I need to be reminded of God’s benefits and blessings, early and often. He is so generous and His gifts are too numerous to count. If I am not careful in my daily life, I focus on the negative, the things I think I am missing, and the ways I think God has not delivered. The act of making a list of blessings shifts my focus to the positive, lifts my faith and brightens my mood.
In Psalm 103, David wrote these words:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits…”
Psalm 103:1-2 (NASB)
I have an inherited love for gardening, a passion I observed in my Dad’s Mom and my Mom’s Dad. Those two could grow anything. My Mom is an avid gardener and her new house was not home until her flowers began to sprout and bloom around her. I want to pass the love to my daughters. I want them to plant, tend, and grow. I want them to enjoy the beauty of the gardening world.
Michelle owns a townhome and the garden seed has sprouted inside her. She is ready to get her fingers in the dirt. On her sunny deck, floor space limits the number of containers she can plant. Sometimes to see blessings or potential blessings, we have to look up. We did. There is a privacy fence along the west side of her deck, just waiting for a gardener who can think outside the box and figure a way to hang plants on the wall.
We call our design The Hanging Gardens of Durham or perhaps Mi-shelves. I am sure there are commercial solutions available but we need to limit cash outlay and put the bucks into the plants, a true gardening goal. We didn’t use redwood, teak or cedar. Instead I designed the system around simple pressure treated pine fence pickets. The solution is:
2. Easy to build.
3. Makes use of readily available materials.
4. Aesthetically pleasing and matches the existing deck.
A garage shop and a healthy tool collection are blessings I count on a regular basis. For the Hanging Gardens we used the table saw, miter saw, hand drill, drill press, and trim gun. I won’t offer many woodworking details and suggest making a friend who can work with you, if your tool collection is sparse. I will share these important shop tips.
1. Use a push stick with the table saw.
2. Keep your fingers out of the rotating machinery to avoid pain and discomfort.
3. Protect your eyes.
The deck privacy fence was constructed of pickets spaced evenly and nailed to 2×4 cross members. Our design exploits the unused space inside the fence structure. One corner has an opening larger than the space between pickets. If we can build shelf standards and slide them into the void, we can install shelves at any locations along the fence. Here is an idea of the finished design. Each shelf will hold a pair of 6” pots. Of course, our new gardener will need to water the plants daily.
To build 3 sets of these magic hanging shelves I used:
- One 2×4
- Two 6” dog-eared fence boards
- Four 3.5” pickets
- 1 1/4” and 2” deck screws
We took measurements, then Michelle and I penciled some rough sketches of what we thought would work. I returned to the shop to make a prototype to test the idea. We made a few adjustments then I cut pieces for 3 shelf sets. I love playing with blocks.
Measure. Measure. Measure. I spaced 8 pencils around the shop before I started working and still found myself looking for pencils. I am not sure how they move or hide but those rascals are elusive.
All the wood was cut to length using the miter box making the job faster.
Since I was making identical cuts and drilling identical holes in many boards, I stacked the wood together and used the square to mark the boards at the same time. The holes and cuts are better aligned and assembly is easier.
The project could be done with a hand drill but Mr. Drill Press is friendly, easy to use, and loves to help. I included drain holes in the shelves.
The shelves were assembled using 1 1/4” deck screws.
Trim can be purchased but I ripped ours from a piece of 2×4 then used the trim gun to nail it down. We left a slight gap at the back so dirt can be brushed off the shelf without removing it.
The shelves are ready to be sealed with a coat of Thompson’s.
The shelf standards are basic boxes and I predrilled the top and bottom to prevent splitting. Assembly was done using 2” deck screws.
Three new boxes ready for cross members.
Cross members are 2×4 chunks. I ripped a long piece to the correct size then used the miter box to cut the lengths.
In part 2 of the article I will show the installation. Stay tuned.
Take time to count your blessings this week.