As a Micro Gardener, I’m always looking for compact solutions for my garden. If you have limited time, money, space or skills you may find this easy, low-cost pallet project a simple way to make your garden functional and beautiful.
I love reusing everyday materials to save money and tread lighter on the planet. Wood pallets are a free resource available at many business and industrial sites. I upcycle pallets for all sorts of garden projects from mini garden storage units to compost bays and planters.
For this year’s Balcony Garden display at the Queensland Garden Expo, I salvaged a couple of timber pallets from a local organic farm and gave them a face lift for new life outdoors. They formed two side ‘walls’ in the display but I plan to now reuse them at home as they are so versatile.
This pallet planter is easy enough for any of us girls to revamp too.
DIY Pallet Planter Tutorial
What you need:
- Clean Pallet – in new or as good condition as possible (heat-treated rather than chemical) – See tips at the end of the post on 20 Creative Ways to Upcycle Pallets in your Garden for what to look for.
- Sandpaper for any rough edges if needed + a pair of gloves.
- Hammer and a few 2.5cm (1 inch) nails.
- 2-3 extra timber palings from another pallet for shelves (cut to size if needed).
- Drill (optional and easier for pre-drilling holes if you have one but you can use the hammer instead) and a screwdriver.
- Non-toxic paint in your colour choice (preferably enviro-friendly low-VOC) or timber stain and a medium sized paint brush.
- (Optional) depending on your situation, you may also want 2 steel star pickets or stakes and 4 screws (2 for each side) to support the pallet vertically either end.
- Patience (that’s for the painting part!!) or rope your kids or significant others in to help – it took about 1 hr to paint one coat on both sides for a good finish.
- Glass of bubbles to celebrate your achievement!!
Take a good look at your pallet when choosing it. Each one is made differently and some lend themselves to this project more than others. This is what mine looked like on the underside.
On the other side it had vertical palings so looked good as a ‘fence’ or side wall.
- Check the width of your potential ‘planter boxes’ on each tier of the pallet – my pallets were about 100mm (4 in) wide. If you want them wider so you can slot in a rectangular pot rather than making a shelf underneath, then you may need to remove the front timber slat and pack out the timber to make it the width you want. I didn’t need to do this but it’s an option.
- Add a timber paling as a ‘shelf’ for each planter ‘box’ by nailing it to the underside. I just used a hammer and nails for this. Measure the timber so it is the same length as the pallet, but not as wide so there is a gap along the edge for water to drain (see below).
- Nail the slat in place.
- Allow a gap for drainage – You can also drill additional drainage holes in the timber planter box base if you wish.
- Prepare the timber – if there are rough edges you may need to grab the gloves and use sandpaper to smooth these off and prevent splinters. I like a rustic look so don’t mind if the wood isn’t perfect but if you want to, you can fill holes or gaps with a timber putty or filler.
- Next, your pallet is ready for painting or timber stain depending on your personal taste and budget.
- Remember when choosing paint or tint, pale colours reflect light and dark colours absorb it. If you live in a warm climate, painting your pallet black may not be the best choice – here in the subtropics I chose cream. It looks classy and was a nice backdrop for the black decorative hooks and butterfly chalkboard I wanted to hang.
- Once the top coat is on, the planter should be looking like this:
- Next up you’re ready for the fun part – adding your pots, plants and decorative items.
- Position your pallet in place – if it needs support in the ground, use the star pickets or stakes or otherwise, you can add some additional T-pieces of timber as feet supports and perhaps secure to your balcony with zip ties. Or secure to a planter box with more weight at the base. Add your favourite plants and water in.
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Here is the other pallet planter I made for the Expo at the other end of the Balcony Garden display:
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Well, I hope you’re inspired to have a go at making your own Pallet Planter using this tutorial. If you don’t want to miss future posts, subscribe to my newsletter at the top of the page (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right.
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