Those of us that get inspired to grow lots of seedlings in our backyard come across a common problem – we don’t want to spend every last dime buying ready-to-assemble pieces of infrastructure from big box stores, yet we aren’t at a large enough scale to order from farm supply companies either. In this in-between position, past “hobby gardener” and not quite full scale production nursery, you must Do It Yourself.
I found a design somewhat similar to this one on another site; the guy bragged about how little it cost him (and then admitted that he got some materials for free, and others on clearance) and how easy it was to build, but with no actual plans or process shots. After looking at his picture of the finished product, I assembled the necessary materials and came up with my own design. It’s very simple. You could build one of these in about an hour, start to finish, with no help. With help from another person, you could build two of them in an hour and a half. The only tools required are a drill, a circular saw, and maybe a hammer. Here’s a breakdown of the materials needed for one bench, with prices:
6 – 2x4s, 8 feet long (pressure treated) – $20.22
2 – 12″ x 8′ wire closet shelves – $23.56
1 – box of 2-½” screws (for building frame) – $7.98
2 – packs of 1″ L brackets, 4 per pack – $4.54
1 – box of 1-⅝” screws (for securing shelf to frame, via L brackets) – $7.98
Total cost: $64.28 (plus tax). You will have extra screws left over and some extra wood.
The dimensions of the table are: 32″ H x 27″ W x 8′ L. Enough space to hold 10 50 cell flats, or about 8 15 cup trays for 4 inch pots. I’m using mine for a variety of different things, bottom line is they can hold a lot of plants, keep things off the ground, and provide much needed ergonomics for your backyard nursery setup.
To get started, we need to cut wood for the frame. It’s 8 feet long, so two pieces of wood won’t need to be cut at all. Then you need two pieces cut to 24 inches. Easy enough.
Now, lay the boards down and make a rectangle, with the smaller pieces on the end, inside the longer pieces. Drill two screws into each corner to assemble the frame. You now have the basic shape for the table top.
Next, cut 3 inches off of one of your 2x4s. This piece will go inside the frame, long ways. Try to get it centered, then measure the width of the two halves to either side of this piece. In a perfect world, they will be 11.25 inches. Wood is forgiving, though.
These smaller pieces will go in the center to keep the wire shelving from bowing under the weight of your plants. They will need to be offset so you can drill into them from both sides.
Now that the frame is complete, we need to cut the legs. You need 4 pieces of wood cut to 32 inches. One 2×4 can give you 3 of these.
The legs will go inside the corners like this:
Drill 3 screws in a triangle into the wider side, through the frame. Then two screws from the other side, careful to offset them so you don’t hit the other screws.
The frame is now complete, except for one last step. You’ll need another two pieces of wood cut to 24 inches, which will be attached to the two legs forming a cross brace. This will greatly improve the stability of the table.
All done with the frame. At this point it should be very sturdy, and still not weigh very much. Now to attach the shelves.
These wire closet shelves are perfect because they allow water to drain from the bottom of your plants, and much needed airflow underneath which keeps seedlings healthy. I’ve also noticed less pest problems compared to when I had all my seed trays on the ground.
Line up the shelving so it’s centered, then get two L brackets and 4 1-⅝” screws for each side. You may not get a perfect fit with the L brackets (the holes might not reach over the wire) but that’s what the hammer is for. The wire is flexible and you can just wack the L bracket a couple of times to get it closer to flush.
Repeat on each side of the shelf, and you’re done! Not too complicated, right?
These benches are so great because the materials are weather proof, durable, and lightweight, not to mention affordable. You can move them easily with two people, even when they’re full of plants. It would be easy to expand on this design and add a second shelf below, or make it wider, taller, etc. The closet shelving comes in widths of 12″, 16″ and 20″, and up to 20 feet long. This would be useful even for a larger nursery that needs dozens of tables for thousands of seedlings.
Now you’ll have an easier time caring for your plants, observing them, and your nursery space will be much more economical, organized, and legit looking. And we all know that if you look legit, you are legit.
Let me know if this article helped you, or inspired you to build a DIY bench top of your own. If this is just what you were looking for, that’s great! I’m glad I could help. I hope this design allows you to work more fluidly in your backyard nursery, and most importantly- grow more plants!