If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of outdoor space, a pallet garden is an easy, inexpensive way to start a herb and vegetable garden.
You will need:
- 1 pallet (HT stamped, see instructions)
- Hand/electric saw
- Staple gun
- Landscape fabric
- Plastic wrap
- Craft knife
- Potting mix
If you are making it self-watering:
- 3.4″(h)X15.5″(w)x4″(d) container (or the closest size you can find)
- Around a metre of 1/4″ PVC pipe
- Rope made of natural fibres (something that will soak up water)
Here are all of the steps to do this project yourself!
Step 1: Finding the right pallet
I was given this pallet by someone who had no use for it, finding pallets can be a fun adventure! The only thing you need to make sure is that it is food safe if you plan on planting any herbs or veg. All pallets are stamped and you are looking for one that has a “HT” stamp.
This means that the wood was heat treated, and not treated with chemicals. It would not be safe to use a chemical treated pallet (MB) as there is a chance the chemicals could leach into the plants. More info on this here.
Step 2: Cut it to size and wash the pallet to get rid of any dirt
If you’re really tight on space, a standard size pallet can be halved (which I did) using a hand saw. It’s easy enough, just be careful and make sure you get rid of any nails that may get left sticking out.
To wash the pallet I used a food safe, non-bleach, antibacterial spray and washed it all down with some water and a sponge.
Step 3: Using a staple gun, line the interior (on the side with the most slats) with landscape fabric. I would double this up at the very least, in hindsight, I could have used four layers of this here as it is very thin and easily torn.
Note: Steps 4-7 are optional should you want to make your pallet self-watering. If you wish to water it normally, skip to step 8.
Step 4: Find a reservoir container that will fit in the very bottom of the pallet. I searched high and low for something with the right dimensions ( 3.4″X15.5″x4″) but couldn’t find anything wide enough! I ended up using an old ice cream container.
Step 5: I then drilled a hole big enough for a standard 1/4″ PVC pipe in the last slat on the back of the pallet (see picture below) and lined up the container and cut another hole in the same place. This is for the over flow pipe so I know when the reservoir is full and the excess has somewhere to go.
Step 6: Cut the rope to just a bit longer than the length of the pallet and run it along the inside with the ends going into the reservoir container.
Step 7: Find some wood the correct length that will cover the reservoir (I used one of the slats from the half I cut off) and run the rope through them. You should also drill a few extra holes for drainage. This also helps reinforce the bottom as there will be a lot of soil going on top.
At this stage I also added an intake pipe by cutting a hole in this piece of wood and running it down into the container. This allows for water to be added from the top of the pallet.
Step 8: If not installing a self-watering system, use one of the slats and nail it to the bottom of the pallet to help reinforce. There will be a lot of soil going in so this will help avoid any leaks or breaks! Drill some holes in this slat too for drainage.
Step 9: Line the back including underneath the pallet with the landscape fabric and staple gun it in place. As with the first step it is a good idea to at least double up on the fabric. Leave the top open.
Step 10: Get some heavy plastic (I used heavy refuse sacks) and wrap a layer around the back and underneath the same way you did the landscape fabric. Again, leave the top open.
Step 11: Bracing
I decided to add the left over slats to the back of the pallet and some legs as the soil was being held in only by some plastic and fabric. I also added some legs for stability so it wouldn’t topple over.
Step 12: Adding soil and plants
Now it’s time to add the soil, fill to the top with any good potting soil and use a bamboo stick to help it into the gaps on the side as you go along.
Then get some plants, I had been growing some veggies from seed in a mini greenhouse from IKEA which has worked great!
When planting, cut an X in the landscape fabric where you want to plant. Remove any soil from the rootball of the plant by spraying it with water to help you get it in.
I also added some herbs that I had in the kitchen. Here is what it looked like when it was first planted:
I also added a “polytunnel” to begin with as some of my vegies were still quite small and I wanted to give them some protection from the elements.
The self watering system worked great. I also added some water retaining crystals to the soil. Which means I only have had to add water to the planter around once a week.
Initially, I didnt add all my plants as I wanted to see how the first few got on, but 2 months later here is what it looks like!
I have the following planted in the pallet (working from top left to right):
- White Cabbage leaves
- Rhubarb Chard
This was a really fun project and it’s exciting to see how well all the plants are doing in such a small space.