Building a Pallet Garden

If you have a limited amount of space for gardening, or you are like me and you like to maximize the amount of garden space in your city yard, a pallet garden may be the answer for you!

The first thing you need is a pallet. You need to be careful when picking a pallet, especially if you are going to be growing food. I picked up a pallet from outside a grocery warehouse and made sure that the pallet had not been used for transporting some wicked chemicals. I then left it outside in the rain for a year.

Of course in hindsight I say that I left it out for that year so that it was thoroughly washed by the rain, but the reality is, I like to think about things for a long time before acting (I am brutal at procrastinating).

As well as the pallet you will need some landscape cloth. I bought the “20 year” strength stuff under the assumption that it is heavier cloth. You also need a stapler and staples to staple the cloth to the pallet.

I then rolled the cloth out to the approximate size of the pallet with enough on each end to double up for strength.

Then I stapled the fabric in place. I have to admit that I went pretty wild with the staples. I riddled the back of the pallet with staples. After all, the staples are what will hold the fabric in place when you fill it with soil. Some people add a piece of plywood to the back behind the landscape cloth to hold the cloth and soil in place. I have not yet done that but I may do so.   (Edit – I flopped the pallet garden down and added two 6″ wide pieces of plywood behind the landscape cloth to make it more solid.)I forgot to take pictures of me filling the pallet garden with soil but I will say that when it was about one third full of soil I tried to lift it (I was filling the pallet garden when it was laying flat on the ground).

Trying to move it was very difficult so I decided to get it into position before completing the fill process with the pallet standing up.

To fill the pallet garden I would dump a bag of composted mushroom manure on top of the pallet slats and then use my hands to “massage” the soil into place. Once it was standing I just slowly dumped the bags of soil into the top of the pallet.

It is important to leave the soil in place for a couple of days before planting the pallet garden. Leaving it for a couple of days will allow the soil to settle into place.

Some people choose to plant the pallet garden with potted plants. I didn’t have any at home today and I did not feel like driving to a garden store so I left it unplanted for now.

I may pick up some bedding plants tomorrow on my way home from work.

As you can see in the pictures, I have chosen a pallet with slats that are relatively close together. I can imagine that if you found a pallet with slats that are a little further apart it might be easier to fill with plants. My intention is to plant seeds in my pallet. To do so, I may try to lay it flat on the ground. My concern is that I will then need a support team to get it standing up again.

All together it took me less than an hour to flop the pallet down, roll out and cut the landscape cloth, staple it in place, fill the pallet garden with soil and then wash up the spilled soil. Adding bedding plants and seeds will take a little more time, but time in the garden is time well spent.

Anyway, I will add more photos once it is planted and has some green showing.

All in, I spent about an hour building the pallet garden and then 15 minutes jamming the radicchio plants and seeds into it.  

Here it is with a radicchio planted in the top row. I’ve seeded the other sLat openings with kale, spinach, seeds for a cool little ball-like carrots and some salad greens. As it greens up I’ll add more photos.