Low or No Cost Plant Light Stand DIY
It’s almost time to start those seedlings indoors! I’ve been starting my own plants for a several years now and like everything else garden related I seem to need more and more space. I have this workbench in the unfinished part of our basement that I made with two wooden brackets, a piece of fiberboard and a reclaimed pegboard years ago. I have a two bulb florescent light that hangs from two chains on hooks in the floor joists above.
Like all empty horizontal surfaces it has become a magnet for things I put there “for now”. Those two words, “for now”, will lead you down the path to disorganization and clutter faster than a hoarder at a church rummage sale. I plan to clear it off during the winter and then when spring rolls around and I want to start plants I shove things into a box to make room for seedlings. This has worked out okay. I can raise or lower the light by changing where I hook into the chains and I usually end up putting boxes under the short plants as I raise the light to accommodate faster growing, taller plants. Last year I tried something different using my porch swing and I liked being able to use some natural light, but the table I used is no longer in that spot and I needed that space for another purpose. What to do…..what to do….?
I started looking at plans on the internet for plant light stands I could build (I also shopped some garden supply catalogs. drool) and found quite a few. The majority were either built of wood or built of PVC pipe. Some looked unnecessarily sturdy (and bulky), some looked a bit shaky. Above all, I wanted something with a small footprint that I could make for little or no cost. I considered a rusty 4 tier metal shelf that we have but then I would have to buy four 3 foot lights. I already have one 4 foot florescent light and there was another in the garage that might work. I put two new bulbs in it and plugged it in. It works-yeah! If I could build some kind of shelf to put plants on and hang the second light under it, I could double my space.
I had a section of coated wire shelving that I had purchased at Habitat for Humanity some time ago for $2 that didn’t work out. I considered the metal braces that are normally used for that kind of shelving but the framing behind the pegboard wasn’t in the right location. I would need some way to support that wire shelf. I mentioned this to my handy husband and he volunteered to build it for me, even better!!
Here’s what we used (all from other project scraps in the garage):
(4) 16 1/4 ” 2×4 (uprights)
(1) 50 ” 1×3 (back brace piece)
(2) 14 5/8″ 1×4 (top of each end frame)
(8) 1 1/2″ deck screws ( 2 each drilled from the top piece into the upright)
(6) 1″ Screws (3 on each side attaching the back brace)
(2) screw eyes (to hang the light underneath the frame)
(4) drapery hooks (or S hooks to attach the light to the chain)
(2) pieces of chain to hang the light
Here is the finished frame:
Here is how the shelf fits on top of the frame:
When the wire shelf was first placed over the frame the center wire added a little height so that the shelf was rocky. Husband solved that problem by cutting a small groove for the wire to rest in (1):
The screw eye and drapery hook were added to hang the chain (2). Another solution would have been to flip the shelf over so the lip would be up instead of down or add two small sections of scrap wood on each end where the shelf would rest. He also notched the back support legs to fit the brace (3) but that isn’t necessary. If you only have one light, you might consider making the legs longer to allow more room for plant growth.
I used a spare power strip and extension cord to complete the project:
You may not have these exact materials around the garage but I hope this gives you some inspiration and/or a frame work to start with. Wire shelving is very common at the Habitat Restore and not that expensive to purchase new (it’s the braces and special hardware that drive up the cost of wire shelving). Now I can dig out my favorite seed starting materials and seeds while I work on that rusty metal shelf. You know, just in case I need more space.