How to Make a Recycled Pallet Vertical Garden

Yesterday in between snow flurries, sun, hail, snow, and more sun, I was able to use a few left over strawberry plants to create a wood pallet garden.  I first spotted this great idea at the Seattle Flower & Garden Show in February.

I asked the Handsome Husband if he could find me a couple of good clean pallets asap and he did.  He was able to bring home 2 pallets in great condition the very next day.

Here is how I made my wood pallet garden:
pallet 2

I started by wrapping the back and sides of the pallet with a double layer on landscape fabric.  Landscape fabric can be found this time of year at Costco or pretty much any home and garden store.  After cutting the landscape fabric, I then used an industrial stapler and stapled the fabric to the back and sides of the pallet {use a lot of staples}.

Here is what the back of the pallet looked like before I injected a ton of staples into the fabric.

potting soil

Next, I set the pallet fabric side down, and filled the openings with potting soil.

You’ll want to make sure you push the soil underneath the slats.

If you don’t, when it comes time to stand your pallet up, the soil will slide, and your plants will end up behind the slats.

Next add your plants.  I filled this one with strawberries, but I plan on filling my next pallet garden with an assortment of herbs.

pallet

Here is a picture of the pallet garden up close.  This strawberry garden is still in the ugly duckling stage, but in a few short months the strawberry plants will fill out and cover the exposed dirt.mavisHere is a picture of me with the inspiration for this project.

* I left my pallet on the ground for the time being.  I was afraid to stand it up at this point. I want the plants to have time to wrap their roots around the soil so the strawberry plants will be anchored in place.  In about a month when I stand the pallet upright, I will plant 6 more strawberry plants in the opening at the top of the pallet.  I’ll be sure and show you a photo when that happens.

So, what do you think?
Is a recycled pallet garden in your future?

Stanley SharpShooter Plus Heavy Duty Staple/Brad Nail Gun ~Amazon.com

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Comments

  1. gloria says

    I’m totally doing this, Mavis! I’m gonna drive the farm truck to work tomorrow and collect a few pallets. Our yard is very shady, so our garden takes up the one sunny, level spot. But, the side of our garage is in the sun and I could lean a few pallets up against it and have an amazing herb garden. Hooray! Thanks for the great idea.

  2. says

    You could hide the exposed soil with your abundant moss to Shade and keep the soil from coming out when you water. Then pull it out when the plants take off. Great idea Mavis! This would be super cute with flowers on my patio and I have a place around the corner with pallets. Hmm what would the husband think…

  3. says

    It’s such a brilliant use of space! However, I would worry about the chemicals in pallets that have been implicated in some recalls. Perhaps I’ll try to make the same thing out of some fresh pine scraps though!

    Great website and ideas!!

    • Mavis says

      You are right to be concerned about contaminated pallets. Luckily I know where this one had came from and what it was holding {and the pallet was untreated}. :)

      • says

        I’m glad you were able to find some untreated ones!! Yay! In my experience companies get credit to give them back to a shipper so the pallets can come and go lots of places so it could be hard to track their sources and what kinds of things could be applied to the pallets or sprayed on their contents. Do you have tips for tracking the sources of pallets to know their history to find untreated ones?? Thanks!!

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      Make sure you use only pallets with the letters HT which stands for Heat Treatment, which is used to kill any fungus or insects.
      Chemically treated pallets will be marked with MB, a highly toxic insecticide, banned in North America and European Union. Don’t use painted pallets, also used for transporting chemicals, usually for the pool industry.

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      Pallets in North America are usually stamped HT, which means it is heat treated instead of chemicals, they are no longer allowed to be treated this way here. HT means good for your plants.

  4. Layla says

    What an awesome idea! I live in Seattle…any chance on getting the scoop on where to get untreated pallets?!

    • Mavis says

      Look for a pallets with codes on them. You want to find a pallet with an HT stamped on it. HT means the pallet was heat treated and no chemicals were used to treat the pallet. :)

      • Kyle says

        Make sure everyone stays away from the ones marked BT! (How do you spell Bromine??) I also would pass on the ones that have no marking at all. I’m not saying these miscreant pallets have no use. Just not around fruits n veggies, or dinner tables….kids beds etc.

  5. Tali says

    I am super excited about this project. My garden area is in the ‘back’ back (which means that it is in the back of the farm area…not really far but not right out the door either), and so I am hoping to make those for strawberries and herbs….will it not be too heavy with all the soil? is there any other combination of soil and other light material?

    • Mavis says

      I think you just have to be careful when choosing your pallet. Some of them are really heavy and others super light. It must depend on the kind of wood they use.

      • Dieter Dittrich says

        Use the light ones stamped with HT for pallet gardens and the heavy one stamped HT for firewood in your rocket stove, or else , if the boards are in good shape you may want to take a reciprocating saw and cut the nails so you can use the wood for other projects.

  6. says

    I am a wanna be gardener. I am curious about the multitude of rabbits in my yard. If I hang the pallet, it should be safe right?

  7. Yuliya says

    I used an old cheep blanket and burlap fabric over it (for sturdiness) to hold the back of my pallet. I also used a layer of burlap on the front of my pallet (the inside front), so that the ground does not come out. Once the pallet is filled with soil (it’s easier to fill it without losing any soil, and spread the soil evenly) i just cut slits in burlap and inserted my plants. My plants are still small, so they dont cover all the ground and burlap is helping to hold it all in. Initially I had the pallet at about 40% angle to the ground, now it is almost upright (I added plants to the top of the pallet).

    Blanket: $2.50 – bought a few years back and used in between my dog and the car seat before the pallet (I used 1/2 blanket per pallet)

    Burlap: $10 at Lows. I still have a lot of it left over after I finished my pallet :)

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      Cardboard, cardboard, cardboard, it’s free, made with organic glue and turns into fertilizer. I will make a new prototype garden pallet this weekend and will post soon afterwards. Hardware and furniture stores have tons of cardboard, happy for someone to pick it up. Use it to create new garden space, covering soil to choke weeds.

  8. Hope says

    My father recently spent a TON of money making a special box with heavy wood, a pvc pipe watering system and lattice to make basically the same thing for my grandmother for her birthday. Im still waiting on mine, and while hes saving his pennies and finding an army of men to lift the thing to the wall where it hangs, im going to go “borrow” some of the pallets he has waiting for the fire pit and make my own!
    I do have a tad bit of OCD and things that arent lined up and centered tend to bother me, so this is PERFECTION in my mind. Thank you so much for making me slap myself in the forehead while saying DUH!!! Looking forward to making this!

  9. Stephanie O says

    I love this idea. I seen the idea last year at a substantialbilty fair. I was reading other post related to this post… how do you know if the pallett has been treated or if it is safe to use?
    shuttermom77 at gmail dot com

    • Mavis says

      Look for a pallets with codes on them. You want to find a pallet with an HT stamped on it. HT means the pallet was heat treated and no chemicals were used to treat the pallet. :) You’ll also need to make sure nothing toxic was stored on the pallet. Also check the white pages for a local company selling new pallets. If you are in the Tacoma area let me know and I can tell you the name of a local company selling them new.

  10. Elise says

    Hello Mavis- Thanks for inspiring me to do better and get better deals for the food I feed my family. Love this palett idea, but my handsome husband does not approve of anything that would lean up against the house, but my two garden boxes are on the west side of the house and back up to the outside of the garage. I would love to do something vertical there and I was thinking…I might be able to do two or three palletts by driving metal rods a foot or two into the ground, leaving plenty up top to hold the palletts in place…all a foot or so from the house! I’d still use the vertical space, make good use of all that sunlight AND not touch the house : ) Thanks for sharing that great idea…and living south of Portland, OR on a tree and blueberry farm is a convenient place to find palletts! There are lots and the neighboring farm piles them up to burn! I’ll be happy to rescue some of them for re-use. P.S. Mavis, how do I send a picture to you? I’d like to show you my successful garden from last year which I plan to expand.

    • Mavis says

      Hi Elise, you can send your photos to onehundreddollarsamonth @ gmail .com {spaces removed of course}. :)

    • Mavis says

      If you are local you can get clean pallets from Giard wood products in Puyallup, Wa. Otherwise you might want to try freecycle or craigslist.

      • Hope says

        Try asking around at local businesses in your area. We have the best luck at a car dealership near us. They give them to us for freee!!!!

        If you are planning to use them for food (i.e. a veggie garden) then make sure you check how the pallets were chemically treated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallets This site tells you what the codes stamped onto the pallets means.

        But if you plan on using them for just flowers and decoration, the chemicals they were treated with really wont affect it.

      • Dieter Dittrich says

        Pallets can be found at hardware stores, building supply stores, furniture stores, printing houses, grocery stores, etc.

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      Lumber yards, grocery stores, furniture stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Newspaper publishers, etc.

  11. says

    have an 8 ft pallet.. and am going to plant with hanging trailing Geranium, Nasturs, and a couple of other sun loving hanging type plants.. this weekend.. I bet in a week or two this should be ready to stand up on the Ballboy shop wall to greet our employees when they come to work!.. surrounded by colorful pots! Thanks for the great idea.. I knew I wanted to do something with this huge pallet. .just not on the ground.. thanks!

  12. Jenny says

    Do you think this would work for cucumbers and tomatoes <—– newbie gardener with little space

  13. Loren Miller says

    Hi I was wondering how do you overwinter he plants till next year we do get some cold spells from time to time and how often do you water them thanks. Loren

  14. Mimi says

    Hi, I followed all your instructions. Got a ton of pallets . Cover the back, filled with potting soil, etc,etc. I allowed the plants to take root and four weeks later tried to stand it and the soil fell out of the pallette with plants and all! Now it is lying in my backyard growing strawberries, in the horizontal!!!!
    I’m a very experience gardener, so can’t chuck it to inexperience.I will use my palettes for other projects, I even have one prepared, which I will not use on the vertical. Happy that it worked for u.

  15. Ginger says

    Love your pic of the herb pallet! I picked up some pallets today from the local feed store, and will begin to assemble them tomorrow for lettuces. I plan to staple burlap on the inside front and put the plants into x shaped holes. have any of you tried this?

  16. Marcia says

    I live on the second story of my building and was wondering the best way to handle watering my vertical pallet so that the overflow of water doesn’t rain down on my neighbors patio? I haven’t started yet, just have the pallet sitting there.
    Thanks,
    Marcia

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      I would water with a watering can rather than a hose, that way you can really guage how much water you need to keep your soil moist.

  17. Heather Carter says

    Hi Mavis! Love your blog here, such an inspiration! I have acquired several heat treated pallets and would like to use them exclusively for vertical gardening to utilize space (I have only a half acre and 9 kids- so I can only dedicate half my yard to gardening)- I was wondering about standing the pallets up first, allowing the soil to settle appropriately over a period of 2-3 weeks, then planting? I am looking to only plant herbs and spices my pallets and leave vegetables and fruits to my raised beds. I have a history of making about a million mistakes before “getting it right” and would rather “get it right” the first time- this time lol.

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      Your plan of letting the soil settle first sounds like a great idea. :) Good luck and send us some pictures if you get the chance. :)

  18. Micheal says

    Great site, been loving browsing through everything. I had one question. how do you water the vertical pallet garden? How do you get the water to all of the plants?

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      I will make a prototype this weekend to deal with watering, especially the bottom third. Will post soon afterwards. You can use a spade bit and drill a hole through each vertical member just behind third bottom board. Use a bit just a little larger than the pvc or abs pipe you want to use, you can even use regular black irrigation pipe, about 5/8″ or 3/4″ should suffice. drill 1/8″ holes along the interior section of pipe, add an elbow on either side outside the vertical members, add vertical pipe to just above pallet, add piece of larger fitting to act as funnel for filling. When filling one side, watch other side overflow and it should be good, it will trickle down through the bottom section of soil. Have fun.

  19. Pamela Tesarz says

    I am loving your site! Thank you so much for sharing!! I am what you would call a visual person so I love the photos and tutorials :)

  20. Belle says

    Found this and decided to try it in our back yard. I used old fabric instead of landscape fabric and planted onions since it will be beside our rose bushes. I’ll try and update to let you know how it came out!

  21. Evelyn says

    Hi, I love this idea. One you stood the pallet vertically, did you anchor it somehow so it doesn’t fall over? If so, how?

  22. Lisa says

    I am a 1st grade teacher and I am in charge of our school garden. I want to modify your idea. Do you think leaning 2 pallets together like an A frame would work? I thought it might be stable and we could work on both sides, as we don’t have a wall to attach to create the vertical garden . Thx for your input.
    Lisa

    • Dieter Dittrich says

      Problem with A frame is sun or lack of it on other side. Dismantle another not so good pallet and use some of the good boards to make legs at 45 degrees.

  23. Jennifer says

    Please advise on the purpose of the fabric. And can I use an old sheet? I can’t wait to start my garden 2moro!!!

    • Mavis says

      Landscape fabric keeps weeds and pests out. Not sure a sheet would do the trick or would be breathable enough. I’d go for the landscape fabric to be safe.

      • Dieter Dittrich says

        You can use cardboard. It’s free at most hardware stores, lawn mower boxes, barbecue boxes, bicycle boxes, etc. The cardboard keeps the dirt in until the plants have a big root system, then it starts to rot and provide your plants with fertilizer. Save the earth one grain at a time.

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