Two Methods to Build Your DIY Vertical Pallet Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide

May 15, 2023Resources & Inspiration, DIY

Introducing Pallet Gardens

Looking to achieve more green in your small space but worried about the budget? Don’t stress, a DIY vertical pallet garden may be the perfect solution for you.

This clever garden idea uses up-and-down space, changing an ordinary pallet into a blooming vertical garden, breathing life into dull walls or fences. It’s a great way to recycle and a fun DIY project for your weekend. No matter if you’re a gardening pro or a total beginner, we’re here to guide you through this vertical garden adventure.

This article will show you two different ways to create your own vertical pallet garden, step by step. No matter which way you choose, we’re sure you’ll love the result. So, ready to start this budget-friendly gardening project?

1. Planning Your Pallet Garden

Before you dive into creating your pallet garden, let’s take a moment to plan. A good plan can be the difference between a thriving vertical garden and one that just gets by.

First, think about what you want from your garden. Are you after a splash of colour, a handy herb garden, or a striking display of succulents? This will help you decide which plants to pick.

Next, consider where you’ll put your garden and how much sun that spot gets. Different plants need different amounts of sunlight, so this will help you narrow down your plant choices.

Will you attach your garden to a wall (and if so, is the wall suitable for brackets), or would you prefer it to be freestanding perhaps against a fence? If you have little ones around, remember that a standalone garden could be a risk if they try to pull it over.

Remember, the size of your plants will affect how you build your pallet garden. Bigger plants need more room between the slats than smaller ones, so you’ll need to remove some slats to give your plants the space they need to grow.

Here’s a vertical pallet garden for herbs that may spark your creative juices and help you decide how you may want your end product to look.

Vertical Pallet Herb Garden (1)

2. Choosing the Right Pallet for a Vertical Pallet Garden

Selecting a suitable pallet is a vital step in your vertical garden project. You need to find a pallet that’s sturdy, clean, and not falling apart. Don’t worry if a slat is broken (like the second one) because you’ll likely need to remove some slats anyway to give your plants enough space to grow.

It’s key to check if the pallet has been treated with chemicals. Some pallets may have harmful chemicals that could hurt your plants or even harm you.

Pallets that are heat-treated, usually marked with ‘HT’, are generally safe to use. Avoid pallets labelled with ‘MB’ though, as they’ve been treated with a dangerous pesticide called methyl bromide. If a pallet doesn’t have any markings, it’s best to be cautious as you can’t be sure that it has not been chemically treated.

Pallets that are dark grey or have a slight green colour are more likely to be chemically treated. Those that are light brown wood are more likely to be safer.

We’d actually suggest you err on the side of caution if pallets are unmarked. Ideally, try to find alternative pallets that have been heat treated. If you do decide to proceed, make sure you are wearing safety gear (like goggles, a mask, long sleeves, and gloves) during the prep work and don’t use the pallet for food or herb plants.

Remember, pallets have been used to carry all kinds of things, including chemicals and food, all over the world. They could have been exposed to spills or pests, so it’s essential to ensure your pallet is clean before you start your project.

Heat Treated Pallets can be Upcycled for a Vertical Pallet Garden

2.1 How to Clean a Pallet for a Vertical Garden Project

Cleaning a pallet properly is an important step to ensure it’s safe and ready for your gardening project. Here’s a simple process to clean a pallet:

1. Inspection: First, inspect the pallet for any visible dirt, stains, mould, or pests. Also, check for any nails or splinters that could pose a risk during the cleaning process.

2. Brushing: Use a stiff brush to remove any loose dirt or debris from the pallet. If there are any hard-to-reach areas, consider using a screwdriver or a similar tool to get into those nooks and crannies.

3. Soapy Water: Prepare a mixture of warm water and mild detergent or soap. Using a scrub brush, thoroughly clean the pallet with this soapy solution. Pay attention to areas where dirt might have accumulated.

4. Rinse: Once you’ve scrubbed the entire pallet, rinse it thoroughly with clean water. You can use a garden hose for this. Ensure all soap is rinsed off.

5. Drying: Allow the pallet to dry completely before using it for your garden. You can leave it in a sunny area to speed up the drying process, but make sure it’s not left out in damp conditions.

6. Sanding: Once the pallet is dry, you might want to sand it down to remove any rough spots or potential splinters. This isn’t necessary for all pallets, but it can make the pallet safer to handle and more aesthetically pleasing.

7. Final Inspection: Do a final inspection to ensure the pallet is clean and safe to use. Now, it’s ready for your vertical pallet garden project!

Remember, it’s important to wear protective gloves and eyewear during the cleaning process to protect yourself from any potential splinters or chemicals. And as we mentioned above, ideally you would only be working with pallets that are heat treated.

3. Gathering Your Supplies

Now that we’ve sorted out our pallet, it’s time to gather the rest of the materials for our vertical garden project. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Potting mix: Choose a high-quality mix to provide your plants with the nutrients they need. You can purchase this from your local garden centre or online.
  • Plants: The quantity and type will depend on the design you’ve planned. Opt for a mix of your favourite herbs, succulents, or flowering plants.
  • Landscaping fabric or weed mat: This will be used in both methods to hold the soil and plants in place. You should aim to buy the heaviest duty mat possible so it will be less likely to tear with the weight of the soil and plants.
  • A staple gun and staples: You’ll use this to secure the landscaping fabric to the pallet.
  • Sandpaper: To smooth out any rough edges on the pallet after cleaning.
  • Safety gear: Don’t forget your gloves and safety glasses.
  • Drill: Needed for creating drainage holes in the second method.
  • Screws: For securing slats in the second method.
  • Stanley knife: For trimming excess weed mat in Method 2.
  • Paint/ brush/ roller: If you want to jazz up the look of your planter with some colour.

Once you’ve gathered all your supplies, it’s time to start constructing your vertical pallet garden!

4. Preparing Your Pallet

Preparation is key to ensuring that your pallet is ready for its transformation. Here are the steps:

  • Sanding: Start by sanding down the pallet. This step will smooth out any rough spots and potential splinters, making the pallet safer to handle and more aesthetically pleasing. It also prepares the surface if you decide to paint or stain your pallet garden later. Make sure you are wearing gloves (and ideally goggles) as there are bound to be splinters!
  • Strengthening: If your pallet seems a bit shaky, consider reinforcing it with some extra nails or screws. This will make it more robust and capable of supporting the weight of the plants and soil.
  • Positioning: Decide whether you want your garden to be freestanding or mounted on a wall. If it’s the latter, install any necessary brackets or supports on the pallet before you start planting.
  • Painting: If you want a painted finish, it’s a good idea to do this before adding weed cloth and soil. You’ll definitely find it much easier to paint when you can easily access all surfaces.

Your pallet is now ready to be transformed into a vertical garden! In the next sections, we’ll explore two different methods for constructing your garden: the Landscaping Fabric Pocket Method and the Pallet Planter Box Method.

5. Method 1: Landscaping Fabric Pocket Method

This approach involves creating pockets on the pallet using landscaping fabric or weed mat as it is often referred to in Australia. The fabric will hold your plants and soil. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Measure the Landscaping Fabric (Weed Mat): Turn the pallet over so the back is facing upwards (that’s the side of the pallet with the fewer slats). You’re going to secure landscaping fabric on each half attaching it to the centre slat. Measure double the length so you have enough excess fabric to form pockets which will be what holds the soil.

Allow 3-5 cms extra on each side so you have enough fabric to fold over and reinforce the edge. Use a staple gun to secure the fabric with staples. Fold over the edges for extra strength before stapling.

Step 2: Attach Landscaping Fabric to the Pallet: Using a staple gun, secure the fabric to the pallet, ensuring it’s taut across the width. Fold over the edges for extra strength before stapling.

Step 3: Create Pockets: Now, cut slits into the fabric between the horizontal slats on the front side of the pallet. These will act as pockets for your plants. Be careful not to cut them too big; you want the plants and soil to stay securely in place.

Step 4: Add Soil: Start adding potting mix into each pocket, filling them about halfway.

Step 5: Plant: Now, it’s time for the exciting part – planting! Insert your plants into each pocket, then add more soil around them to secure them in place. Remember to space them out according to their specific needs.

Step 6: Water and Wait: Give your plants a good watering. Let your pallet garden lie flat for 1-2 weeks. This allows the plants to take root and helps prevent soil and plants from falling out when it’s placed upright.

Here’s a video showing you how to create your vertical pallet garden using this method.

6. Method 2: Pallet Planter Box Method

This method involves modifying the pallet to create box-like planters for your plants. It requires a bit more work but offers a stunning result. Here’s the process:

Step 1: Remove Slats: Depending on your plant sizes and how much space they’ll need, remove the necessary slats from the front of your pallet using a crowbar or hammer.

Step 2: Create Planter Boxes: Now, use the removed slats to create the base of your planter boxes. Secure these with screws to the bottom of the gaps left by the removed slats.

Step 3: Drill Drainage Holes: To prevent waterlogging, drill a few drainage holes in each planter box.

Step 4: Line Planter Boxes with Weed Mat: Line each planter box with landscaping fabric, securing it with a staple gun. This will help hold the soil in place and prevent it from falling out through the drainage holes. It also helps to retain moisture.

Step 5: Secure to the Wall/ Fence if Mounting: The method of securing it to the wall/ fence will depend on the materials. You could use masonry bolts or screws and wall plugs. This is where it would be useful to visit your local hardware store to find out what suits based on the materials you have.

Step 6: Add Soil and Plants: Add potting mix to each planter box not quite filling them to the top (remember there needs to be room left for your plants in the soil). Add your chosen plants. Make sure to water them thoroughly after planting.

Step 7: Let the Plants Settle: Just like the first method, allow your pallet garden to lie flat for 1-2 weeks to let the plants take root.

This great video shows you how to create a vertical pallet garden by creating planter boxes.

And there you have it – two different ways to create a beautiful, space-saving, and budget-friendly vertical pallet garden. Whichever method you choose, you’re sure to end up with a green space that brings life and beauty to your surroundings. Enjoy your gardening journey!

7. Caring for Your Pallet Garden

With your vertical pallet garden now full of life and charm, it’s essential to ensure proper care to keep it flourishing. Here’s how:

  • Watering: Be mindful of your watering routine. Unlike traditional gardens, vertical gardens can dry out faster, so they may require more frequent watering. However, avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot. The right balance will depend on the types of plants you’ve chosen and the climate you’re in.
  • Sunlight: Ensure your garden is positioned to receive the right amount of sunlight based on the plants you’ve selected. Some plants prefer full sun, while others do better in partial shade.
  • Feeding: Feed your plants with a balanced fertiliser to replenish nutrients and keep them healthy. Check the instructions on the fertiliser packaging to know how often and how much to use.

Pruning and Pest Control: Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of disease or pests. Prune any dead or dying parts to keep your plants healthy and your garden looking its best. If you spot any pests, use an eco-friendly pesticide to handle them.

8. Tips to Decorate Your Vertical Pallet Garden

Once your vertical pallet garden is up and thriving, you might want to add a touch of personal flair to make it even more visually appealing. Here are some creative ideas to decorate your garden:

  • Paint the Pallet: Painting your pallet can immediately elevate its look. You might choose to paint the entire pallet in a single colour that complements your plants or your outdoor decor. Or get creative and paint a design or pattern that adds an artistic touch. Just be sure to use outdoor-friendly, non-toxic paint.
  • Add a Sign: Create a little wooden sign with an inspirational quote, the name of your garden, or even a cute drawing, and attach it to the top of your pallet. This can add a lovely personal touch.
  • Use Garden Accessories: Garden accessories like fairy lights, wind chimes, or even small garden gnomes can add charm and character to your vertical garden.
  • Decorative Pots: If you’re using the Pallet Planter Box Method, consider using decorative pots within the planter boxes. These can add an extra layer of visual interest and can be changed out according to the season or your mood.
  • Create a Theme: Consider creating a theme for your garden. This could be based on colour (e.g., all purple flowers), type of plant (e.g., an all-herb garden), or even something more whimsical (e.g., a fairy-tale theme).
  • Showcase a ‘Star’ Plant: Choose a particularly stunning plant to be the ‘star’ of your vertical garden. Position it in a central or eye-catching spot and arrange other plants around it.

Remember, the most important aspect of decorating your vertical pallet garden is that it reflects your style and makes you happy. After all, this is your green oasis to enjoy!

9. Mounting Your Vertical Pallet Garden

Choosing the right location to mount your vertical pallet garden is crucial. Not only does it need to be a spot where your plants will get the right amount of sunlight, but it also needs to be a place that can accommodate the weight of the garden. Here are some tips on where and how to mount your pallet garden:

9.1 Where to Mount Your Pallet Garden:

  • Outdoor Wall: This could be a wall on the exterior of your home, a fence, or even a sturdy garden shed. Just be sure that the spot gets appropriate sunlight for your chosen plants.
  • Balcony: If you live in an apartment, mounting your pallet garden on a sturdy balcony railing can be a great way to add some greenery to your space.
  • Inside Your Home: Yes, vertical gardens can be indoors, too! Just be sure to choose a wall that gets sufficient light, and consider putting a catchment tray or similar solution underneath to avoid water damage to your floors.

9.2 How to Mount Your Vertical Pallet Garden:

  • Freestanding: If you prefer not to mount your pallet garden, you can make it freestanding. Just ensure it’s well-supported and stable. You could lean it against a wall or use stakes or additional pieces of wood to support it from the back.
  • Wall-Mounted: To mount your pallet garden on a wall, you’ll need sturdy brackets and screws. Attach the brackets to the pallet first, then attach these to the wall. Make sure to use wall plugs appropriate for the type of wall you’re mounting on (e.g., brick, plasterboard). Consider consulting a professional if you’re unsure about this step, as the garden will be heavy and needs to be securely attached to avoid accidents.
  • Railing-Mounted: For mounting on a balcony railing, use heavy-duty zip ties or metal clamps. Again, make sure this is done securely to prevent any accidents.

Always remember, safety is paramount when mounting your vertical pallet garden. It’s also essential to check local regulations or strata rules (if applicable) before mounting your garden. Once it’s safely up, you’re ready to enjoy your beautiful green space!

10. Final Thoughts about Vertical Pallet Gardens

Now that you’ve built and planted your vertical pallet garden and know how to care for it, all that’s left to do is to enjoy it! This upcycled green space will not only bring you joy but also contribute positively to the environment. Whether you’ve created a vibrant display of flowers, a handy kitchen herb garden, or a unique arrangement of succulents, your vertical pallet garden is a testament to your creativity and green thumb.

And remember, gardening is a journey. As your plants grow and flourish, so too will your skills and experience. So, here’s to many enjoyable hours spent in the calming presence of your DIY vertical pallet garden. Happy gardening!

 11. FAQs for Pallet Gardens 

What kind of plants can I grow in my DIY Vertical Pallet Garden?

The possibilities are endless! You can grow herbs, flowers, succulents, or even small vegetables. Just remember, the size and root depth of your plants should match the depth of the pallet pockets you’ve created.

How do I water my Vertical Pallet Garden?

Water your pallet garden gently using a watering can or hose with a shower setting, ensuring all plants receive enough water. Remember that water will flow downwards, so start from the top.

Can I use any pallet for this project?

No, it’s crucial to use a heat-treated (marked with ‘HT’) and clean pallet. Avoid pallets treated with harmful chemicals such as methyl bromide (marked ‘MB’).

Can I place my Vertical Pallet Garden indoors?

Yes, as long as you have a space with adequate light for your chosen plants. However, consider that watering may cause some spillage, so place a tray or similar beneath the garden to protect your floors.

Can my pallet garden stand freely, or does it need to be secured?

While a pallet garden can stand freely, it’s recommended to secure it to avoid tipping over, especially in areas with wind or around children and pets. You can secure it to sturdy walls, fences, or posts.

How often should I water my Vertical Pallet Garden?

The frequency of watering will depend on the type of plants you’ve chosen, their water needs, and the climate in your area. As a general rule, ensure the soil is damp but not waterlogged.

How do I know if my pallet garden gets enough light?

Different plants have different light requirements. Research the plants you’ve chosen for your garden and ensure they match the light conditions in the garden’s location. Symptoms of inadequate light can include slow growth, lean toward the light source, or discolouration.

How do I prevent root rot in my vertical pallet garden?

Root rot is a common issue in gardens, especially when plants are overwatered or the soil doesn’t drain well. Here are a few tips to prevent it in your vertical pallet garden:

  1. Choose the right plants: Some plants are more resistant to root rot than others. Succulents and other plants adapted to dry conditions are a good choice.
  2. Use well-draining soil: Make sure to use a soil mix that drains well. This prevents water from sitting around the roots for too long, which can lead to root rot.
  3. Don’t overwater: Overwatering is a common cause of root rot. Water your plants only when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch.
  4. Ensure good airflow: Good air circulation can help keep fungal pathogens at bay. Don’t plant your plants too densely; leave some space for air to circulate.
  5. Drill drainage holes: Drilling holes in the bottom of your pallet garden can greatly help in preventing root rot. These holes will allow excess water to drain out, preventing the soil from becoming waterlogged and reducing the risk of root rot. Remember to place your garden in a location where water draining from the bottom won’t cause any issues, or consider placing a tray or similar underneath to catch the runoff.

Remember, prevention is the best way to deal with root rot. If you notice any signs of the disease, such as yellowing leaves or a foul smell, take action immediately to save your plants.

After planting, should I keep the pallet horizontal until the roots take hold before mounting the vertical garden?

Yes, that’s an excellent idea. After you’ve planted your vertical pallet garden, keeping it horizontal for a couple of weeks allows the plants to establish and the roots to take hold. This period also gives the soil a chance to settle.

By doing this, you’ll ensure that when you eventually mount the pallet vertically, the plants and soil won’t fall out. This will help your garden thrive and reduce the chances of plant shock or damage during the transition from horizontal to vertical.

After a few weeks, you should see new growth, which indicates that the plants are well-rooted and the pallet is ready to be moved to its vertical position. Be sure to handle it gently when moving and mounting to avoid disturbing your newly established plants.

Should I be worried about moisture from the vertical pallet garden damaging my wall?

Remember, the type of wall material will also influence how it handles moisture. Some materials, like brick or concrete, may cope better than others. Always consider the specific conditions of your space before installing your vertical pallet garden.


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