We all have shelves in our homes to help utilize our space, but have you considered extending this idea to outside where space can often be at a premium? You should, because outdoor shelving is a great way to display your plants and prevent your garden from looking too cluttered.
Whether you’re after something rustic, modern, industrial, bohemian, or dramatic, these 15 outdoor garden shelves ideas are bound to get you raring to make the most of your yard.
Practicalities to consider before building or buying outdoor shelving include:
- Size: trying to fill a small space with a large shelf could look overbearing, and likewise, a little shelf on a huge wall could appear lost. Choose something that sits comfortably in the area available.
- Portability: if you think you might want to move your shelves to a different part of your garden at a later date then opt for something free-standing that is easy to maneuver.
- Fixings: whether brackets, eye-hooks, or attached simply using an anchor and screws, choose the fixings most suitable for your wall type.
- Weather: all shelving will need some kind of protection from the elements, whether it be varnishing to protect it from the rain or extra brackets to secure it from wind damage.
1. Fixed Bracket Shelves
These fixed bracket shelves look elegant against a white wall.
Fixed bracket shelves are easy to make using scaffold planks and wall brackets. Painting the brackets the same color as your wall gives the impression the shelves are floating.
These shelves look understated and tasteful and are sturdy enough to withstand most weather conditions, but if you don’t fancy making your own you could always buy an off the shelf set like these rustic wooden floating shelves with L brackets.
Add a Bohemian feel to your garden with macrame shelving.
Macrame has been making a comeback in recent years and a set of macrame shelves would add an air of lightness to any sheltered outdoor space. Perfect for smaller areas and patios, or those little nooks and crannies that you don’t know what to do with.
There are a lot of macrame tutorials available online, and this guide to making a shelf is one of my favorites:
3. Faux Rope Supports
Adding rope to your shelves will give your outdoor space an elegant nautical or coastal feel.
If macrame isn’t your thing, but you like the idea of utilizing rope in your outdoor shelving, then consider using it as faux shelf supports. These shelves combine the durability of the fixed bracket approach with the whimsical and decorative appeal of ropework.
You could experiment with different types of knots and offset different lengths of shelves to give a modern nautical flair to your outdoor space. You could even consider adding rope lights to make a feature of them at night.
Offering charm by the bucketload, a rowboat makes a great outdoor shelving unit.
Fancy going full-on nautical? Boat-shaped shelves add an element of quirk and charm that will set you apart from your neighbors. They are available on Etsy or you could consider adapting an old rowboat.
5. Tiered Decking
Timber deck boards make the perfect tiered outdoor shelves to display your planters.
If your outside space is cluttered with planters and pots why not consolidate them into one or two large displays? Simply use decking boards raised on bricks or breeze blocks to a level that suits your needs.
6. Storage Boxes
Stacked wine boxes make a perfect shelving unit to store pots and display plants.
Shallow wooden storage boxes make effective shelves for garden paraphernalia like these terracotta long tom pots. They would also look great displaying leafy plants such as snake plants where the lush greens of the foliage would contrast against the deep hue of the wood.
Check recycling websites and local hardware and craft stores for little wooden boxes. If you are fixing a number of boxes together consider securing them to the wall to prevent accidents.
7. Bottle Crates
Paint wooden crates the same color as your fence for a farmhouse feel.
I love the rustic farmhouse feel of these outdoor garden shelves. You can use as many or as few crates as you like making them ideal for smaller spaces, and hanging crates both vertically and horizontally provides ample room for different sized plants.
Simple to make and yet very effective, they will blend in beautifully to your garden or yard when painted the same color as your fence or wall.
If you’re feeling adventurous consider planting each of the individual bottle compartments with small plants such as succulents to give the effect of a miniature living wall.
8. Plant Theatre
A plant theatre is perfect for displaying collections of plants.
If you have a narrow wall or outdoor space that you want to fill then a plant theatre could be an ideal choice.
This one is made from an old pallet and was quick and easy to assemble. We used a pallet buster to dismantle our pallet and sanded the planks until they were smooth before cutting them to desired lengths. This theatre is portable as we used eye-hooks and rope to loop it over the metal fencing behind.
Plant theatres are traditionally painted dark colors to showcase your plant collections, but whether you choose to paint yours or not, remember to varnish or oil it to protect it from the elements.
An old ladder used as a set of shelves.
Most of us have a set of step-ladders languishing in the garage or shed – why not bring them out into your garden or outdoor space and give them a new lease of life?
An old wooden set, like the one above, will add a shabby-chic rustic charm to your garden or yard and would be great for displaying small pots of herbs and trays of flowers.
If you don’t have a set of step-ladders stashed away you could always buy a specially made set of ladder shelves from Amazon or a local furniture store.
A bookcase repurposed and painted a bright color will liven up your outdoor space.
If you have a bookcase you no longer need, think about rehoming it in your garden or yard where it could accommodate your potted plants.
For extra drama paint it a bold color. Blue is a great choice if you have terracotta pots as orange and blue are opposites on the color wheel. The brickwork of the house and the color of the clay pots glow against the blue of the bookcase. Shelves like this would be sure to brighten up any drab outdoor space.
11. Bedroom Furniture
An old set of drawers would be a great way to provide a tiered plant display in your garden or yard.
Whilst we’re on the subject of household furniture, why not think a little outside the box and experiment with old dressers and vanity units?
Not only will a set of drawers provide adequate storage for your gardening accoutrements, but if you leave the drawers open at different gradients it will create a tiered shelving effect.
If choosing this option you will need to varnish the unit and line the drawers to protect them from the elements.
12. Tree Shelves
Building shelving around a tree in your yard or garden.
For something really quirky why not consider building shelving around a tree already in your garden or yard? Not only would the shelves be unique to you, but it could also provide you with a little reading nook to blissfully while away an hour or two.
The skill level involved in this is more advanced than repurposing furniture or making shelving from pallets, so it might be worth consulting a professional joiner or carpenter to commission something special.
For a modern industrial look make iron rebar shelving.
Iron rebar foundation mesh can be transformed to make this industrial and modern set of shelves. It is ideal for larger vertical spaces or for disguising an ugly wall. To avoid it looking too chaotic display your plants in matching pots.
Try local builders yards and depots for their rebar supplies and be creative in your outdoor shelf design. You would need to consider securing taller structures to the wall, but the sky is your limit with these!
14. French Chic
A delicate wire shelf adds an old-world charm especially when combined with pretty flowers such as lavender.
Have you considered a little bit of Old World French chic in your garden? This small wire outdoor shelf looks fabulous with a little bit of rust and wear, and stocked with lavender.
Light enough to be moved around your garden, this compact shelf has the advantage of being able to fit into many small spaces making it ideal for patios and smaller yards. Scour flea markets or check Amazon for something similar, such as this outdoor iron plant stand.
15. Window or Balcony.
Make the most of your window or balcony by adapting the guardrails into shelving.
If you have a balcony or a window with railings and you really want to make a statement why not transform them into outdoor shelving for your plants? This style of shelving allows you to garden in even the smallest of spaces.
Check with your local authority and read the small print of your lease agreement to make sure you stay within the planning and weight restrictions before making any major changes.
The type of baluster you choose will determine the look and character of your shelves. Pick something sleek for a modern approach, or go all-out ornate and theatrical like these – decide which best suits your personality, and then lavish them with plants.