After transporting goods from one place to another, wooden pallets are often left lying around without a use. This makes them the perfect material for DIY projects, such as a vertical planter. Pallets make great gardens because they can be hung on the wall to save space, making them suitable for small living quarters.
Before You Build
If you choose to plant herbs or vegetables that you plan to eat, you’ll need to make sure the pallet has been heat treated. You will know this by seeing “HT” somewhere on the pallet. Otherwise, when you are looking for a pallet, just make sure it doesn’t have any broken wood, loose boards, bad smells or oily stains. If you find any nails sticking out in a way that can scratch you, remove them with pliers. Take your sandpaper and smooth out any jagged or coarse edges in the wood and make sure there are no lose boards.
Constructing the Garden
Step 1 - When your wooden pallet is ready to use, the first thing you need to do is cut landscaping fabric to wrap around the pallet. (Depending on how your pallet is constructed, you may be able to completely skip this step). Roll out your landscaping fabric and lay the wooden pallet on top of it. This will help you cut the right size. You’ll be wrapping the fabric around the side of the pallet too, so give yourself about 3 or 4 inches of extra fabric for stapling. You will also need to cover one end of the pallet, which will become the bottom. After you have determined the size of fabric to cut, take your pallet off the fabric and cut two pieces the same size.
Step 2 - Now you are ready to staple the fabric to the pallet. Place your two pieces of fabric together and fold one edge over so it has a nice folded seam. This is going to go along the top of your pallet. Make sure you center the fabric on the pallet so that it can wrap around the left and right sides. Staple the fabric in place along the top edge of the pallet first, along what will be considered the back side of your pallet. Make sure to pull your fabric tight to the left and right sides as you staple.
Step 3 - Smooth the fabric all over the back of the pallet. Repeat the stapling along the bottom. Do not fold the fabric at the bottom; you want all the extra fabric to hang down below the pallet. Tightly pull the fabric hanging below the pallet to the front. The fabric is going to come right to the edge of the front of the pallet. It will not wrap to the front, but stop right at the corner where the front meets the bottom edge. Fold the fabric so that it has a nice edge, and staple it right to that front bottom edge in the center. Make sure to pull the fabric tightly as you staple from the center out to each side.
Step 4 - Repeat steps 2 through 3 on the sides of the pallet as well, making sure to fold the fabric where it will be stapled at the front edge of the pallet. Essentially, this is like wrapping a box or a present, without covering the very front of the pallet. Make sure to put plenty of staples in the fabric, about every 1 or 2 inches.
Step 5 - You can now start your planting, so make sure you take the pallet near the place you want it to stay permanently. Lay the wooden pallet on the fabric side and get your plants ready by taking them out of their temporary containers. Keep as much of the dirt around the roots as possible. Take the plants that you want on the top row of the pallet garden and plant them very tightly into the top so that they can’t fall out or move around. Start filling in the rest of your pallet with potting soil through the front holes. Spread it evenly throughout the pallet.
Step 6 - Push some of the soil into the bottom space of the pallet, digging out the middle of the dirt like a ditch and then placing your bottom plants into those bottom spaces of the pallet. Pack your plants in tightly making sure they are pressed well into the soil.
Step 7 - With the rest of your plants, you want to do nearly the same thing. Plant them tightly in the spaces of the pallet. Your end result is to have the plants packed so tightly into the spaces that no soil can fall out once you lift the pallet up. You aren’t going to pick the pallet up just yet, though. For the first two weeks, you need to leave the pallet on its back side just as it is when planting. Water your plants as they need it. This will help the plants roots take hold to the soil.
Step 8 - After a couple weeks have passed, pick up your pallet and place it upright in its final growing place. A small amount of soil might fall out, but that should not harm your plants. Make sure to keep a good eye on your plants for watering needs. Mix in some plant fertilizer with your water and your plants will live longer.