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Recycled Pallet Vertical Garden

by Kate Pruitt

Summer is waning, and since I am a diehard autumnal girl, I’d usually be very excited by now. But I have to be honest — this lush and vibrant pallet vertical garden is making me want to stay in summer for another month or two. There have been many pallet projects and many vertical garden projects, but none combine the two elements as well as this tutorial developed by Fern Richardson of Life on the Balcony and recreated by Steph of the local spoon. I like this so much, I might have to squeeze it in before I focus entirely on fall projects. — Kate

Have a DIY project you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)


There is nothing more adorable than little baby succulents. I happened to have a teeny porch desperately in need of love that didn’t get a lot of sun, so succulents were the perfect low-water, low-light choice. I also loved the idea of making something out of a pallet, one of those items you see everywhere — you have to wonder what happens to all of them, and I was excited to give one a purpose and home on my neglected porch. It transformed the space and was easy and lots of fun to make (the best part of all might have been my trip to the nursery where I could buy adorable baby succulents to my heart’s content). — Stephanie

Materials

  • a pallet (I found mine for free at a local garden store — mine measured 25 x 38 inches)
  • roll of landscaping paper (this can be quite expensive, but you don’t need as much as comes in a typical landscaping roll, so you might be able to find someone’s excess on Craigslist or at a local garden shop)
  • sandpaper
  • staple gun and staples
  • hammer and nails
  • potting soil (I used 2.5 cubic feet for the 25 x 38 pallet)
  • adorable succulents or other plants of choice

Instructions

1. Sand down any rough spots on your pallet. If the back of your pallet doesn’t have much support (mine was basically open on the back), find some scrap wood, roughly 3 to 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick (or the thickness of the rest of your supports) and cut it down to the width of your pallet. Using two nails on each side, add supports so they are roughly even down the back of your pallet.

2. Double or triple up your landscaping fabric and begin the stapling fun. Staple fabric along the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, taking care at the corners to fold in the fabric so no soil will spill out. (See photos for details on folding corners.)

3. Lay the pallet flat and pour potting soil through slats, pressing soil down firmly. Leave enough room to begin planting your succulents.

4. Begin planting, starting at the bottom of the pallet and ending at the top. Make sure soil is firmly packed in each layer as you move up. Add more soil as needed so that plants are tightly packed at the end.

5. Water your wall garden thoroughly and let it remain horizontal for 1 to 2 weeks to allow plants to take root. After 1 to 2 weeks, you can set it upright.

Note: Remember when you water to start at the top and water each subsequent section a little less, as your water will naturally seep through to the bottom-most plants.



Enjoy!

 

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Comments

  • I love vertical gardens. Is this an indoor garden? We live in a rental apartment, and was wondering if I can do it indoor. Thanks for sharing this!

  • I think it would work inside. The only thing you might ahve to worry about is having some sort of try at the bottom so that any of the water that comes out of the pallet doesn’t ruin your floors. I think I’ll start mine off inside for the fall/winter and move it outside during the spring/summer. Thanks for the great instructions!

  • This looks really cool, but doesn’t landscape paper biodegrade? So won’t the soil fall out the back after a while?

  • I am JUST putting the finishing touches on a pallet herb garden of my own. I was inspired by one similar to the one above that filled the entire pallet with soil. However, I decided to go a different route and instead created individual hanging pockets from the garden fabric to fill with soil. Doing it this way meant it did not require the 2 week wait time for the plants’ roots to take hold. It’s also considerably lighter. The below link is just to a photo album of some pictures I took during the construction. I will be updating it soon with some shots of the finished project.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/viper84/PalletGarden?authuser=0&feat=directlink

  • It amazes me how many uses there are for shipping pallets among the DIY crowd!
    BUT WARNING – I noticed in some of the comments that people were asking about planting edibles in their vertical garden. You have to be careful about this because some pallets are made with pressure-treated woods or treated after construction with chemical compounds to avoid insect infestation. These chemicals can leach into the soil and then be absorbed by the plants. Here’s a good overview of pallet considerations: http://www.improvisedlife.com/2010/10/05/the-scoop-on-safe-shipping-pallets-shipping-pallets-101/

  • this is incredible! i often look at pallets and marvel at their kind of spare beauty. i also walk around wishing I had more plants in my life. This just may be something I have to try. It would be so neat to try some yummy smelling herbs in there!

  • This is lovely. I’ve deconstructed pallets to make veggie beds before, but this takes a lots of the horrendous de-nailing out of the equation! I’d love to try it, maybe with some herbs.

  • @JO the pallet garden I am building is going to be for my herb garden. i dont know how well the herbs will hold the soil in this design, but in my modification, where the landscaping fabric is used to make troughs that hang from the slats, it works great. The plants get plenty of sun (from both sides) and there is minimal contact with the pallet’s potentially toxic wood. (see photo album below)

    https://picasaweb.google.com/viper84/PalletGarden?authuser=0&feat=directlink

  • This is beautiful and so simple! And a great use of a discarded pallet! Thanks for the post! I’m going to share this with a couple of my clients!

  • I just grabbed a pallet for this project! What kind of plants did you use? Looks like there are more than just succulents in there. Did you use perennials?

  • I love this. Any ideas to prevent mildew from growing on the wall you mount it on? Especially for an indoor situation. Maybe some blocking to create airflow between the pallet and wall? Also, does it work best to lay the pallet horizontally to water the lower sections? Since the soil appears flush with the pallet, I’m not visualizing how to get a watering can or hose into the lower sections while vertical without making a mess. Thanks!

  • This is fantastic!! I’m going to make one for strawberries and one for succulents. So glad you shared this great project. : )

  • I had another thought today as I daydreamed about putting this together. It could be easily trimmed out with some wood to frame it and hide the paper! Again, great idea!

  • I found an abandoned pallet that was dumped in a field near my house. I wanted to do something with it, but wasn’t sure what, so maybe I’ll have to try this out! Succulents also conveniently seem to be the only plants I don’t kill!

  • This is a really good idea. I have many pallets and usally make outside lawn funriture out of them, but I am going to do this for our camp because everyone loves herbs!

  • I am married to a carpenter, I also have a gap in the fence where he moved the gate, at present it is blocked up with a pellet, now I no what to do with the pellet, thank you for shearing your great ideas

  • Please don’t plant edibles in pallets. The National Consumers League conducted a test which found 10-50% contain pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and/or Enterobacter.

  • I am halfway done with my project, spent a lot of money on succulents and I can’t wait to get everything planted

    • Fern

      I’m traveling right now but I’ll send you some links to this project posted elsewhere far before we did it- this is an idea I’ve seen at garden shows for a few years now.

      I also saw it used at terrain outside Philly after last Year’s flower show.

      Grace

  • Fern

    I’m going to check with our DIY editor about this- I know ive personally seen this idea used since last year but if this author used your work without credit we will absolutely correct that ASAP. If that is indeed that case please accept my apologies in advance- I would never allow or condone that. I’m literally getting on a flight to Vancouver right now but I’ll text Kate to see if she can clarify this before we land.

    Grace

  • Sorry Fern! This is my oversight and I sincerely apologize. When I included a link to the original post on Stephanie’s blog, I didn’t catch the mention of your tutorial. As Grace said, we would never knowingly post a project that was directly reproduced from another—I’m very sorry that I didn’t realize this was the case here. When Grace hits solid ground again in Vancouver I will fill her in on my mistake. My apologies, Fern!

  • any more thoughts on how to do this indoors and hang it, while protecting the walls/floor? Love, love, love this.

  • Wow, c’est génial! J’ai hâte au printemps prochain pour faire ça chez moi.
    Merci pour cette belle idée.

  • I don’t have a green thumb at all and live in Portland OR, so when’s the best time for this project?

  • PERFEITO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ADOREI…FOI O MELHOR JARDIM SUSPENSO QUE VI…PARABÉNS..VOU TENTAR FAZER UM PRA MIM…SERÁ UM SUCESSO!!!!!!!!!!OBRIGADA…AAAHHHHH SOU A ETÉLIA DO RIO DE JANEIRO…UM GRANDE ABRAÇO…

  • Adorei a ideia, e aproveitando essa chuvinha vou começar a construir meu jardim também, pois no natal ele estara lindooooooo.obrigada bjs.

  • DO NOT USE PALLET GARDENS FOR FOOD PRODUCTION. Most pallet wood is treated with scary chemicals. Unless you know it’s only been heat treated, do not use for food production.

  • idéia maravilhosa, genial tudo reaproveitado, e minha parede vai ficar um show……adorei……..um amor depois de criadas as raizes, as que de galhinhos pendurados ficam lindas, obrigada adorei mesmo.

  • I love this, and think it’d be a brill way to bring interest into our blank courtyard garden. I wonder, would it work to plant it with cut-and-come-again lettuces, so it doubled as a vege garden? Don’t know how they’d fare. Think I’ll try in the spring, and post again then :-)

  • Have you ever tried the vertical garden from seeds? How would that work and what kind of plants would work best?
    thanks

  • Hello, this is a great tutorial, thank you!
    I wanted to ask though…did you secure it to the wall, or did it stay upright once you lifted it?

  • I have done this with vibrant annual flowers & greenery. It looks incredible outside, and the flowers have been attracting butterflies, which I love! I would not, however, bring it indoors, because some of the soil does run off when it is watered. This would be an absolute nightmare on carpet. Also, it would NOT NOT NOT be a good idea to grow anything in a pallet garden that you intend to EAT or use in COOKING because of the CHEMICALS the wood is treated with, as so many contributors have pointed out, yet people don’t seem to be paying attention. DO NOT USE FOR HERBS. IT COULD MAKE YOU VERY VERY SICK or WORSE!!!

  • Beautiful! I’m new to gardening – do you think this could be set up and attached to an outdoor wall in our backyard and left out during the winter – I mean, would anything return in the spring or would it have to be replanted or brought in out of the cold? Thank you for any advice!

  • I wonder if some plastic sheeting would do in place of the landscape fabric. It might not dry out as quickly, and would certainly be cheaper. I also have some spare plywood- wonder if I could cobble that onto the back. Any thoughts?

  • If you read the tutorial on the other website, you would have seen that you can get heat treated vs fumigated pallets. That’s why he recommended getting them from behind a grocery store for better luck in getting heat treated , that is, safe for edibles, pallets.Palnet.com said the following: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, European Union, Guatemala, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, and Turkey. Shipments from United States to Canada are exempt.

    When your shipments are treated properly and are in compliance, they will be allowed to display the IPPC certification symbol.

    This symbol will include:
    •A two letter ISO country code. For instance, AU for Australia or US for the United States.
    •The 000 portion of the symbol represents the unique certification number issued for AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) to the treatment provider or wood packaging manufacturer. Inclusion of this certification number ensures that the wood packaging material can be traced back to the treatment provider or manufacturer.
    •YY is the treatment abbreviation.
    •HT is the code for heat treatment to a minimum of 56 degrees Celsius for a minimum of 30 minutes.
    •MB is the code for methyl bromide fumigation.

    Inclusion of this symbol will make it easier for your shipments to move easily once they arrive at their destination.

    Hope this helps clear up the confusion! :)

  • Has anyone stored it over winter (with the plants in it–perennials) and brought it back out the following year? In a northern climate? any tips?

  • Dizem que a imaginação não tem limites e é bem verdade!!!
    Parabéns pela feliz ideia, e que a partir deste projeto, a criatividade de cada um dê lugar a novos jardins verticais.
    Sou do Porto, Portugal.

  • Oooohhhh I love love love this idea! I featured it as part of my top 5 reclaimed wood ideas on a post on my blog, you can have a peek at it here, plus 4 other very super creative ideas for recycling abandoned wood.

    http://www.jesuisunemonstre.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/five-fabulous-fings-on-friday-reclaimed.html

    Yippeeeeeee! I’m going over to Fern’s amazing blog now:

    http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-turn-a-pallet-into-a-garden/

    to check out her other ideas, as she is very super and has also turned a pallet into a garden (sorry Fern that I didn’t realise you had done this long ago!).

    Great work! Katie. xxx

  • Love the idea. As far as longevity, can you describe how long this typical garden lasts (indefinitely with regular maintenance?)?

  • what a great idea!!! i have a small balcony and have been trying to figure out a way to decorate it. How much run off do you have with this system? I am wondering if I need to have a tray or something at the bottom of the pallet to prevent the soil from clogging my drain on my balcony.

  • When I completed the first hanging garden I realized I did not have enough plants to keep the soil from falling out.My fear of adding more plant that it was going to overkill with too many (overgrown) plants. So I rebuilt the project with the slats on a 41 degree angle. I was able to use WAY less soil. It would not get washed out from a heavy rain plus I gained much more space for more plants.

  • hi! Just wondering if u have built a herb one and which herbs u used? as need to take into account how the herbs grow, exposure etc…. Unsure what to use!

  • Hi! it’s a nice idea, I will start to do my own pallet :)
    I have a question:
    I’d like hang the pallet on the wall, do you have an idea how to do it, is it too heavy?
    Many thanks

    • diana

      pallets can be pretty heavy depending on the size, but if it’s hung properly (ie: using studs in the wall and proper hardware) it should be fine :)

      if it’s a wooden or interior wall, use a stud finder to attach to those for maximum security. use hardware depending on your wall type (hollow, brick, plaster, etc.). for an exterior or brick wall, i’d suggest hiring someone to hang. i’ve tried that on my own and it was messy and tough. but if you have a proper drill bit you can definitely try it on your own, too ;)

      grace

  • I tried doing this last summer; however, once they were full of dirt I couldn’t stand them upright! So I grew plants in my pallets on the ground. Still looked cool, but defeated the purpose of minimizing the use of the space in my yard.

  • I made this last summer and will definitely be refilling and replanting it this spring. It’s such a simple and brilliant idea.

  • Absolutely going to do this for my flower bed. So easy to do and looks beautiful. Now to find some pallets for this and the bench I want to make. Happy Gardening everyone.

  • Do your homework on the difference between MT and HT if you are going to plant any vegtables. HT = good, MT = bad

  • Am looking for a design for using both sides of the pallet for planting. Is this even possible? Can anyone help?

  • Be sure to use untreated palettes for vegetable gardening and for growing anything to be eaten, like herbs.

  • 1) What kind of long, viney plant/succulent do you have at the top there?
    2) How does the water drain out, through the landscaping fabric? I just finished my planting my vertical succulent garden and I am worried about the water not draining after each time I water.

  • ow. thanks for your details DIY step-by-step way of this pallet vertical garden. so much helps. I’ll try

  • I am in the process of making two of these to top a couple of dog houses leading beneath our house. They were unsightly boxes which were catch-alls for garden tools, empty plant pots, etc. Now they will be beautiful additions to the landscape! This is such a cool idea!

  • i make these and sell them with herbs, salads or edible flowers in… they are the best… great idea…

        • Hello I am wondering How much would I sell a large pallet for filled with succulents. I have been building things but have no Idea how much to charge the plants alone are expensive especially if you have to start from scratch

  • We followed your instructions and LOVE the result over a year later. We have taken time-lapse photos of our succulent growth in this DIY project on our website. Thank you for such a well put together article!

      • This is such wonderful & cost effective. I love fresh herbs & other edibles. Thank you! I also love autmn. I can’t wait to see what you have in mind. ~Lynn

  • How beautiful. I am making one this weekend. How do I choose which plants/herbs/succulents/flowers will work in this environment?

  • I’m a little concerned that the pallet would be a little too heavy putting the compost & plants in before the fence is built I made a pallet fence with shelves for plants before the fence went into place

  • I love this idea. In checking yours and other sites on how to finish up this project, I find one bit of info missing: how do you support this so it stands up? I want to place 2 or 3 against my wooden fence. My hubby says the fence isn’t strong enough for that. Have you found a good way to make this be somewhat free standing, or some self contained support in the back

  • i think this is a wonderful idea and very interesting with the variety of colors and textures! how do these pallette ideas work inside? live in nyc and have no yard or balcony so want to create something for wall close to window! will it work?

    • You need to make sure the pallet is stamped with HT which means heat treated in a kiln and not chemically treated. That being said you still have no idea what was stored/carried on it so it is still best to scrub it down.

  • I really your choice of baby succulents – have you got any recommendations? What plants have you chosen here? Many thanks!

  • I have attempted to make one of these and ran into the problem of my dirt sliding to the bottom, any suggestions?

  • Hi! I love this idea and have made one myself from the instructions you have provided.

    I have a concern that the internal load of soil will be too much for the landscape fabric and the staples will bust out with soil spilling out the back.

    Has anyone encountered this problem?

  • Make separate “pockets” with the liner and staples.
    Less soil needed and weighs much less overall.
    Good luck!

  • Have you stapled down the centre back? I can imagine it would distribute the weight of soil. Also you mentioned in a post seperate pockets..Two vertical pockets or were you referring to horizontal pockets?

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