Pretty! Make the most of your vertical space! For us veggie gardeners, best plants are dwarf or bush varieties of vegetables and herbs, compact fruits like strawberries, patio/container types or determinate tomatoes! Plants that produce many fruits or flowers per plant are ideal. Little flowers get planted tight and snuggly. Veggies need more room between, access to more soil, to grow bigger and fruit well.
Sam West’s flower Pallet Garden in Sydney Australia
Where will your pallet live? Be sure balconies are safe for the wet weight and your neighbors won’t be bothered by your dripping! If you are a renter be sure it’s allowed, or that your owner association approves. All the better at your small community garden space! Free Standing can go anywhere! Put some feet on it. Make an L shape that supports 2 or more pallets zig zag style.
WHY Pallet Garden?!
Space saver if used vertically, more production per space available
Avoids soil diseases
Schools, apt dwellers with only a balcony, everyday gardeners with limited budgets and/or space can grow pallet gardens!
No expensive lumber costs because pallets are usually free!
On-the-ground version saves water, keeps plants moist, protects roots, holds soil in place.
There are start up costs. Sometimes the pallet. Landscaping cloth, staple gun/staples, maybe other tools. The best potting mixes and plants.
Maintenance can be intensive. Watering, replacing soil, feeding dense plantings. Deadheading, clean up, plant replacement to keep it filled and fresh looking.
Flowers or Veggies, vertical pallets need a little organization!
Joe Lamp’l’s Garden Pallet at Mother Earth Living
Tall plants on top.
Vining types like lemon cucumbers, mini melons, at the bottom! If you aren’t doing veggies, put sprawling crawling creeper ground cover types at the bottom.
Choose it to use it! Upcycle! HT, Heat Treated (not chemical,) pallets are the ones you want.
Pallets come in different sizes, weights and variable construction! They can be rectangular or square, long and narrow, small or large.
If you get your pallet from a company, ask if it is ok to take it. Some pay a deposit and can only get it back when the pallet is returned. Check out your local recycling center, organic garden supply, Craig’s list.
If you will be growing edibles, fruits, veggies and herbs, be sure your pallet is food friendly. What was it used for? Is it imported? Chemical treatments to avoid bacteria and molds, prevent insects and fungi, aren’t good. Pallets made of wood dust and composite wood block contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen. Avoid stained pallets. When in doubt, don’t!
Pathways with Purpose! This size, long skinny pallets with wide spacing, are great for pathways with a worm farm underneath! Next season you can plant directly in the space that was previously your walkway or move the rich soil where you want it and do another path where you will plant next! Great for muddy terrain. If deeper mud, just lay pallets on pallets to get the height you want!
Chris Cano’s Worm Walkway in Gainesville FL
Vertical gives more space! Safe from bunnies but easy munchies for deer! Secure your vertical pallets so a strong wind won’t down them. Add T feet. In the ground use star pickets or strong stakes. Zip tie to your balcony.
bSq Design manages & revitalizes the life cycle of humble pallets!
Successful Pallet Garden Veggie Varieties!
Determinate Tomatoes: Celebrity, Fresh Salsa, SuperTasty, Tiny Tim, Small Fry, Patio Hybrid and Toy Boy are all great selections!
Peppers: Sweet Heat, Great Stuff, or Baby Belle. Candlelight hot peppers
Eggplant with smaller fruits, Okra
Bush beans or peas
Lettuce mix: Healing Hands, Alfresco, or City Garden Mix. Spinach.
Herbs: Red Rubin or Genovese basil, sage, spearmint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and cilantro
Summer squash: Saffron or Dwarf Summer Crookneck, bush varieties
Cucumbers: Bush Champio, Salad Bush, or Spacemaster
Watermelons: Bush Sugar Baby or Golden Midget. Any mini melons.
And, of course, it can be lovely to mix your favorite veggies, herbs and flowers! Dwarf nasturtiums at the bottom?
A big thank you to Growing a Greener World’s Joe Lamp’l for a lot of these suggestions!
Herb Garden! Of all the pallet herb gardens I like this one the best. It looks good. It has a dual purpose. Behind it is a bug proof curtained patio sleeping/reading area. Imagine a summer afternoon gentle breeze, the heavenly scents….while you are snoozing. It is conveniently placed right outside the doorway to the kitchen area. It is attractive enough it could be indoors in a well lighted area.
The tall herbs are to the top. There is a goodly variety of herbs ~ basil, parsley, rosemary, dill, oregano, thyme, peppermint, chocolate mint, spearmint, tarragon, lavender, plus another type of spicy globe basil. Boards have been removed so they all have room to grow well. The garden has sturdy feet. This page DIYshowOff.com has the tutorial.
The standing, movable A-Frame! Some pallets are smaller, more lightly planted, less heavy, easier to move. Don’t water right before moving!
The ultimate space saver, the Wall or hang them on your fence! If you are growing veggies, be sure they are conveniently reachable for tending and harvesting! They are great snuggled on the end walls of balconies or against balcony dividers between apartments for more privacy!
Let’s Plant These Babies!
Get out your gloves! Nail bites and splinters are no fun. Hose down your pallet, maybe give it a scrub, with bleach to kill cooties or if you would like it a bit lighter color. Let it dry. Make any needed repairs, hammer nails down flush. Sandpaper where/if needed.
6 to 8 hours are enough, but veggies do best in full sun! Make your pallet garden very near or at where it will live. They are heavy, especially when laden with wet soil!
Choose your method! There are many online tutorials, so enjoy yourself, gather up ideas from experienced aficionados!
- Make pockets out of landscape fabric. That leaves space for air flow between rows.
- Cover the pallet back with single or doubled landscaping fabric or shade cloth. Leave a longer length at the bottom so you can fold it up around the bottom like wrapping a present ~ to keep the soil from falling out the bottom. Staple the fabric to any place it touches wood to keep the soil where you want it. Plant tight to hold the soil in place.
- Some don’t trust staples and fabric, so nail plywood on the back.
- If you are planting veggies, you need more space between plants, won’t be planting tight to hold soil. You could use a second pallet for parts, and build wooden pockets that won’t fail and allow air flow! Drill drain holes in the bottom pieces.
- If you are doing a lay-on-the-ground pallet garden, staple landscape cloth around the sides to hold the soil in. Lay it down, fill it with your soil and plant!
Choose the very best organic potting mix enriched with tasty nutrients and that has good water holding capacity. Super ones oriented to container gardens will do the job!
If you made pockets, stand up your pallet and plant away. Otherwise, the easy way to plant is just lay the pallet on the ground and plant into it as usual. Fill it with premoistened potting soil, install your plants. Starting at the bottom, lift and shake a bit at each layer to settle the soil. Make sure soil is firmly packed as you move up. Fill in spots that settle.
Get out your staple gun again, and staple landscape fabric over the top of the pallet. This lets you fill the pallet completely with soil. It keeps the soil from falling out each time you water, and prevents weeds from growing around the plants in the top section of the pallet garden. Cut X holes where you will plant the top plants and plant them.
If you aren’t using pockets, leave your planted pallet laying on the ground for three or four days. 2 to 3 weeks is much better though, to let the plants get established and hold the soil in place. Depends on you, your plants, your pallet, space available and patience!
Carefully and slowly, gently water so soil doesn’t wash away. Add more soil where there is settling or roots get uncovered.
You can run a drip system through the planter if you like, especially if you planted densely. Water won’t get from the top to the bottom of a densely planted pallet. You can put the drip in at anytime, but it’s easier before you plant. Just drill holes in the side and run your line through side to side. One way or the other, water thoroughly. Check the bottom rows to be sure they are moist.
Water as needed. If you planted densely to prevent soil loss, there are a LOT of thirsty roots all packed together. Water frequently. And all those roots are hungry! Feed them regularly with liquid fertilizer, right? But not so much they grow crazy! You will learn the right amounts for your particular plants, soil and location from experience.
Paint ‘em or stain ‘em! This Pocket Pallet Garden of Strawberries is attractively stained and vertical. It is not needing to be tightly planted because the soil is safely held in the pockets! Each plant has plenty of soil. If you need more plants/berries, bind two pallets back to back, plant both sides, double your production! Place lenthwise north to south so each side gets plenty of sun. Feed lightly about once a week during production.
Lay-down pallets! Rather than going vertical, many gardeners lay their pallets right on the ground! Strawberries and lettuce worked best for this gardener! And strawberries and lettuce are great companions! The boards act as mulch, keep the soil moist and protect the roots from losing their surrounding soil. There’s less weeding! When you are done at that location, pick up your pallet, give it a shake and move on! Start again with new vibrant soil! Make a strawberry pallet planter, or chard, or lettuce or mix them all up together! Spring is good to plant your berries, or in SoCal, the first week of November bareroot!
Love carrots?! They are not good in vertical gardens, but great in lay-down versions! Make a frame the size of your pallet, and lay your pallet on top of that! Then your root vegetables will have plenty of space to grow deep.
Mavis Butterfield loves her pallet gardens and they love her!
Save-your-back raised bed pallet! Ideal for growing gourmet mesclun mixes to mow and munch!
Make a statement, tell a story! Leaning learning pallets! This one features bee friendly plants!
Pallet gardens are as beautiful and variable as the creativity of the Gardener! Pallets can be used as privacy walls, to create patio enclosures, as windbreaks, fences, borders, dividers, compost enclosures, garden furniture, a potting bench, tool rack/holder, to build structures like sheds, greenhouses, decks, outdoor rooms! They enhance the art of gardening and can be garden art!
This beautiful pallet garden was at the 2012 Canada Blooms National Home Show!
bSq Design manages & revitalizes the life cycle of humble pallets!