Saturday, May 26, 2012

Repurposed potting bench/ garden sideboard/ room divider/ trellis

Everyone has a little problem area in the yard- a spot where nothing has seemed to work out the way you’d hoped.  I have many of these areas, and this year, like almost every year, I am trying to fix it.  In my 2012 garden project list, I thought the fix for this might be to introduce a little hardscaping- hoping this would be the solution.  Up until now, I have tried the softer approach, a built a little hill, added some different plants, and even added a tree, but it still didn’t look and feel right or at least they way I wanted it.  Maybe this won’t work either; and that’s fine.  I think of landscaping as identifying and solving problems.  
So to help define and divide the space between the dining room and the hammock area, I built a combination buffet and potting bench.  This solves a couple of real needs we have in the garden.  Although we have a potting bench, it gets a lot of use and a lot of sun and heat.  We often have a need for a bench that is in the shade.  Also, we need a buffet- a sort of table for serving food and drinks (or even displaying plants for sale).  We often use the potting bench for this type of activity, but the potting bench is kind of tucked away in our narrow nursery (the 6’ wide space between the shop and the fence).  
Having a buffet in a more open shady area would invite better flow in the garden and is next to an area where people already like to congregate. The reason I am providing all this information is so perhaps readers can envision parts of their garden in terms of how they use it, or would like to use it, and solve the problems through identifying issues and seeking resolution, and being as specific as possible.

Back to the solution…
I initially thought about a fence panel- that would provide immediate separation of the two spaces and provide interest.  I use fence panels a lot in our garden and recommend them to others, too.  They add interest, can mimic important architectural elements of the house or fences, and provide a cohesive feel to the yard.  But a fence wouldn’t help with the buffet issue.

So, I came up with the idea for a potting bench.  I could have mimicked the bench we already have, but I thought I’d try something different, and since I like a good re-purposing project, I went to Home ReSource for some information gathering, and material procurement.  I was just looking for interesting things that caught my eye, and specifically an interesting (and useful) sink.
They must have read my mind...
Soon I found a sink- and then the plan came together. 
Not long after that, I had a door, some shelf brackets, a towel rod, painted cedar 4x4’s and 5/4 decking, and ideas.  I came home and began drawing the project up.
The result is this re-purposed potting bench/ buffet (or sideboard)/ trellis/ room divider. 
Before adding the potting bench, dining area is on the right.
With the potting bench, dividing the two rooms.
So, as you can see from the pictures, I used old porcelain over cast iron sink, and a floor drain for the potting bench.  I installed a floor drain to the side of the sink to let soil fall through when potting plants to a bucket that is suspended below the drain using a couple of cup hooks.
The sink also drains into a bucket too. Low tech.
I removed the glass from the windows, so the top of the door could be used as a trellis for the white clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia) to climb. I painted the door to match the other structures in the garden and provide protection from the elements. The door is actually the same color as our house; not that I particularly like that color, but we have extra paint.  

I added arches to the top and bottom to the door to make it look less door-like. And, by making the shelves extending  past the width of the door, the shape of the door is broken up.
Otherwise the bench is made from cedar deck boards and 4x4 posts, all planed and sanded down to bare wood that will turn a light grey with age, and match the other cedar furniture in the garden. Even though I built this bench from recycled and re-purposed materials, it is built to be functional and sturdy- it is not a decorative garden ornament.
The towel rack on the side holds, well, towels, but also garden tools.
This repurposed potting bench adds a focal point to this spot in the garden, divides the spaces and creates much needed and used storage, serving and potting space.


  1. Love it! I especially like your creative reuse of the door, sink and grate.

    1. Thanks for the compliments! It turns out the drain pail under the sink is a pretty good little rain barrel, too. It's a big sink and it has been raining for a while now!

  2. Wow, what a great project and potting bench! Love ReStore... We got some materials there to build my little greenhouse/wood storage shed; like you, I saw a set of windows and my project came together. Found you on Blotanical btw. : )

  3. I think it looks great! We've been talking of building some sort of garden sink, but haven't yet got past the dreaming phase. Yours turned out incredibly well and suits the space well, too.

    1. Thank you! I hope my project helps get you past the dreaming phase. Thanks so much for the compliments!

  4. Very much inspired by this. Bought a house build in 1917 and simply had to replace the front door (which was original). Couldn't part with the door...and then it turns out the ridiculously heavy old sink with cast side board in the cellar was the original kitchen sink. Meant to be, don't you think? Went with one shelf--repurposed from thrift store for 4.50 and another 17.00 for hardware and steel mesh to replace window (beveled antique glass, saved for further inspiration). All lumber was repurposed and used paint leftover from repainting the house last summer. I'm thrilled with the project and so glad to have stolen it from you.

    1. What a great story- thanks so much for sharing! I am really happy this post inspired you to find a use for the door and sink. I look forward to hear what you for the beveled glass! Post a picture on my Facebook page
      - I'd love to see it and I am sure you will inspire other readers. Thanks again!

  5. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing how you created the bench :)

  6. Choosing a sideboard needs just as much thought and effort as you would your living room furniture, since your guests will be able to see your sideboards once they are in your dining room.

  7. I am new at gardening and am looking to create a small haven in my backyard. I am single and an empty nester. Will start college soon and know I will need a place of rest from time to time. I love your work or art! Can't wait to get mine started!

  8. This is brilliant, and now I'm totally inspired to find some treasures to creat one of my own. I glean so much from your blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I live in St. Ignatius and have some great things from Home Resource in Missoula just waiting for spring!