How to Make an Upcycled Lettuce Table
See how we turned an old desk into a waist-high planter box perfect for growing greens, herbs and other shallow-rooted plants and vegetables.
A lettuce table is great if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space to garden. It can fit on a small patio or lanai and can be moved in and out of the sun as needed. Buying an elevated planter box like this can cost a lot of money, but upcycling an old desk or table will cost less and add a ton of character to your lettuce garden.
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Step 1: Cut Out Opening
We cut a hole in the top of our desk to insert a plastic tub in which we’ll grow our lettuce. Give your upcycled desk a good cleaning. If it has a drawer, remove it. Place the plastic tub on top of the desk and trace an outline of it with a marker. Drill pilot holes at the corner of the outline. Place a jigsaw blade in that pilot hole to begin cutting out the entire outline. After the opening is cut, sand any rough edges.
Step 2: Reinforce the Desk
The weight of soil and plants might get too heavy for an old desk to hold. To make it more stable, cut 1x2 wood to fit around the hole on the underside of the desk. Secure the wood with screws.
Step 3: Remove Drawer and Resecure Face
Remove the face of the drawer from the drawer box by cutting it with a jigsaw, or you may be able to give it a few taps with a rubber mallet. Attach 1x2 blocks onto the sides of the drawer opening. Then permanently attach the drawer face to those blocks with finishing nails.
Step 4: Paint the Desk
Be sure to use exterior paint when choosing the perfect color for your lettuce table. We used a soft blush pink. Add a coat of clear polyurethane for added protection.
Step 5: Prep the Tub
Drill holes into the bottom of the tub for drainage, then place the tub into the desk opening.
Step 6: Add Drawer Pulls
If your desk needs new hardware, add decorative cabinet pulls to the drawer front.
Step 7: Plant Lettuce
Fill the tub with lightweight soil. Potting soil mixed with vermiculite works well. Lettuces grow best in cool weather, so plant in early spring or early fall. In the summer, use your lettuce table for herbs such as sage, basil or mint. Place other accessories on the desk, like kitchen scissors and cutting boards. Add shade plants under the desk to catch drainage and complete the look.
There's no need to spend big bucks on planters and flower pots. Look around the house or scour thrift stores and flea markets for unique vessels to add personality to your patio.