Best Outdoor Shelving Solutions for Plants


Growing plants outdoors is an incredibly fulfilling way to connect with nature. However, some people just don’t have the garden space for all kinds of flower beds.

To help remedy those issues, you might want to go for outdoor shelving. 

The best outdoor shelving solutions for plants include hanging wall fixtures, tiered stands, and weatherproof storage units. Consider the amount of land you have available that meets your plants’ sunlight needs, materials that suit your climate, and whether you’d like a static or portable model.

Many factors determine what the best outdoor shelving solution is for you.

Instead of just telling you which one is right, we’ll take you through everything you need to consider before you choose. Keep reading to find the best option for you!

Where To Keep Your Plants

Depending on what kinds of plants you’re trying to grow, you may need to store them in various places. All of your plants will have different needs in terms of sunlight, so you must give them a proper home so they can grow to their full potential. 

However, it can be tricky to determine exactly where you can find the appropriate conditions or what they actually mean.

Check out this guide to help you figure out where your shelving solution should stand depending on your own plant varieties. 

Determining Level of Sunlight

It’s not always as simple as you might think to figure out the level of sunlight your plants will receive in a given area.

Even if you have an idea of the sun’s strength in a spot, double-checking before you build a plant home there is the safest option. 

To do this, keep an eye on the garden space for the week, peeking every half hour or so throughout the day to find the average time this spot spends in the sun. From there, your job is easy. 

Full Sunlight

Most plants out there require full sunlight, but what does this actually entail? Contrary to popular belief, a “full sun” area doesn’t mean it’s covered with direct light every waking moment.

Your space only needs about six hours of direct sun for it to be considered a full sunlight area.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Full sun areas tend to dry out easily, so your plants may need a bit of help retaining water in the soil.

Luckily, that’s an easy problem to solve. Adding on a thick layer of mulch on top of the dirt will support your plant’s hydration needs.

Similarly, some plants may overheat in direct sunlight on steamy days. Check the labels provided when you bring your greenery home for any warnings against ultra-warm weather.

In such cases, you may need to move them out of the bright light on hot days. A portable shelving unit would be perfect for plants like these. 

Partial Sun or Shade

As you can guess, partial sun or shade plants need specific combinations of both light levels. Most of this vegetation requires between three to six hours of sun every day.

Unlike full sun species, partial plants prefer cooler light that comes in the morning or early afternoon. 

Partial sun plants only need a few hours of sunlight in a day, so aim for an area that fits the lower end of the spectrum when finding them a home.

If your plants aren’t growing much or producing flowers, your spot may be too shady for them. In this case, it’s best to move them to a slightly sunnier spot. It may take a couple of tries to find the sweet spot, but that’s okay! 

As for partial shade types, place them somewhere they can relish in some shade during the hottest parts of the day: late afternoon.

The east side of a building or tree will cast the perfect shadow for them while the sun is at this position in the sky, providing them with some much-needed rest. 

Full Shade

A better name for these types of plants would be “low light” or “mostly shade” since “full shade” can be a bit misleading. Full shade plants do, in fact, require sunlight – just not much of it. These varieties get by on just three hours of direct sun per day.

The rest of the time, they bathe in filtered light. 

When it comes to outdoor plants, filtered light refers to softer sunlight that’s diffused overhead

Freestanding vs. Mounted

An important question to consider when choosing a plant shelving solution is if you’d rather have a freestanding or mounted version.

Freestanding

Freestanding models often come in more stylish versions as there the nature of these options allowed for more exciting design features. As freestanding shelves are composed of more materials, they are also often more expensive than their mounted counterparts. 

However, you’ll also gain advantages such as larger shelving space, safer and heavier weight supports, and no need for installation.

This also makes them a perfect choice for those who cannot drill into walls for rental or other reasons. 

Mounted

On the other hand, freestanding models can take up quite a significant amount of space. Mounted varieties are helpful alternatives for a limited footprint.

These shelves can also be fairly inexpensive, convenient for a small number of plants, and help keep ground-bound animals out of your pots. 

Portable vs. Static

Another factor to consider when picking out a shelving option is whether you want yours to be portable or static. Of course, if you opt for a mounted shelf, it will be static by default

If you’d like to get a freestanding fixture, you will have a choice to make. 

Portable

A portable fixture is a convenient option if you have plants sensitive to extreme heat. Instead of taking each potted plant off your stand individually, you can easily move the entire shelving unit to a more suitable area. In any extreme weather or frost, you can transport your plant babies to ensure they are all well-protected. 

Portable shelving solutions are also beneficial when it comes to picking a home for your plants. You have the freedom to play around with different locations to achieve the necessary sunlight.

Similarly, you can swap out the kinds of plants you store here without having to buy for the same sun conditions. Want to change up your full-shade potted plants to partial shade? Do it and move it! 

Even if your shelving unit isn’t on wheels, smaller fixtures will be much more convenient to move around as needed than large complex pieces. 

Static 

As mentioned, all mounted shelves are essentially static by nature. Yes, you may be able to loosen the screws and reinstall your shelf elsewhere, but we don’t consider that portable. The same logic follows for large units that take significant effort to change locations. When we say static, think heavy, big, or otherwise difficult to move. 

If you’re certain about a given location, static pieces are desirable options. They’re more stable than their mobile counterparts as they won’t easily shift out of place.

If you live somewhere with significant wind speeds, uneven ground, or kids and large dogs who may easily send your piece flying, static fixtures will be optimal for you. 

Store-Bought vs. DIY

Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a piece, the question that remains is: will you buy or build it?

Store-Bought

It’s a no-brainer that store-bought pieces are much more convenient than building your own outdoor shelving solution. You can easily pick out the exact model you want that fits well into your space, assemble it, and you’re good to go.

The downside is that store-bought versions can easily be more expensive. Plus, whether you go with a bought or built kind, you’ll still have to put it together.

DIY

If you have the tools and abilities to create your own shelving solution, it can save you some cash and be a fun, creative project.

DIY versions are one-of-a-kind, and they’ll always be the perfect size for wherever you need it. They are built to order, of course. It’s easy to find stylish models with detailed instructions on Pinterest or similar sites. 

If you aren’t a seasoned pro when it comes to woodworking, you’ll either have to invest in more tools or make do with what you have.

There can also be a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never undertaken a project like this before. Still, it’s never too late to learn something new! 

Material Type

Much of your specific needs in terms of material type depends on your climate. If your area is prone to wind, make sure you’re buying something heavy enough that it won’t get blown away if there’s not much on it.

Still, if you want a portable piece, it should be on wheels or light enough to actually move it. 

Similarly, if your fixture is static, make sure it’s weatherproof. The last thing you’d want is for your shelves to succumb to rust over the winter or rainy reasons.

Let’s take a look at some popular materials for plant shelving structures. 

Wood 

When it comes to outdoor shelving solutions for plants, wood is the main type you will see. As wood is a natural material, it makes sense to pair it with vegetation.

Outdoor shelves and garden accessories can be composed of many different wood types, each with its own characteristics. 

Cedar, for example, is durable, lightweight, and unlikely to crack. Plus, it has naturally occurring anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, so it should last for a long time. Teak is another popular medium for outdoor shelving.

It’s tough against rot and decay, even in damp environments. Plus, its oils naturally preserve it. Both teak and cedar will change color if not treated, but leaving it uncoated won’t harm the wood’s longevity. 

If you’re considering DIYing your shelves, wood will be the way to go. 

Wrought Iron 

For a more elevated look, try wrought iron. This gorgeous material adds a classic touch to homes inside and out. For those who aren’t familiar with this metal, it’s the typical 19th-century blacksmith medium.

As opposed to cast-iron, which is melted and poured, wrought iron is heated and hammered to create the desired shape. 

Wrought iron is a very strong material that can handle a lot. The one drawback is that iron is likely to corrode if not cared for meticulously. Iron is prone to oxidation, so it’s best to keep them dry as much as possible.

Of course, this likely won’t be possible year-round, so if you opt for a wrought iron fixture, a portable version will be your best bet. 

However, there are some preventative measures you can take to fight rust. Paint and powder coatings are two common ways to protect the metal. When it comes to outdoor use, the powder is the winner, thanks to its longevity and wear-resistance.

Plastic 

Plastic is probably the most uncommon of these materials but still an option for outdoor shelving. These may be more prone to cracking than other options, but they’ll still get the job done.

Since they’re frailer in nature, plastic plant shelving may not be able to bear the weight of all your plants. This shouldn’t be a problem for most, but heavy plants or significant pots may be too much for the plastic to handle.

On the other hand, plastic is highly durable in all kinds of weather and is wipeable. There isn’t much, if any, upkeep needed for these, so they’re a great low-maintenance option. 

Wall Fixture

Hanging wall fixtures are beautiful ways to store your plants outdoors or indoors. The N/V Hanging Planter Boxes are made with 100% natural burnt pine, giving this shelving solution a unique, rustic look and texture.

Before you get ahead of yourself, no, burnt wood does not mean it’s flawed. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is a woodworking craft that dates back to the 17th century. This technique prevents the wood from retaining moisture, so it lasts longer. 

Each set comes with three-tiered flower boxes that you can attach to a fence, gate, or wall. The set is attached by handmade linen rope but can be adjusted and removed to suit your ideal layout. 

As with all static wall fixtures, make sure you have consent from proper authorities (if applicable to you) like landlords before drilling any holes. 

Tiered Stand

If you have room for a tiered plant stand, we highly recommend them. Tooca’s 9-Tier Wood Plant Stand is a definite eye-catcher.

These stands are perfectly symmetrical, but the various tiers add a unique element that makes the Tooca stand the star of any garden.

The tiered design also helps plants get the most sunlight possible — a perfect solution if you want to grow many plants but have a limited area that achieves direct sunlight. It holds up to 17 pots!

Carbonized wood not only creates a stunning, rich surface color but also reduces the risk of deformation and cracking.

Best of all, it’s easy to put this tiered stand together with just a few provided tools. No professional skills are needed. 

Wrought Iron Wheel

Wrought iron may be a traditional material, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also come in fun designs.

This SZXXC European-Style Retro Plant Stand looks like it’s taking your flora on a Ferris wheel. It’s on rolling wheels of its own, too, so you can transport it wherever you need to.

This is a huge advantage as you can always ensure any plants on your stand are getting adequate sunlight levels, provided they all thrive in the same conditions. 

Wrought iron is sturdy, but this piece has been sprayed with high quality, non-corrosive products to ensure it lasts even longer.

This fixture is suitable for any weather: it’s waterproof and rust-proof! You’ll still have to clean the plant stand, but it’s easy to care for. All you need to do is gently wipe it down to keep it nice and healthy. 

Plastic Shelving Unit

Garage shelving stands actually make fantastic plant shelving. Thanks to this VonHaus 5 Tier Garage Shelving Unit’s interlocking mechanisms, you can achieve great heights that are totally foolproof.

There’s no need for tools while assembling the components, but you can securely attach the unit to the side of your garage or a fence courtesy of the handy wall brackets.

Taking this extra step can definitely come in handy on windy days.

This is a great option for those who have many plants but not a lot of space for them. Instead, just go vertically!

Lower light plants can thrive on these shelves, too, as each tier provides a bit of shade underneath. Plus, durable polypropylene will never rust or be affected by the weather. It’s kind of the perfect solution. 

Hanging Rope Shelf

If you need the ultimate portable space saver, the EcoKai Vertical Hanging Planter Shelf is it. This macrame-inspired piece balances four levels of ethically-sourced cedar platforms attached with a cotton rope.

The top is looped, so you can hang this handmade piece on anything. No need to permanently install! Enjoy five feet (1.5 meters) of plants without any footprint on the ground. 

Final Thoughts

When choosing an outdoor shelving solution for your plants, there are many factors to consider, including the quantity of sunlight your flora needs to thrive, the amount of available land you have, and the type of climate you live in.

Exploring all of these variables can help you choose where to place your stand, whether it’s mobile or static, and the type of material to look for. 

Sources

Captain

I'm Chuck (the Captain). I'm passionate about my outdoor space and love sharing my experiences with the world at large. I want Captain Patio to become the best place on the internet to find, share, and learn about all things patio-related. When I'm not keeping up my content schedule, I'm spending time with my wife and two kids (usually on my patio!).

Recent Posts