Why A Pallet Garden?
If you are short on space and have a limited budget, a pallet garden may be a great project for you. Shipping pallets can often be found for free, and with some time, patience, and materials a gardener may already have lying around, you can transform a shipping pallet into a unique expansion of your garden.
Other pallet tutorials show you how to complete a vertical pallet garden in two hours or less. This is not that tutorial. But I will take you step by step through the project and show you what I’ve learned, potential problems to look out for, and what I think will be good solutions so you can enjoy the pallet garden you’ve created for many seasons to come.
There are some things to consider that other tutorials don’t tell you, such as:
- Pallets are heavy. Loading, unloading, moving them while prepping, and moving them to the garden will require heavy lifting. Line up a helper and proper moving tools in advance.
- Pallets come in different shapes and sizes. Some are one sided, some have two sides, length and width may vary, etc. Know what size you’ll need in advance. One sided pallets may need to be reinforced at home.
- Get an untreated pallet. Pallets used for international shipping must be heat treated or chemically fumigated. If so, an “HT” or “MB” stamp should appear near an IPPC logo. Read here for all the details on what to look for.
- Pallets are nasty. That is to say they’ve worked hard and are full of splinters, mystery stains, rough and broken wood, protruding nails and all manner of booby traps. You’ll need to show them some TLC so they are safe when in the garden.
- Go to a small local retailer to find them, if you can. I started sourcing free pallets at a big box store, figuring they’d be swimming in them. Not only did I have to go through a chain of command to get approval to take one, there was talk of deposits, insurance, liability, etc. It was too hard and started to sound expensive. I left and went to my favorite local nursery, Nordic Nursery, and they were all too happy to let me have one. They even helped me load it in my car.
- Find a suitable location in advance in your garden that has the sun exposure you need and where you’ll be able to put in support for your planted pallet. More on that later.
- Untreated pallet
- Wire brush
- Weed cloth
- Staple gun
- Soil (approx two large bags)
- PVC pipe
- Pipe cutters
- Straw (optional)
- Fence stakes
- “L” brackets
Now that we have an idea of what we’re getting into and the tools we’ll need, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on how to prep your pallet. See you there!