Pallet projects are quickly becoming a favorite pastime for crafters, and one of the most productive ways to put them to good use is another popular pastime: gardening. Pallets are a conscientious way to get durable hardwood for nothing, or next to, and often with doing very little to them, just adding a bit of imagination, they make perfect garden additions.
However, before getting too far into a pallet project, especially one growing organic food, it’s important to make sure the pallets are safe. Many are treated with chemicals to help them resist rot and insect infestation, and while that might work well for shipping companies, it hardly fits a gardener’s mold of good ideas. Look for pallets with HT stamped into the logo, signifying it has been heat treated rather than chemically treated (MB equates to Methyl Bromide, aka not good for the garden), and watch out for pallets that have had petroleum or other chemicals spilled on them.
Once the pallets are there; however, there is plenty of work to be done and a lot of potential for making a really nifty garden with plenty of growing space and some super cool features.
The Vertical Pallet Planter
Vertical gardening is an efficient means of making more of small spaces. Rather than only settling for the square footage available horizontally, building garden beds that climb walls or are suspended can multiply the amount of growing space available. To make a vertical pallet garden, stand the pallet on end with slats running horizontally. Using landscaping fabric or burlap, create pockets between slats by stapling the fabric to them. Fill the pockets with a quality potting mix and fill it with lettuces and culinary herbs.
The Horizontal Pallet Planter
In this case, pallets make for an attractive way to install a raised pallet bed. Stack them flat on the ground, varying heights works aesthetically, then fill the stacks with good potting soil or topsoil. The spaces between pallet slats make for nice neat rows to plant in, and the slats themselves works like mulch, protecting the soil from over exposure to the sun. Raising garden beds also helps to keep plants away from malicious insects and allows the soil to drain well when necessary.
The Pallet Potting Table
This idea, creating a quirky little pallet table for potting, doesn’t require a lot of carpentry skills, but a few cuts and some drilling (or hammering) will be necessary. First, cut out a section of the pallet for the tabletop, about 18 to 24 inches, then cut out the base/storage shelf, around 12 to 18 inches. Fill in any large gaps in the tabletop with extra slats, and connect the two pieces of pallet using the remaining pieces of wood as legs (from the corners of the base to the corners of the top). Raised the bottom off the ground, leveling the table using stones or bricks or scraps of wood. Then, get yourself some potting mix and get to gardening.
The Pallet Compost Bin
Because pallets are built to be tough, to withstand the pressure of weight and survive different types of weather, they serve pretty well as the sides and ceiling of compost bins. Flatten the ground where the compost bin is to be. Stand the pallets on end, creating the four sides of a box (it’s probably best not to be in the middle), and then tie the pallets together at the corners with bailing wire or rope. A fifth pallet can be covered with old carpet, burlap or recycled plastic to go on top as a lid. Check out this YouTube video to see it in action.
The Pallet Pathway
Saving the easiest for last, pallets can make for very attractive and useful garden pathways. When creating and cultivating garden beds, it’s important not to step on them in order to avoid compacting the soil, something that inhibits young roots from reaching their full potential. To help with this, remove the slats from a pallet, and seal them using a natural finish, such as tung, linseed or hemp oil. Lay them out as attractive walking paths through garden beds. It’s a good idea to design pathways in such a way that the beds can be harvested without ever having to step on the soil.
Pallets are great resources for creative types, and gardens are wonderful for folks who like to eat. Put pallets and gardens together with a little creativity and pleasing results are easy to come by. Have fun with these projects and be sure to check out some more fun upcycling projects for the garden: 5 (or More) Ways You Can Reuse Food Packaging in Your Garden, 5 Types of Greenhouses You Can Build Out of Recycled Materials, and How to Make Cool Planters from Recycled Materials.
Lead image source: Carl Stewart/Shutterstock