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How to Make a Potting Station

Looking for a way to organize your gardening supplies so that potting and transplanting become so much easier?

Look no further than creating your own potting station. You can set this up in your garage, basement, workroom, shed, deck, dining room table, or anywhere else you have a little bit of space to work.

Photo of Sarah's potting station
Photo of Sarah’s potting station

Portable Potting Station

My favourite way to organize my potting supplies is by using this portable potting station. In my garage I have a 6ft folding table set up with all of my supplies on top and underneath it. I have this set up along a wall where I can easily move it around, keep it set up during the gardening season, or take it down when I don’t need it. The nice thing about using a folding table is that you really have two places to store your items – on top and below.

Photo of hand tools, labels, and China markers for a potting station
Photo of hand tools, labels, and China markers for a potting station

Potting Station Supplies

To get set up with your own potting station, here are the supplies that I keep handy. I have provided some recommendations and alternatives for your consideration. Please note that I am not sponsored by anyone. These are my true recommendations from years of satisfied use:

  • Table – this can be any size depending on your space. I like a 6ft folding table as it fits well in my garage along the wall but you can get any size folding table between 4ft and 8ft in length. There are also square-shaped folding tables if that works better for you to place in a corner to save space. You may be using your dining room table or kitchen counter. You could even use two sawhorses and a sheet of plywood. Really, anything to set up a work surface where you feel comfortable making a mess!
  • Bag of potting soil – I do a lot of potting so I like to use these large 3 cubic foot bags of Promix BX. I cut the top of the bag in an “H” shape to fold out the sides and use a hand shovel to scoop out the soil, keeping the bag intact. You may not need this size of a bag so getting a smaller bag might be better for you. I like using potting soil that does not have any chemical fertilizers in it because I add my own natural/organic fertilizers. You may even wish to use coconut coir, compost, or another alternative to potting soil.
  • Natural/organic fertilizer – I like to use either worm castings, cattle manure, or the hen manure pellets pictured here. I’ll pour a bag into a 5 gallon pail and store the pail under or near my folding table for when I need it. If you get a 5 gallon pail from a store, try to get a lid too. You can use the lid to cover your pails to store your fertilizer or stack them when not in use. This saves space and keeps your workstation clean. I also label my pails and bins using China markers so that I can easily write on them and wipe it off later when I’m using them for something else. It’s better than using Sharpies as it’s non-permanent. If you don’t need large pails, you can always just use a clip to close the bag when not in use.
  • Pots – I like using a variety of different sized pots from 4″ to 8″ size. I wash out plastic food containers like the large yogurt containers and drill holes in the bottom to use them as pots. I also like buying the red cups from Costco where I stack several of them and drill three holes in the bottom. You can also cut cardboard milk cartons in half, or use rolled up newspaper pots. Anything that you prefer, that holds soil, with some drainage at the bottom, works.
  • N95 Masks – to protect from dust and fungal spores while working with potting soil.
  • Watering can – Ideally a larger 1 gallon one with a long narrow spout is very handy. This allows you to direct the water where you want to rather than the rain shower effect that you get from the cans with multiple holes in the spout. When working with seedlings, you’ll want to be gentle with your watering, ideally watering from the bottom. I cover this in my previous post about seed starting.
  • Plant labels – These are great to have on-hand in your potting station when you are planting seeds or transplanting. Again, I use the China markers to write on the pots and labels so that I can wipe off the writing and reuse them, rather than using a permanent marker. The multicolour pack of China markers comes with black, red, yellow, and white – so if you have dark-coloured pots you can write on them with the yellow or white markers, or use black or red on the white labels. I like the longer 7″ labels for plants that I grow in grow bags and the shorter 4″ labels for when I’m transplanting or growing seedlings that I will later plant in the garden.
  • Gardening gloves – I love the Gardena gloves from Costco. You can usually get a multi pack of them in the spring and they’ll last you several seasons. I tend to leave my gloves all over the place – some in the garage, some in the backyard, some in the house. To have multiple, good-quality gloves on-hand always makes tasks in the garden easier. These Gardena ones tend not to rip easily and you can hose them off in the summer time when they get dirty. They last a long time!
  • Good quality hand shovel / trowel – Nothing is more frustrating than having your shovel bend and break when you are working outside digging in your garden. I have a variety of cheap shovels I have purchased over the years and finally caved to buy the larger one pictured here. It’s more heavy-duty, a little more expensive, but it works really well and is the right size for what I need. Here is a similar one from Home Hardware that is stainless steel. I also use a little plastic scoop at my potting station to scoop the potting soil and fertilizer into the pots. It’s just the right narrow size and shape to comfortably fill my pots without spilling over. It also holds just enough potting soil when I’m filling the small pots that I only need one scoop so saves me a bit of time. Sometimes my Promix potting soil will harden in the bag if I leave the bag open for a while (I think it hardens as the moisture evaporates), so I use the metal trowel to break up the chunks of soil before I go back to using my plastic scoop again. I also have an amazing weeding tool and a root knife from Lee Valley that complete my must-have list of hand tools for the garden. I may write another post about my favourite garden tools but you can check these out I highly recommend them.
  • Scissors, shears, and pruners – I have at least three different kinds of cutting tools at my potting station. I have a small set of scissors for tasks like cutting twine and a larger set of scissors that are more like kitchen shears. They’re good for cutting plastic, cardboard etc. I also have some stainless steel shears and pruners. I say stainless steel because I’ve left their predecessors outside many times in the rain by accident and lost some over the years as they rusted away. Now I only buy one good set of stainless tools so it forces me to take better care of them! I use a small set of shears (with the narrow tips like tiny scissors) for things like trimming seedlings, leaves, stems, etc. I also have the larger bypass pruners for more woody / thicker plants. I keep some rubbing alcohol near my potting station too for when I need to sterilize the cutting tools between plants.
  • Plant trays – I like these 11 x 22″ standard size plastic trays since they stack nicely and can be reused from year to year. If you are looking for some of these, you can get them at Canadian Tire, Walmart, etc. for the thinner ones, but if you go to a specialty store like a nursery or hydroponics store, they’ll likely have the thicker ones that are a bit less flimsy. I have a mix of both the thinner and thicker plastic ones and like that whatever brand they are, they stack to save space as they are a standard length and width.
  • Hand broom and dust pan – This is a lovely set to have handy as potting gets very messy very quickly. I have a garbage can with a lid in my garage to catch anything I’m not reusing, but typically if I’m potting, I can sweep up the over spill and just dump it back into my bag of Promix.
  • Other handy things to keep at a potting station – Plastic bins with lids are handy to store gardening supplies all in one place like hoses, nozzles, frost covering fabric, plant clips, twine, etc. I also like using those small grocery bins that have the two straps for carrying. They’re a bit more lightweight and easier to work with than 5 gallon pails sometimes when I’m in the garden. They are very durable and easy to hose out when they get messy. I also keep some paper yard bags, cardboard boxes, larger plant trays and extra Jiffy pellets on-hand as I’m always looking for these supplies. Keeping them all in one place helps me stay organized and know where my supplies are. Another great use for the China markers is labelling your plastic bins and lids. These markers work on wood, plastic, glass, metal, stone – really most surfaces. They don’t wash off when you water your plants or when it rains. You can use rubbing alcohol or scrub them to get it off but they last a long time.
Photo of Promix potting soil with pots, labels, and hen manure fertilizer
Photo of Promix potting soil with pots, labels, and hen manure fertilizer
Photo of stacked yogurt cups and other containers that can be used for potting plants
Photo of stacked yogurt cups and other containers that can be used for potting plants
Photo of different sized pots on a shelf
Photo of different sized pots on a shelf

Using Your Potting Station

When I am ready to using my potting station, I’ll set up the table and place my supplies in cups and containers so they are visible and ready to use. I’m able to line up what I need in the order that I will need these items. First I’ll place the pots in the plastic trays, then the fertilizer, then the potting soil, then the watering can, then the labels. I’ll start by scooping a little bit of fertilizer (1/3) in the bottom of the pots, then I fill the rest of the pots with the potting soil (2/3, leaving 1/2″ at the top), then I move to watering the pots, then labelling. Watering dry potting soil can take some patience as it needs to rehydrate fully. You may need to water first, then leave some water in the bottom of the tray to let it soak it up from the bottom of the pots through the holes. I then move my trays to another area to keep filling them and then I’ll get into seeding or transplanting once my trays are ready and watered.

Benefits of an Organized Potting Station

By having a simple and organized set up in an area where you can store your supplies, you will be more motivated to use it and you will save time and energy when it comes to prepping your pots.

I save time because I’m not spending hours gathering all my needed supplies from all corners of the house or garage – they are already there, in the properly labelled containers or bins. I also find that by being able to visually see all of my supplies in one place, I save money because I know which supplies I already have and am not buying new supplies unnecessarily.

Every supply has a “home” and it is returned to that home when I’m done using it.

I’m fortunate that I can keep this set up in my garage throughout the gardening season and that I also have some shelving above my potting station to hold extra pots and supplies.

If you don’t have the space for this, you can still keep a couple bins with lids handy and label them so they are ready for you. If you are working inside your home as your potting station, you can always get a boot tray to work inside and use that to contain your potting soil as you work. You may not be potting a lot of plants either, so perhaps getting smaller bags of potting soil and fertilizer that you can more easily store would be better. Whatever works for you and where you feel comfortable making a bit of a mess as that’s all part of the fun!


Through the strategic placement of what you need, together, in a convenient location, you will find that gardening becomes more enjoyable.

You’ll know where your supplies are and which supplies you already have. By setting up my potting station in this way, I can spend more time outside, observing, pruning, watering, and enjoying the garden; and less time frustrated looking around for what I need when I need it.

I hope you find joy in organizing your tools and making a space you can call your own.

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