Since many of us are cooped up at home to avoid the coronavirus, Americans are gardening with abandon right now. This has lead to serenity, sustenance—and a whole new category of clutter!
If your garden supplies are in disarray, there’s one item that could solve all your problems: a potting bench.
A potting bench is simply a table for doing garden work, such as sowing seeds, repotting starter plants, and filling containers with soil.
“It’s an especially ideal piece if you do a lot of container gardening,” notes Susan Brandt, a plant expert at Blooming Secrets.
This planting station is a smart addition to any backyard or garage, as it can save you from back strain and organize your gardening gear.
Stock it with your tools, load up your pots, and then get to work. (And when it’s not in use, drape it with twinkle lights, lay a pretty cloth on the surface and voilà, you have a home bar.)
Here’s more about these nifty helpers, as well as how to outfit a potting bench and some great-looking picks if you’re in the market for your own.
How to pick the best potting bench
Look for a sturdy base that will accommodate the weight of pots and bags of fertilizer.
“The main surface should be lower than a kitchen counter, because some of the pots you’ll be working with could be more than a foot high. So aim for a bench that’s roughly 36 inches in height,” Brandt suggests.
Make it metal—and mobile
Pick a bench or table that’ll withstand the elements.
“Shop for materials that can take the heat of summer and the winter cold and can also get wet and dirty,” says Brandt.
Old wood will weather nicely, while galvanized metal will last a long time without rusting. And if you’re short on space, check out smaller carts on wheels, or even wagons, which can slide around your deck easily and store compactly.
Repurpose a tool bench
If there’s room in your garage, build in a few planks at the right level.
“Make sure there’s lots of surface area, so you can spread things out and add in drawers for tools or slots for garden schemes,” says Brandt.
Be sure to include plenty of hooks to hang small shovels, trowels, a rake, your sun hat, and pruning shears.
“A mix of shelves is ideal, with a low one to store large items like bags of soil, and others at eye level to house seed packets, gloves and other tools,” adds Oscar Ortega, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.
Add a sink or trough
Setting up your planting station in the garage means you might be close to water via a laundry sink. But if your potting bench is on a deck or in your breezeway, with access to pipes, consider a product with a sink, so you can tap into this water source.
“A built-in trough is another option that’ll allow you to clean tools and your hands, and it’ll hold extra soil while you’re potting,” says Brandt.
Want some shopping inspiration? Here are a few more potting sheds that’ll make gardening a pleasure this season.
The best potting bench for the budget-conscious
This pick hits the trifecta: It’s slender, affordable, and attractive. Use the lower level to stash your watering can and large cachepots, and store potting soil in the hidden compartment. And when the digging’s done, transform this piece into an outdoor buffet during backyard barbecues ($157, Walmart).
The best metal potting bench
This utility table has a removable bag for loading and decanting soil, and its simple design means that it will fade nicely into the background, allowing your flowers to shine.
Five hooks are included, and the open slats on each level make cleanup easy and allow excess water to drip away ($115, Wayfair).
The best sturdy, water-resistant potting bench
You’ll have to pony up for sustainable acacia paired with durable concrete, but the look is stunning, and it’s a patio piece you’ll use for years.
Starting seeds and repotting containers is easily done on the main surface—and this piece is also a smart-looking station for drinks, when stocked with an ice bucket, bar towels, melamine tumblers, and an icy urn of sangria ($1,299, Pottery Barn).