Wooden pallets are probably the most versatile and sought after items when it comes to DIY projects such as building tables, wall hangings…you name it! One great way to use them is for pallet gardening!
You’d be surprised how beautiful your garden will turn out! In this article, I will share with you two of the most popular layouts for pallet gardening – the vertical garden and raised garden beds!
The most popular questions when it comes to obtaining wooden pallets is “Where can I get them?” and “How much do they cost?” I’m actually going to share with you where you can find them and how to get them for FREE!
How You Can Get Wooden Pallets For FREE!
The smaller the business, the easier it will be to get wooden pallets or other wood scraps for your projects. The reason is smaller businesses usually do not have the resources or volume to unload scrap wood to the “big haulers.” So, more often than not, the scraps end up in their dumpsters. My advice would be, if you see the wooden pallets in their dumpster and would like to take them, just ask. My guess is they will gladly let you take them – for FREE!
Two great resources online are Craigslist and Facebook.
On Craigslist, under the “for sale” section of their homepage there is a “free” tab. This is a great resource! You’d be surprised at the items people will give away! I have seen wooden pallets, empty moving boxes, older furniture, and building materials such as brick and scrap wood. Usually these items will be curbside pickup – you don’t even have to knock on anyone’s door. To be safe, it is always a good idea to read the ad thoroughly just to make sure.
Another great resource is Facebook. Many local areas have a Facebook community page where items can be found for sale, for trade, or for free! Also, on these local Facebook community pages, you can post asking if anyone has any free materials such as wooden pallets. It never hurts to ask because you just never know!
Now, onto the fun part!…
2 Great Layouts For Pallet Gardening
The Vertical Garden
Step 1 – Treating the pallet and lining it with landscape fabric
Before treating the wood with a wood preservative or wood paint suitable for outdoors, you should first sand it. Once that is complete, using a staple gun, cover the back, bottom, and sides of the pallet with a double thickness of landscape fabric.
Step 2 – Pack the pallet tightly with soil and plant upwards
The best way to do this is to start planting upwards from the bottom row and do a row at a time going up the pallet.
The soil should be firmly pushed into the available space and the plants should be packed tightly together. This allows the plant roots to grow, enabling them to hold the soil in place better for when you lift the pallet to display it vertically.
Step 3 – Keep your vertical garden well watered
Remember to water your vertical garden as they dry out quickly, especially at the bottom. You may fight it easier to lay it down flat to water but, you may find that some of the soil will trickle out by watering this way.
Raised Bed Garden
Step 1 – Decide what kind of raised bed you want to achieve
You can use the wooden pallets to make simple raised beds or you can also take the pallet apart to make a deep raised bed.
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to raise the bed too high with just one pallet, but it’s a good start. Raised bed gardening means you don’t need to bend down as much to tend to your plants. A raised bed also makes for great drainage for your plants.
Step 2 – Eliminate any weeds and close up the edges of the pallet
Ideally, you should start by eliminating weeds underneath where the raised garden bed will go. You’ll want to close up the edges of the pallet all around the narrow sides to prevent weeds from poking through. To do this, you can nail thin planks around the four edges or use strips of weed control fabric.
Step 3 – Lay the pallet on the ground and fill with compost
Plant it up through the slats and water thoroughly. Because you are raising the bed very little, this method will work best for shallow-rooted plants such as lettuce and strawberries.
Safety Tips When Gardening With Wooden Pallets:
- Wear heavy gardening gloves to protect your hands from splinters.
- Look for pallets that are stamped with “HT”. This means that the wood was heat treated as opposed to chemically treated. The heat treated wooden pallets are ideal for edible plants.
- Avoid using older wooden pallets as they can be contaminated. For example, if they get wet and sit in the elements for too long they can hold bacteria such as salmonella, e coli, and listeria.