A Palatable Pallet Garden

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vertical pallet garden

Some families hit the beach or the slopes for their Spring Break adventures. We hit the road and treated our kids to a dumpster diving adventure extraordinaire. There isn’t much that can create more family unity than finding the perfect pallet. Everybody wants to be part of the excitement of planning a vertical garden based off of the newly acquired garbage, right? Creativity knows no bounds, so we went in for the reward, and we came out with a prize. What Spring Break could be better?

A Palatable Pallet

vertical pallet garden
The pallet that became our Spring Break project.

Last week, we talked about vertical gardening options, and today, we’re sharing another version that’s an easy and rewarding garden project. After our pallet discovery and a stealth rescue from its near demise, we brought our find home. We stared at it upright on end. We deliberated over upright long-wise. We waited and waited for our pallet to tell us exactly what it wanted us to do with it. We knew we wanted a vertical garden. We also knew that the wood used to build pallets isn’t really conducive to growing edibles directly in. We had to come up with a design for a vertical garden that we could grow on and not in. Finally we had the vision.

Pallet Reconstruction

vertical pallet garden
The new and improved pallet structure.

We began our pallet transformation by wrangling a few of the cross boards off. We set those boards aside for later use. The boards that we left in place on the front of the pallet lined up with a board on the back of the pallet. Our vertical garden was starting to take shape.

We wanted to create a palatable pallet garden. While many pallet gardeners grow herbs and vegetables directly in their pallets, there’s great debate over growing edibles in wooden pallets. The chemicals sometimes used to preserve the wood can seep into the soil that feeds the plants. You are what you eat and the thought of growing my very own poison-laced vegetables to serve my family triggered my gag reflex a little bit. We’re going a different route.

vertical pallet garden
A view of the newly constructed shelves.

We measured the boards that we originally pulled off of the pallet. We cut them to length so we could create shelving. We now have three rows of shelves. Across the top of the pallet, there’s another potential planter. We used the same scrap wood to add a floor into the bottom of the planter. Then we simply secured all of our shelving with nails.

vertical pallet garden
Construction complete!

Dolling it Up

We could have stopped here for a primitive, unfinished look. But this pallet was begging for a more cottage-garden look. So we grabbed our favorite colored paint. And everybody painted our vertical pallet garden. Who needs the beach?

vertical pallet garden
Our vertical garden with a coat of paint looks garden-chic

After the paint dried, we sealed the paint with exterior urethane. We would have preferred a water based polyurethane for this project because water based polyurethane tends to dry with more a clear finish. We didn’t want our favorite paint color to take on a yellowish tint.

vertcial pallet garden
Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is a dependable choice for exterior wood projects.

Exterior urethane is loaded with helpful additives that preserve wood and the paint we used. Between intense sun, dramatic temperature changes, lots of wind, and occasional heavy rain and hail, our pallet will need all of the extra help it can get. So we went with an oil-based spar urethane which hopefully won’t yellow much.

For the final touch, we collected our empty pots to display while we wait for the weather to warm. Once we can finally add plants to our vertical container garden, we will grow herbs and flowers on it. From the top compartment, some green, vining plants will drape over the edges. Then, everyone will get to select a colorful plant or two to care for on their own. I’ll grow some of our favorite kitchen herbs among the colorful flowers. I’m hopeful that between the herbs and the happy flowers that our kids will forget their garbage diving Spring Break and only remember the unforgettable result.

Photo of author

About Amy

Amy spent her early years roaming a neighbor's corn field, much to her parents' distress, and eating tomatoes like apples in her Midwest grandmother's garden. She learned to snap green beans like a machine by the tender age of four. Later, as a Colorado gal, she battled the elements and finally had success growing a celebratory rhubarb plant in a high altitude garden setting. At that point, there was no turning back. She gave in to her green thumb and, in order of priority, is currently growing vegetables, flowers, kids, and pets on the high plains south of Denver.

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2 thoughts on “A Palatable Pallet Garden”

  1. What if you were to flip that over and either set the pots in the vacant space or just plant the plants directly in there instead? With the pots inset you would not have to worry about them being blown off and if you just plant directly in there then the planter is highly transportable.


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