There have been two items on my “Kelly-do” list as of late:
- Change out my old, worn laundry room utility sink.
- Build a standing height garden to plant veggies.
I tackled number 1 recently and I had all intentions of listing the well-used utility sink on the “Free Stuff” section of Craigslist… until I had an epiphany. This sink has the potential to be number 2 on my list – it’s a standing garden! “Whaaaaat?”, you ask? Stay with me…
This was my idea: Use the sink basin as a planting bed, create a wooden facade to make it look more “vegetable garden-ish,” figure out how to connect a hose to the faucet, and create a tiny PVC irrigation system. The idea excited me so much, I nearly wet my plants. (insert laughter here)
It cost around $40 in materials and took half a day to make. This is an intermediate skill DIY project that requires basic building knowledge and a few power tools.
Here’s how I turned my old utility sink into a standing garden!
I used the following tools:
- My Harbor Freight Tools 12″ Miter Saw (all the cuts are straight cuts, nothing fancy here, so chop saw or circular saw would work too!)
- My beloved Ryobi Airstrike Brad Nailer (I’ve raved about this baby before, best tool EVER and no I’m still not paid to say that!)
- My Ryobi 18V Power Drill (You’ll need 3/16″ drill bit and basic phillips bit)
- And my newest tool, my Ryobi Orbital Sander (You could also just use some sandpaper, but this thing is just so fun to use!)
And I used the following materials:
- Old Utility Sink: FREE!
- PVC 90 Degree Elbow : $.98
- 2′ PVC Pipe: $1.94
- (5) Stock Pine Fence Pickets: $.97 ea = $4.85
- 1x4x6 Pine Board: $6.77
- 1x4x8 Pine Board: $8.67
- (2) 1x2x6 Pine Board: $3.41ea = $6.82
- Brass Fitting: $8.78 (found one for less here!)
- Galvanized screws, exterior wood fill, weatherproofer/exterior stain, garden hose: Had!
- Hose Y Connector: $.79 (From Christmas Tree Shops, similiar item here.)
Grand Total: $39.60
Note on all the pine boards: I opted to NOT use pressure treated pine (with the exception of the fence pickets) as I did not want those chemicals to come in contact with my vegetables. Using cedar for this project would have been ideal. It was simply pricier and harder to find in the sizes I needed, so I went with the pine!
Step 1 Clean.
If the basin of your sink is really dirty or has any dried paint or yuck in it now is the time to give it a good scrubbing. Rinse well and allow to dry.
Step 2 Cut.
Since the sink is plastic, nailing or screwing boards into it could potentially cause cracking, so I designed a wooden slip cover of sorts. Utility sinks have a few standard sizes, but each will have slightly different measurements depending on brand, year made, etc. So, if you’re replicating this project be sure to take your own measurements! Any measurements provided below are just for example.
I cut the fence pickets to 15″. These were used to cover the body of the sink, so they were just a touch longer than the outer depth. I was able to get 4 x 15″ pieces out of each picket (discarding the pointed ends).
The 1×4 pine was used for the top trim and top ledge. It’s important to use wood that is at least 1″ thick, as these are the support pieces that essentially hold the whole “slipcover” up. The 1×2 pine was used for my bottom and back trim.
Step 3 Build.
I used 7 pickets on each side panel, and 6 pickets on the front. On the front panel I needed to trim one picket down by an inch in width to match the dimensions of my sink. I wood glued the pickets to the backside of my 1×4 top trim and 1×2 bottom trim, then brad nailed them into place.
I went end to end with the pickets on the side panels. On the front panel I only ran pickets the actual width of the sink, centered. My top trim and bottom trim were intentionally longer in order to connect it to the side panels later on. (see picture below)
For the top ledge I made two pocket holes on each side with my awesome Kreg Jig (yes, it’s all it’s cracked up to be!) This invisibly connected the pieces by securing them with pocket screws.
Once all of the panels were created it looked like this:
Step 4 Assemble!
I placed my top ledge on the sink and used two handy dandy clamps to hold each panel on. I secured the panels to the top ledge with 2″ galvanized screws, countersinking them slightly.
Once all of the panels were on, I attached the front panel to the side panels using 2″ screws on the bottom trim and some brad nails on the top trim.
For the last step of the assembly, I added additional 1×2″ trim to the back of the side panels and across the top, behind the faucet. This was to ensure the “slip cover” would stay in place, and to give it a finished look.
Here it is assembled:
Step 5 Finishing.
I used stainable wood fill to cover all the screw holes then sanded them down smooth with my Ryobi Orbital Sander. (DIY Oopsie Daisy: Unlike me, ensure you’re using exterior wood fill, or the wood fill will expand and raise above the hole when it gets wet!) Although I liked the light look of the wood, I wanted to protect it from weathering. I used two coats of Behr Weatherproofing in the color “natural” that I had on hand from a previous project. I did not stain the underneath or sides of the top ledge, I left them plain and untreated to avoid direct chemical contact with the soil.
Step 6 Irrigation.
I purchased a nifty brass fitting that allowed me to hook up my garden hose to the sink faucet. I personally think this is what makes this project so cool! Before you buy, check the measurements of your connections. The garden hose size is standard, but the faucet connection size may vary. I tightened it onto the cold side of the faucet (you’ll need to pick a side), then tightened an old short garden hose I had onto the other end. I used an inexpensive Y connector on my spigot so I can have this and my regular garden hose connected at once.
Now that the sink worked, it was time to assemble the irrigation system. Using a 2 foot piece of 1 inch round PVC pipe and one 90 degree elbow fitting, I created an L shaped pipe. I cut the 2′ piece into two parts, one shorter than the other – the longer side was almost the length of my sink basin. Then using a 3/16 drill bit, I drilled a bunch of holes in the longer side of the piece. I placed both pieces into the 90 degree elbow fitting. It was a very snug fit, so there was no need to use PVC cement to keep them together.
With the same 3/16 bit, I drilled about 15 holes in the bottom of the sink for soil drainage.
I put about 2/3 of the soil into the sink then placed the irrigation line in as pictured. Don’t put it too deep or the water will miss the roots!
Be sure to line up the top hole with the faucet! Once set, I covered it with the remaining soil leaving a small amount of pipe sticking out. To keep it in place I put some landscaping stones around the base. Now watering is as easy as turning the faucet on!
Step 7 Planting!!!
My sister picked me up some fabulous organic vegetable plants from Terrain at Stylers. (If you live in Southern NJ, DE, or Eastern PA you have to go to this incredible nursery and eat at their delicious farm-to-table restaurant!)
The dimensions of my sink allowed me to plant 4 veggies comfortably. I chose purple peppers (how fun?), cucumbers (yum!), baby eggplant (adorable!), and Italian sweet peppers (more yum!) My cucumbers needed a trellis to grow onto so I added wire edge fencing that I had on hand to the very back.
Finally, I added DIY plant markers that took all of $5 and 5 minutes to make. Tutorial coming soon! And with that, my standing garden with irrigation was complete!
I’m so thrilled with how it came out! I’m super excited to harvest some veggies later this summer. Here are some closer views:
Before and after:
So next time you scroll past free utility sink on Craigslist or stumble upon one cheap at a garage sale, consider wetting your plants.
This post is not sponsored, all opinions and instructions are my own. Please DIY at your own risk. This post contains affiliate links.
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