If you visited the greenhouse last summer you may have noticed our vertical pallet garden out in the front of the store. It was such an enjoyable project and we had so much positive feedback about it that we thought you’d like to make one of your own at home! It’s really fun to watch grow and change as the season progresses, completely customizable, and pretty simple to do yourself.
- One wood pallet – look for one that’s in good shape and has evenly-spaced slats that are wide enough to get plants in between. Hose it off.
- Landscape fabric – enough to cover the back and sides of the pallet twice (our pallet was about 4’x3.25’, so we used around 30sq’ total)
- Staple gun
- Light potting soil
- A selection of herbs, greens, edible flowers, and whatever else you desire
Step 1: Landscape Fabric
Measure, cut and staple two layers of landscape fabric to the back, sides, and bottom of your pallet. Hold it taught and staple generously. Cut and staple a temporary piece for the top as well – this is to prevent the soil from falling out while you fill it and will be removed in a couple of weeks. Bring your prepared pallet to a sunny area off the ground where it can stay laying down for a couple weeks while things get rooted in.
Step 2: Soil
Fill with soil. It’s best to use a light potting mix. The amount depends on the size of your pallet, but a quick volume calculation should help you out (length x width x height). According to this, the volume of our pallet was 3.6ft3. To convert this to litres, multiply by 28.3. This equals 102 litres. Our bags of potting soil are sold in 25l bags, so you’ll need approximately 4 bags of soil. WHEW! Now that you’ve done the super exciting surprise math part of this project, fill your pallet with soil, making sure to push it towards the bottom and under the slats. Remember that you’ll eventually be putting this upright and soil is guaranteed to shift downward.
Step 3: Plants!
Now that all the prep work is complete, it’s time to get planting. In total, here’s what we used:
- 4 strawberry plants
- 8 pansies (1.5 six-packs)
- 6 lettuce (1 six-pack)
- 2 potted nasturtium
- 9 herbs
- Lemon balm
- Lemon thyme x 2, thyme
- Golden sage, purple sage
- Orange mint, spearmint
- 6 more upright herbs saved for the top
- Perpetual Pesto basil
- Lemon grass
- Pineapple sage
Place plants as you’d like, making sure to save the plants that grow decidedly upright for the top and to give all the herbs their own space. Once you’re happy with how everything looks, go ahead and plant. You may need to squish some of the root balls to get through the slats, but they’ll be fine. Give your new pallet garden a watering, and let the soil settle. This is a good opportunity to fill in any low spots with soil.
Step 4: Let ‘er Grow!
Now we wait. You want to let the plants root in for a while before moving it upright. We of course were lucky enough to have a greenhouse for our pallet garden to start its life, which got things growing much faster than it would have outside. 11 days after planting, we brought it outside to acclimatize, placing it on another pallet to keep it off the ground. They won’t need too much water at this point, but check according to temperature and weather conditions.
Step 5: Let’s Get Vertical
Time to raise the sails! Five days after moving it outside, we moved the pallet semi-upright, leaning it on a 45 degree angle. You’ll probably want to wait for a bit longer to let things root in – check your plants to see how snug they are. Raising it gradually will help prevent too much soil loss, so wait a few days before shimmying it to a more upright angle. Use anchoring brackets to attach the top to the wall it’s leaning against to prevent it from falling over. You can go ahead and remove that temporary piece of landscape fabric from the top and plant your saved herbs now as well.
Tips & Notes:
- Once its first vertical, you’ll definitely have soil (and maybe some plants) shifting. Just fill it in the spots and let things grow – once the plants root out more they’ll keep everything in place.
- It’s very important to water slowly when it’s first upright to prevent lots of soil from spilling out of all the slats.
- The nasturtium ended up getting HUGE and we ended up removing it and replacing it with more sage and thyme
- The pineapple sage on the top level got too big as well and took up half of the top by September. It sure has a lovely smell though!
- The spearmint is an aggressive grower as well, but it was excellent in mojitos!
- Pansies benefit from being clipped back once or twice to keep them blooming, which they did through October!
This was our first go at creating a vertical pallet garden, and we hope you give it a try too! There are so many possibilities – imagine it full of blooming cascading callies, for example, or stuffed with succulents! If you make your own, we’d love to see it. Send us an email or a message through Facebook!