run it won’t matter much in the location it will be in, but I should have covered that surface before spraying.
STEP 3: MEASURE FOR TABLE AND CUT SURFACE
I cannot stress how important it is to measure your surfaces before making cuts. Don’t wing this one and be sure you have the dimensions correct. In my case I originally planned on piecing together some pallet wood and staining it. Due to the construction of wine rack, I choose instead to use a plywood base.
What to remember: Careful measurements and marking out your cuts in advance will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
STEP 4: ATTACH SURFACE
I could have just rested my table top in place, but decided to stabilize the entire thing with caulk to avoid issues with wind or weather, or the slipping of the entire top over time. I also have multiple surfaces, and want to make sure they all stay in place.
What to remember: Be sure to purchase a caulk that is approved for outside exposure and is waterproof. Don’t be shy about your use of it, and use your finger to make sure it fills in the gaps well and is smoothed out.
STEP 5: CONSIDER LOCATION
I choose the end of my grape arbor to be the final resting place for my potting table. I do the majority of my transplant work within that side of my property, and I also want the metal frame to provide additional support to my grape vine eventually.
What to remember: Even though your potting table may look fantastic up against the house, it is supposed to be convenient. My location was chosen based on accessibility. Plus it is a surprise pop of color in an unlikely place!
STEP 6: SECURE
As mentioned, you should really consider the weather patterns of where you live. The gusty winds we have here already knocked this frame over once (no damage was done), but I honestly don’t want to be constantly picking it back up, or losing any of the tools I plan to hang upon it for easy access.
In my case, I drove two metal fence posts into the ground and secured the legs to these. I also tied it to the arbor end for added stability when the grape begins to grow.
What to remember: Any flat surface can serve as a ‘lift’ for a gust of wind, so even if your table is in a sheltered place, consider securing it to a stable wall to avoid unlikely occurrences.
READY TO START?
If you can manage to find a frame you can work with, this makes the entire project pretty quick to put together. It’s also pretty inexpensive, as I spent about $15 dollars between the particle board and spray paint- and I already had the caulk, although that only costs a few dollars as well.
The glass racks are the perfect solution for holding gardening tools for quick access, and I love using old milk crates, or even treated wood crates) to store things. In this case I’ll eventually end up putting my potting materials down below to either reuse or recycle. Other ideas to consider are installing a sink if you are near a faucet, or even using lattice as a backdrop.
We’d love to see your DIY gardening ideas below, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, please ask!