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Decor & Design

Outdoor Space Organization: DIY Potting Bench

The smells and signs of spring can be torture when you are an avid gardener living in a small space with a limited outdoor area. There's no place where you can cultivate your natural desire to get your hands dirty. We hear a lot about how to upcycle containers for gardening and how to grow an herb garden in a wooden pallet, but we hardly see any information about how to create a new space for building these magical gardens, let alone how to store all the things you need to maintain them. It is time to reclaim your right to a green thumb.

With a little organization and creativity, your everyday garage shelving unit can become your own personal potting station and supply storage area. We all begin with the standard garage shelving space — full of tools, nuts and bolts, and miscellaneous leftover pieces. This is usually a spot for depositing items that have no other place to go, but, with a little bit of effort, you can turn this space into a functional home for your planting needs.

Start with a Clean Slate

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To begin, you will need to spend the afternoon sorting through everything on these shelves. Recycle what you can and pack up items you have not used in over a year. You can neatly place these items in a labeled storage bin in your CubeSmart cube.

Keep all tools that will fit into their own cases and tool boxes. Organize your gardening supplies and tools and place to the side for now.

Once the shelves are completely cleared, sweep below and wipe them down, if necessary. You want to start with a clean slate so you remember how it looks and commit to keeping it this way.

Build a Rolling Soil Box and Potting Bench
Most gardeners know that the key to most gardens is the soil, so that is where we begin. Soil can be messy and unruly in your new clean work area, but building a rolling soil box that can tuck under the bottom shelf and be easily pulled out when needed will keep the area neat and organized.

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Supplies Needed:

  • Measuring Tape
  • Large Plastic Storage Containers with Lid
  • 2 x Rolling Casters with Washer and Nut
  • 2 x Locking Rolling Casters with Washer and Nut
  • Drill with Bit
  • Wrench
  • Chalkboard Label Stickers
  • Pre-cut and Sealed Shelving (x2 or as measured)
  • Copper or Rubber Boot Tray with Edges
  • Small to Medium Rattan Basket

Rolling Soil Box Instructions:

  1. Measure the space under your shelving unit – length, width, and depth – to ensure you purchase storage boxes that will fit underneath. Be sure to add the height of the wheels and the height of the box to get your total height measurement. This is important for guaranteeing the rolling box fits under the bottom shelf. Remember each wheel should consist of a caster, nut, and washer.
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  2. Begin with the storage box upside down, measure, and drill a hole in the bottom with enough space for the caster to rest flat on the bottom of the box.
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  3. Once you have drilled all four holes, place the caster screw through until the base rests flat on the storage box. As most casters come with a flat head screw, you may need to push or turn it through the hole. Be sure not to force it; if the hole is not large enough, use a larger drill bit rather than risk tearing the plastic material. Put all four casters in place, and turn the box over, so the inside is now facing up.
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  4. Place one metal washer over the caster screw, then the bolt.
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  5. Tighten each bolt in place to secure the caster. Repeat for all four wheels.
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  6. Fill with soil, place a chalkboard label sticker on the outside, and slide into place. Lock the casters as needed to keep the box in place or if on a sloping surface.
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Potting Bench Instructions:

  1. Measure area to be used for the potting bench, and purchase prefinished shelving to fit the space. You may choose to cut and stain these boards yourself, however, buying them stained and pre-cut is a time saving method and will not cost much more. Place boards on top of metal shelving to create a stable work area.
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  2. Place a metal boot/shoe tray on top of the metal shelving to create a way to catch the excess soil from falling and keep the items below free from debris. Stack your clean pots neatly on the shelf.
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  3. Store and organize your tools and gloves in an attractive basket to be placed behind the tray, for easy access with style.
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  4. As space allows, add additional storage boxes below the shelves and organize your project supplies by category. Be sure to label each box, so you can easily find items the next time you need them.
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  5. Return the remaining tools and supplies to the shelves in an organized manner, only keeping the items you will use in the near future.
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  6. Now you are ready to wheel out the soil, fill those garden containers, and start enjoying the view from your patio or window box garden. The tray will protect the tools and supplies below from getting soil on them when you are potting. Simply pour any soil remaining in the tray back into the rolling soil bin when you are finished for the day.
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Living in a small space doesn't have to limit your lifestyle, it simply means you may need to be more creative with your space and make an extra effort to stay organized. Letting go of supplies from projects long completed and properly packing up items you want to hold onto frees up more space for old and new hobbies.

Many gardeners feel that when they downsize their home or live in urban areas with limited space, they will have to stop gardening or let go of other hobbies they love. Taking the time to organize a corner of your home or garage can open up a world of creative possibilities. If you need extra storage space for your things, you could always store any excess supplies at your local CubeSmart center.

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The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!

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