Turn Ladders into an Outdoor Potting Station

Give a pair of old ladders new life as a garden-side potting station or display space!

Dig into the corners of your garage. Take a look in the shed out back. If you find a ladder, consider the last time you used it. If it's been a while, it's time to repurpose the climbing device with this idea. Utilized two old ladders as supports for park-bench like shelves to create an instant potting station/display space.

Charming in its own right, a ladder provides geometric form in pleasing contrast to billowing, flower-cloaked shrubs and frothy perennials. Colored with stray drips from long-ago painting projects, it has stories to tell. A broken step or two doesn't pose a problem for this project—it offers a great way to repurpose ladders bound for a trash heap.

If you don't have two old wooden ladders on hand, brake for the next flea market—you can find ladders at junk sales for $5–$10 apiece. The shelves of this project are made from several pieces of inexpensive 2×2 lumber linked every couple of feet with 1×2 lumber cross pieces and screws. They are finished neatly on the ends to resemble the seat portion of a pretty park bench. If you don't want to make shelves like these, a number of other castoffs will work. Be sure to reinforce your structure in the middle if you need support for heavy potting supplies.

What You Need:

  • Two stepladders, approximately the same height
  • 2×2 lumber, cut to the desired lengths. (You will need about seven pieces per shelf)
  • 1×2 crosspieces (You will need supports every 18 to 24 inches, cut to the depth of the shelf)
  • Drill
  • Screws

Step 1: Build Shelves

The shelves of the potting station are easy to make. Each about 7 feet long, they are made with 2×2 lumber spaced about 1 inch apart to create a slatted appearance. The slats are secured every 18–24 inches with a 1×2 crosspiece and screws. For ample storage and display, make the shelves as wide as your ladders will allow. To add a touch of color, paint the lumber before assembling the shelves. A coat of paint or varnish, if you prefer a natural wood look, will protect the shelves from moisture.

Step 2: Set Up Ladders

Because a strong wind can topple the ladders, site the potting station carefully. A protected area near a building that blocks dominant winds is a good choice. Expand the ladders completely, and situate them so their bases are about 5 feet apart. Be sure the step sides of the ladders face toward the inside of the potting station.

Step 3: Attach Shelves

After setting up the ladders, put the slatted shelves in place. Set them atop the ladder steps so they extend through the ladders by at least 8 inches. Attach the shelves to the ladders with screws. Outfit the new garden work space with tools, pots, bags of soil, plants, and vintage garden items.


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