How to Build a Potting Bench that is Portable for a Small Yard / Garden

How to Build a Potting Bench that is Portable for a Small Yard / Garden

Every Spring and Summer, my Pinterest and Facebook news feeds are filled to the brim with big, beautiful potting benches! Whether constructed from pallets or old doors, or even a genuine vintage potting table, they are stunning and, well, LARGE. But, here’s the thing- I’m a gardener on a very small scale…I simply don’t have the space for the classic potting bench. So, I set forth to create something on a smaller scale…

My idea? Well…bringing it to life required two things. First up, a folding tray table from the thrift store…

Folding Tray table or TV tray at thrift store for upcycling idea by Sadie Seasongoods

And second, a shallow drawer from Habitat ReStore.

Shallow drawer at Habitat ReStore for upcycling with folding tray table by Sadie Seasongoods

By combining the two, I figured I could have something similar to a butler tray table- but to be used outside. And when the planting season winds down, I can simply collapse it and stow it away until the following year.

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Stencil was provided free of charge by Old Sign Stencils for use in this project, but all opinions are my own.

Potting Bench Plans for a TV Tray and Shallow Drawer

To put my plan in motion, I first needed to remove the excess parts from my drawer- namely the drawer front and the slides on each side. So, I grabbed my drill, removed them, and was left with a nice naked shallow wood box.

Since I’m not into blondes (in terms of wooden furniture), I sanded down both the drawer and tray table to prep them for a makeover.

Folding tray table and shallow drawer to be upcycled into DIY potting bench by Sadie Seasongoods

Now- my plan was to give a new-to-me product a whirl! I was excited to try out this Weathered Wood Accelerator because it’s mysterious. It reacts differently to various types of wood (think of it like a mood ring, but for staining wood).

Weathered wood accelerator by Rustoleum on shallow drawer for potting bench plans by Sadie Seasongoods

But, to be honest? I wasn’t thrilled with the results- at least on whatever wood this shallow drawer was!

Trying to weather the wood of shallow drawer for potting bench plans by Sadie Seasongoods

So, to fix my dismay, I used a favorite wood stain on top of the first product. NOW I was happy- NOW it looked beat up and weathered, like an old fruit crate.

Wood stain on top of weathered wood accelerator on shallow drawer that has been upcycled by Sadie Seasongoods

Using Vinyl Stencils on a DIY Potting Bench

Once I had the look I wanted on the drawer, I decided to give it just a touch more character. Using a gorgeous potting shed stencil from Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils (affiliate link) I set up stenciling shop.

Old sign stencils by Funky Junk Interiors - Potting Shed - for DIY potting bench plans by Sadie Seasongoods

I used my favorite stenciling brushes (from this online shop) and some plain black craft paint. Then, I taped the stencil in place and stippled the paint over the sign.

Vinyl stencils from Funky Junk Interiors on shallow drawer to become planting table or potting bench by Sadie Seasongoods

And it came out perfectly! I’m already planning on my next project using a stencil from her shop- I mean, did you SEE the Buffalo Check one??

Potting bench plans or DIY potting bench with shallow drawer from Habitat ReStore by Sadie Seasongoods

But let’s finish this potting bench first…

A Potting Bench for the Part-Time Gardener

After stenciling, I gave it two light coats of a matte sealant, and then used wood glue to attach the drawer to the folding tray table. Speaking of which, I painted the TV tray brown to coordinate with the shallow drawer.

When all was said and done, I had a sweet little potting table- emphasis on little. And yes, you could also use flat-head screws to connect the drawer to the tray table.

Potting bench or planting table made with shallow drawer and TV tray by Sadie Seasongoods

And it’s perfect for setting up under a shade tree and doing some potting…

Potting bench or planting table for easy storage and portability by Sadie Seasongoods

Isn’t it cute? And the high sides of the shallow drawer will keep things like seeds from rolling off into your grass!

Portable potting bench or potting bench plans with a folding tray table and shallow drawer by Sadie Seasongoods

Portable Potting Bench for Easy Storage

But the best part really is this: either after each use or just at the end of summer, I can fold it up…

How to build a potting bench or planting table from a folding tray table that is portable and easy to store by Sadie Seasongoods

And store it in our shed. It takes up virtually NO room at all and will be as good as new next Spring.

Potting bench plans for a portable potting bench that is small and portable to store in shed by Sadie Seasongoods

I will probably always love the big potting benches with all their bells, whistles, and chippy paint goodness…but with neither the space nor the robust gardening plans, this little potting table is much more my speed.

If you enjoyed this potting bench idea, then you may also be interested in this upcycling collection of garden planters and garden pots, as well!

Upcycling ideas and repurposed projects for garden planters, garden pots, unique planters, and flower box ideas compiled by Sadie Seasongoods

Craft on!


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  1. Christina in FL says

    This is an absolutely stellar, creative project! It opens the door to so many possibilities, thank you! Love the finish in the end!

  2. this is a great idea!! so useful while recycling!!! thank you

  3. So adorable – yes, this is right my alley too. I would love to make one of those huge ones too but they are just not practical. This is perfect!

  4. Margaret says

    What a fabulous, space saving, but workable idea!

  5. GirlfromWVa says

    Love It! Have the tray table. Now I just need an old drawer or something similar!

  6. Super clever Sarah! I’m seeing new nightstands in my future using this design. I’m thinking add a little shelf on the bottom rungs to hold a basket and they would be unique and practical. Thanks for the inspiration. 😊

  7. How cool is that! Definitely pinning. You have such a talent for transforming pieces that most people (including myself) normally just walk by without a second glance.

  8. Amazing {and charming} as usually.

  9. What a terrific idea! Adding this to my “Gotta Try” list.
    Happy to be your neighbor today at This Is How We Roll 🙂

  10. Kathy A. says

    Adorable! As someone else already commented, other uses are popping through my head, too! As a retired occupational therapist, I still hold my life together with Velcro; I think I would Velcro the top to base so I could use it as a butler tray! Perfect for a chairside drink and snacks! That stencil was absolutely perfect for your project! Your turquoise blue would be awesome on it,too.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I totally agree- the concept is just begging for other applications, and I’ve loved all the various ideas! Thank you so very much!

  11. Theresa Sambrano says

    Looks awesome! Love it.

  12. Great idea! I’m thinking of some old folding tables I have and now I’m thinking of the old cheap dressers I’ve seen at yard sales! Thanks for this fun idea – I love the look – you are very talented

  13. Brilliant! Dang, I just donated Mom’s identical wooden tv table to Goodwill because I couldn’t think of anything to make with it. You come up with the best ideas, Sarah and I need to order that stencil. Pinned and shared

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      ARGH, I am all too familiar with “I just gave one away!” and then seeing a good idea. Thank you for the share, my friend!

  14. chris tucker says

    so cute and useful, i was thinking that when my daughter was into making beaded jewelry this would have been perfect sure beat chasing the beads all over as they rolled off the table ha ha pinned xx

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yes!!! That was my thought, too, but with regards to seeds! The raised sides will keep everything from getting lost or spilled. I could TOTALLY see this idea for jewelry making, too…especially if you’re sitting on the couch while beading. 🙂

  15. Genius idea! This would be so awesome for those of us who usually kneel on the ground to do their potting. I, too, have coveted the potting benches I see, but until I get “someone” to make it for me, I may just give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      You know, it’s funny- I thought about forgoing the tray table all together and just using the drawer (with some DIY handles) as a sit-on-the-ground potting surface! The raised sides would keep spilled seeds from rolling into the ground all willy-nilly. So, I think there are all kinds of ideas to be had with this!

  16. What a fabulous project! I am visiting you from Vintage Charm.

  17. the sweetest little project i’ve seen in a long time…

  18. Great idea and great job.

  19. That’s a great idea and I love that it folds up!
    I had to laugh at your glass of water on the table though…I’d end up with dirt in my water. Lol.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Haha, thanks, Cecilia! I’m never without my glass of water, but I know what you’re saying!!

  20. I would put PARTY TRAY or USE ME.

  21. Love this sweet little table! So very functional and who doesn’t have at least one TV tray, right? Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday, Sarah!

  22. Very clever! I love how it turned out, so pretty! Nice that it folds up for easy storage.

  23. I love this idea, but I think I might do something like it for a patio side table. Thank you for the inspiration!

  24. This is such a cute idea. I like that it folds up and doesn’t take up too much room to store it.

  25. What a great idea. I am thinking a nice tray table for the family room. I have 3 of these tables and an old drawer. Thanks for sharing. Love it.

  26. JaneEllen says

    How smart and clever you are making your potting table. So handy also being able to fold up at end of season, and it’s attractive. Could be used for serving food on patio if you decide to use it otherwise. Enjoy your very clever invention and enjoy rest of week.

  27. What a great idea! It turned out so beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us in Sweet Inspiration Link Party

  28. Oh, this is a clever idea. And you’ve styled it beautifully. I love ti.

  29. Simone Russell says

    I love it! what color stain did you use for the box?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thanks, Simone! On top of the accelerator, I used my favorite stain for farmhouse-style projects (affiliate)!

  30. You are so inventive. This is the perfect solution for a small portable potting bench. Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle. I am featuring this week at the party.

  31. That is a very cool potting bench. Love the portability and “storability”.
    Thanks for sharing at Waste Not Wednesday.

  32. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing with us at the To Grandma’s house we go link party – I’ll be featuring this tomorrow morning when the next party starts!

  33. wow that is so cute and I have 6 of those little fold up tables ….I can make plenty little stands now where do I find the drawers ….lol….I guess I will just have to be on the lookout for CURBSIDE FREEBIES are hit some yard sales ….Thanks for posting I love it …

  34. So cute! Too bad it isn’t mounted the other way, then you could use it hung up as a sign of sorts. Love all your projects!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thanks, I actually mounted it that way on purpose to fully illustrate how it collapses! If I wasn’t a blogger and didn’t need to show that, though, I would have mounted it the other way. 🙂

      • I guess I should have said too bad the words aren’t the other direction?? Anyway thanks for all your cute ideas! <3

  35. Just LOVE this idea! I have some portable trays & will give this a try. Would be thrilled if you’d share it at Reader Tip Tuesday:

    It would be a GREAT addition to the party. xo

  36. JUST LOVE THIS!!! Thank you so much for sharing at Reader Tip Tuesday. I am definitely considering making one of these! Hope you join us for more inspiring shares at this week’s party xo

  37. I found your site by fluke today and am thoroughly loving all the projects (and pinning like crazy). This one is fantastic! I have a folding table with tropical fruit drinks painted on them lol! I moved it to my craft room thinking I could use it there but I like your idea so much better. I also liked that you glued the two parts instead of drilling/covering holes etc. which I am not about to do. Great idea!!

  38. What a creative work, Sadie! As a DIY’er, I really appreciate your bench project

  39. Janet johnson says

    This is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.


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  5. […] around in my head for a while, and I’ve finally set aside time to give it a go. See, last year, I repurposed an old drawer into a potting bench and endeavored to recreate the look of an old fruit crate with wood stain. It was at that moment […]

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