Old wooden shipping pallets make gorgeous, rustic vertical gardens with room for plenty of plants in a small space. Even apartment dwellers with nothing more than a balcony can use this idea to grow edibles, beautiful annuals, or both.
Pallets need to be modified slightly before they can be used as planters, but they make an ideal base for small vertical gardens. If you have room, they can even be left laying flat on the ground to be used as convenient raised beds.
We found a nice video tutorial from Chef Janie showing how to make a pallet vertical garden suitable for propping up against the side of your house or shed. All you need to build this is the pallet, landscaping fabric, a staple gun, dirt, and your choice of plants.
Begin by doubling up the landscaping fabric and stapling it to the back of the pallet. The whole back of the pallet will need to be covered, as well as the bottom so the dirt doesn’t fall out when the pallet is upright. Staple the fabric on the sides and the back, wherever fabric meets wood, to help keep the dirt in place.
After the fabric is stapled down, flip the pallet onto its back and begin filling the slots with dirt. Leave the pallet flat on the ground for this step. You won’t need to fill the slots completely full of dirt since the plants and the dirt they are potted in will take up quite a bit of room.
Begin adding the plants of your choice. A variety of fruits, herbs, and leafy vegetables like lettuce and kale will work well. In this pallet garden, alternating rows of a variety of herbs and purple lobelia were used. This one pallet contains a total of 55 plants, so there is quite a bit of planting room in these slots.
Once all the rows are planted, it is recommended you leave the pallet flat to water it and let the plants get established for a couple of weeks before tipping it upright. After placing it vertically, you can plant flowers in the top as Janie does in the video. The result is a beautifully creative and efficient way to grow herbs and flowers.
Here are a few more examples of how pallets can be upcycled into vertical planters. They can even be hung on a fence or wall if you reduce the weight, as these demonstrate.
You can also make room for larger plants by removing some of the pallet boards to create bigger gaps for planting. This is a quick, simple way to grow garden plants in a yard where traditional planting is not an option.
Note: If you will be using your pallet to grow edibles, you’ll want to pay attention to how the pallet is treated. Shipping pallets are often treated with chemicals to keep them bug-free. Sometimes they are heat treated rather than chemically treated, so look for the heat-treated ones only for use when planting edibles. Heat-treated pallets are stamped with an HT symbol.
Be sure to check out this free-standing pallet herb garden we featured a while back for more DIY pallet planter inspiration!