How to Make a Herb Garden Using Old Pallets
A vertical herb garden adds colour and texture to any outdoor space but also gives you everything you use when cooking from scratch, on your doorstep.
If you love cooking with fresh herbs but there’s no room for an indoor herb garden in your kitchen, it’s the ideal answer. Vertical herb gardens also work well in small spaces such as balconies or alleyways, as they don’t use too much floor space. Everything is also kept in its separate section to avoid herbs like mint from spreading, unlike if you were to plant them into the ground.
Using old pallets keeps costs right down. For most people, you can get your hands on them through building merchants for free, as they’re a waste product. Neighbours may also be getting rid of some if they have just had building supplies delivered.
You will need two pallets for this project. Try to ensure they’re the same, to make it easier to line them up when drilling together. You should also inspect the pallet wood for any issues, such as imperfections or rough woodwork which you wouldn’t want on show.
One pallet can be used if this is all you have, but bear in mind the space for plants will be narrower so your roots may not have enough room to thrive in.
Of course, you don’t need to grow herbs if you’re not a home cook. Why not make a bit of a living wall? Floral plants such as lavender or seasonal geraniums can add scent and colour to boring garden walls. It will keep them off the ground which is great if you regularly need to sweep or hose your patio down.
How to Build a DIY Pallet Planter
Below is a guide for a three-tier vertical planter. You should wear PPE when carrying out any DIY tasks, to protect yourself from injuries and when using power tools.
When working with your pallets, you should wear gloves to protect your hands from any splinters or rough woodwork. Then when you are using your power tools, wear eye protection and a mask if you are sanding.
Before you get going, you should also check the existing nails in your pallets. If any need to be removed, do this with a hammer and replace them.
Tools you will need:
Safety tip: Remember to always use a dust mask, eye protection and protective gloves when using a sander (to avoid potential harm).
Goods you will need:
- Two wooden pallets
- Wood sealer/paint
- Wood screws
- Semipermeable membrane
- Screws to fix the planter to a wall/fence (masonry or wood screws)
Step 1: Clean the pallets
First thing first, before anything else, you need to clean your pallets. A dry scrubbing brush will work. Try to avoid using water, as soaking them won’t be any good for the wood.
Step 2: Sand down rough edges
Pallets are primarily designed to carry and support other items, so they can have rough finishes and edges. Use a sander to smooth these out, which should also get rid of any splinters.
Step 3: Remove some slats
You should remove some slats on one pallet to create access gaps for your plants. You should do this to the pallet that will be at the front of your planter, so inspect them for any issues such as imperfections in the wood and place the one of the worst quality at the back.
Which slats you remove depends on the height and space needed for your herbs, as well as the design of your pallet. You may wish to remove every other slat, or only leave the ones in the centre.
Step 4: Paint and protect
If you will be painting your pallets, now is a good time to do it. Not only will a bit of colour look great, but the paint should also protect the wood from rot over time, especially when it gets wet.
Want to keep the rustic wooden look? Use a clear sealant, which keeps the wood looking original yet will still protect it from weather and bugs. Painting or protecting them now means that the wood which won’t be on show is protected, too.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: Painting wooden features is a great way to bring some colour into your garden. Opt for a fun paint colour. Or use black paint so you can label your herbs with chalk
Step 5: Drill the pallets together
The slats on both pallets should face outwards. This gives you a larger inner gap for planting. The pallets should be drilled where they match up; this will likely be down the sides, and along the top and bottom.
Your wood screws will need to be long enough to go through the first pallet and into the second. Using a drill and screws means they’re driven straight into the wood in no time.
Step 6: Make your planting pockets
The membrane will act as a planting pocket for your soil. Water should be able to run through the membrane, so opt for one which is semipermeable, such as landscaping fabric. You can add a few tiny drainage holes once fitted if you’d rather use some material you already have.
Measure the length each pocket will need to be, and then measure the depth. Add a suitable amount onto the depth, bearing in mind that your pockets will need to be quite deep to hold the soil.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: Giving each plant its own pocket may be more work, but it will prevent the plants from fighting with each other for space or some getting overgrown
Cut your membrane pieces to size using scissors. Once in position, use your staple gun to fasten the fabric to the back and front slats. This could be a tight squeeze if working from the inside gap; if so we recommend buying staples which will go right through the thickness of your wooden slats so you can staple from the outside.
You can also use the wood which was removed from the front pallet as shelves for your plants, rather than using the membrane. This would mean you’re only using your pallet and nothing else to make your planter. We’d recommend keeping your plants in pots if you do this, so the wood isn’t in contact with damp soil, which could cause it to rot quicker.
Step 7: Fasten to a secure surface
Your planter should be secured to a flat surface, such as a fence or wall, to avoid the risk of injury if the pallet was to fall. This is especially important if you have pets or young children.
Thanks to removing some slats, you should have some rear slats visible from the front of the planter. Use your drill and some masonry screws to attach these to a wall, whether this is a garden wall or your house wall. If attaching to a fence or the side of a shed, wood screws can be used.
You can also use brackets to attach your pallet garden to a secure surface if this is easier.
Step 8: Plant
Once your pallet planter is ready, fill up the plant pockets with a layer of compost before planting your favourite herbs. Some bought cheaply in the supermarket can thrive if they have some more space and TLC.
You can also plant other edibles such as strawberries, or ornamentals such as succulents. Use the correct soil for your chosen plants, and don’t choose anything which needs very deep roots or will outgrow the space.
You can also use hanging planters on your pallet garden; just hook them onto the wooden slats. Ideal if your wall planter and culinary skills grow over the years.
How to care for your herb garden
If you have painted or sealed your pallets, repeat this on the wood that is visible every year. This will add some further protection, but also touch up the colour after winter.
When watering your plants, try to water the soil directly rather than spraying the whole pallet with a hose. You should ideally minimise how wet your pallet gets. You may want to cover everything up in winter, with a large plastic sheet.
Regularly maintain screws and nails if needed. You can also replace individual sections of wood if it is starting to wear.
Ready for more DIY Tips?
Thank you for reading our Speedy Services blog on how to make your very own DIY pallet herb garden. We hope you feel inspired to get growing and cooking!
If you want more space to grow your own produce and flowers, why not also think about building a raised bed? You could even use any leftover wood to make a small planter if you don’t want to throw it away.
Visit our Skills and Projects page for more inspiration both in the home and outdoors.
- For more tips subscribe to our YouTube Channel: Speedyserviceshire
- Find ideas on Instagram: speedyhirediy
*Image by Couleur from Pixabay
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