Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

Potted Bench

by cathym on September 26, 2016

Looking for a place to sit down and read the latest Upstate Gardeners’ Journal?

This bench design I saw online and updated is suitable for placing on a deck/patio or on the ground. Don’t let this project intimidate you; while a bit labor intensive, it’s not complicated to build. A helper and access to the power tools listed are must-haves to complete this project.

Before building, you must choose planters for the bench seat to rest on. The pots should be sturdy, thick-walled and wide-lipped; see the materials list for height and width dimensions. High-fired, glazed ceramic planters are best, although I found two hexagonal pots made of an extremely heavy molded material that is neither plastic nor resin.

After bench is built and in use, periodically inspect pots for cracks as a safety precaution.

A special thanks to Woodcraft Supply, LLC. for supplying the beautiful cypress lumber used for this project. Also, a big shout out to my father, Leon Mundt, whose knowledge and craftsmanship were essential to make a sketch into reality. Thanks Dad—you’re the best!

Power saw

Electric drill and bits

Tape measure


Electric sander

Router (optional)



Two sturdy matching planters, 18-20 inches tall, width of outside edge no more than 18¾ inches and no less than 18 inches

2×6 dimensional lumber like redwood, cedar or cypress, cut to these lengths:

A. Two 95½ inches
B. Seven 19 inches
C. Two 96 inches
D. Four 12 inches
E. Two 48½ inches

2 pounds of 3-inch stainless steel deck screws

Medium-grit sandpaper

Deck stain/sealer



Diagram Key

A. 95½ inches: 2 boards
B. 19 inches: 7 boards
C. 96 inches: 2 boards
D. 12 inches: 4 boards
E. 48½ inches: 2 boards


Diagram 1 (overhead view of bench frame; not to scale)



Diagram 2 (side view of “A”, bench frame front and back; not to scale)



Diagram 3 (overhead view of seat boards; not to scale)


1. Using saw, cut lumber to lengths noted in materials list.

2. Layout frame boards (A & B) on a flat surface as shown in Diagram 1.

3. Measure, mark and pre-drill holes as shown by black dots in Diagram 2. Attach frame together with screws, countersinking them.

4. Sand the frame.

5. Referring to Diagram 3, place outside seat boards (C & D) on the frame (boards overhang outside edge ¼ inch; space between boards is ¼ inch). Measure, mark and pre-drill holes, then attach boards to frame with screws, countersinking them.

6. Place inside seat pieces (E) on frame using measurements as shown in Diagram 3 with
¼ inch space in between boards. Measure, mark and pre-drill holes, then attach boards to frame with screws, countersinking them.

7. Sand the seat top. Optional: use a router to round the outside edges before sanding.

8. Using paintbrush, seal the wood with a deck stain/sealer. Let dry according to manufacturer instructions.

9. Place the pots in their desired location and position bench top. Fill planters as desired.


Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and self-proclaimed garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

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