DIY Hanging Plant Shelves

I’m super excited to share this little DIY project with you! Shawn and I created it over the weekend and it’s a vision I’ve had for some time. I love the outdoors and wanted to bring elements of that inside. Our dining room, which gets lots of indirect light, is open to the living room and thus, the perfect place to do something with plants.

Inspiration came from other hanging chain shelves I’d seen (here) and knowing I could easily make something similar (better suited to my needs) and fill with little potted plants. So I set out to create a shelving unit that hung from the wall and had three sets of chains running along the backside, and another set of three chains along the front, giving the whole thing a very industrial look.

Here’s a nice, messy “before” picture:

Sadly, I did not take step-by-step photos of the process, so I will do my best to explain what I did. It was actually very simple.

Materials I used:

  • Three pine 2x4s cut to length at Home Depot and left unfinished (these are 109 inches long)
  • Six chains cut to length at Home Depot (they are all 45″ long)
  • Three wood screw hooks
  • Eighteen hex wood screws
  • Eighteen washers
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Socket wrench
  • Pen/pencil/marker
  • Ruler

How I did it:

I used our handy little stud finder to find the studs in the wall. Since I wanted the shelving to span the entire wall, I decided to drill into 3 studs to better distribute the weight. Once the studs were located I marked where I wanted the hooks, and took measurements for the length and height of both the boards and the chains. Then it was off to Home Depot with my fancy sketch in-hand for supplies. Thanks to their friendly staff I was able to easily locate all of my materials and get everything cut to length. I opted to go with inexpensive pine 2x4s because we have limited space between the wall and the dining table. I also really like the look of the thick, chunky, unfinished wood.

For the chains, I just picked what I thought looked nice in terms of shape and size. It was sold in bulk, so I had an employee cut six 45-inch sections for me. I also consulted an employee for the hardware I needed to ensure that the hooks and screws I got would be strong enough to support the weight. I could just envision getting this entire thing built and set up only to have it all come crashing down without the right structural support. For reference, we estimate that it’s about 130lbs.

With all of my newly purchased goodies, it was time to build. First, I marked and drilled my holes for the hooks. I made sure to get hooks that had a long thread so I could really secure them into the studs. Then I hung 3 of the 6 chains up so I could measure where the boards would sit, and marked the corresponding link with a marker. I also had Shawn hold one of the boards up against the chains so I could visually center it and mark on the board where I needed to drill holes. With one board marked, I could line up the other two and mark those in the same spot.

Next it was time to drill all the holes. The hex wood screws I purchased were short enough that they wouldn’t meet each other in the middle of the board, but long enough to provide ample support. So, for each board, I drilled 6 small holes; 3 on each side of the board that measured 2 inches. Then, I attached all of the chains using the hex wood screws and washers using my pre-drilled holes (this part was done on the ground so the final product could easily be hung).

At this point, my fellow nerds are probably saying “but Sara, how did you account for the loss of length created by the angle on the front set of chains?” Initially, I thought I had to account for that angle, and that the chain that butts up against the wall would be slightly shorter, but when you’re dealing with a 4-inch shelf, the length difference is negligible enough that I was able to use chains of equal length. If you were to want wider shelves, you’d have to do some math.

Once the chains were all attached to the 2x4s, it was time to get it upon the wall (again, Shawn used his muscles here to help carry and hoist) to see how bad at measuring I am.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did have to re-drill all of the holes for the set of chains in the middle because I measured once, drilled once. Remember kids: measure twice, drill/cut/whatever once. Easy fix though, and the whole thing was surprisingly simple to assemble.

For the potted plants, I hit up a few local Goodwill stores and bought anything in white or silver that I felt I could hold dirt and leaves for a nice, eclectic mix. The plants are all indoor plants purchased at either Lowes or Home Depot. If even 50% of them survive my care, there will be cause for celebration.

Here’s the price breakdown:

  • Total cost for building materials: $48
  • Total cost for planters: $60
  • Total cost for plants: Let’s not talk about it

Here are some pictures of the finished product, and I hope you enjoyed my little DIY project! Next time I build something, I’ll take pictures of the process… like a real photographer would.

SaraJune 16, 2015 - 10:10 am

Hi Hannah! I started with a variety of indoor plants, but have learned I’m really only successful with certain ones. After killing off a lot of plants here are the ones I find are tolerant of my not-so-green-thumb:

* Snake Plant – very very tolerant of neglect and looks cool!
* Philodendron – a nice leafy plant that has climbing vines
* Zeezee Plant – another one tolerant of neglect
* Spider Plant – easy to grow and easy to root new ones
* Arrowhead Vine – another climbing/vine plant that looks nice
* Pothos – Another leafy vine

The area where my shelving is gets quite a bit of indirect sunlight, so while some of these are more tolerant of low light, they all thrive in the bright indirect light. I water them about once a week (if I remember), but they will start to look a little droopy if they’re thirsty, so that serves as a good indicator for me.

Hope this helps and good luck!

HannahJune 13, 2015 - 8:08 pm

What types of plants do you have on your shelves? I am thinking of doing something like this but I am not a plant expert and don’t know where to start plant wise.

CorinneJune 10, 2013 - 2:53 pm

I love this, it looks so awesome! Serious high fives if you keep those plants alive. I’m amazed at people who have green thumbs, but I want this on my wall!

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