Friday, 18 February 2011

Re-cycling pallets to make planters ... ...

This week we have decided to extend the growing space we have, for the last couple of years we've grown a pretty good amount of stuff, but this year we are going all out.

I have already made extra space by moving various things about, and stealing little bits of lawn here and there ;-) we did grow some extra things in the front garden last year, which worked quite well, so with that in mind we decided that because we don't use the front lawn for anything in particular we would turn it into a new veg bed, well not all of it, so we made three raised beds that measure 3 feet by 4 feet, and to keep the cost down we got some pallets for free.

Here's one of the finished articles -

One of the new veg beds.

It's nothing special, this type of thing isn't hard to build, and if you use pallets you will only have to do a little wood cutting to get things to the size you want, as it turned out the wood I got was the right size for the job.

I can't really say enough about using pallets for this kind of thing, firstly there's the price, which is nothing, most places will let you have one or two pallets for free, and if they have broken ones they may let you take more, after all it saves them the job of getting rid of them.
The wood that pallets are made from isn't the best in terms of finish, but it's good sturdy stuff, I've used pallets before to build a storage cupboard for the garden tools and such like, and I have plans to make small pieces of furniture out of them, book shelves and some other things, I will have slightly more work to do in terms of finishing, but a quick buzz over with a belt sander will sort most of it out.

To make a planter / raised bed is pretty simple really, all you need is a hammer and some nails, a saw (and a tape measure) and a pencil, or if you have some screws and a cordless drill you can use that.
Basically you want to make a rectangle / square shape, with a thin piece of wood in each corner that you can use to peg it down with (a one inch square peg will do)

Here's a picture of the wood work - 

You can see the pegs in each corner, these also help hold it together.
You don't have to add the pegs, but I find it helps keep it in place and to hold it together, they don't have to be very long, just a few inches.
If your putting yours on a piece of lawn keep the turf, it might come in handy, some of our lawns in the back garden are a little patchy, so I kept the turf to fill them in.

It's easy to mark out the turf, just lay the frame on the ground and cut round it with a half moon cutter (edging iron) or you can use a spade.

Using the frame as a template - 

That's me, cutting out the section of lawn to be removed.
Once you've cut round the frame you can move it out of the way and then using the cutter cut the turf into more manageable sections, then use your spade to lift it up, you might want to have a place ready to store the turf, or if you plan to use it have that area ready, then you can get both jobs done quickly.
After that all you need to do is place the frame on the new patch of earth and bang each corner in using a hammer, it won't take much and that's about it.

You should end up with something like this - 

Ready for production.

I had two little helpers when I made our new beds, they seemed to enjoy it, although I suspect it was the chance to investigate under the grass rather than helping me, it's worth getting the kids involved they can learn a lot, for example we found loads of little centipede and beetle larvae under the turf, I guess they were hibernating there over winter there were loads of worms as well so the kids get a chance to learn about nature and bugs (kids love bugs, if you have bugs you're onto a winner) and you may find other things as well, we found a ten pence piece under the grass, which prompted a mass excavation for treasure :-)

Digging for gold - 

We didn't find any more money.
They seemed to love digging in the mud so much, they carried on - 

There must be more in here some where :-)
And there you have it, we now have three beds at about twelve square feet each, and all it took is a little wood work and some digging, and it cost nothing and on top of that we spent an hour or two having fun as a family in the garden, can't be bad.
So get out into the garden, if it's a little chilly put an extra jumper on, the fresh air will do you good, and it won't hurt the kids if they get a little muddy, you and the kids can learn so much, and in an age where it seems adults and children especially are loosing touch with nature it has to be a good thing ?

Thanks for reading, and happy growing :-)


  1. Thank you posting this one! My daughter & I are in the process of starting one of these in our backyard. I'm not a "real" gardener but I love flowers and I'm always trying something new. I got a few good pointers from your post! Thanks! :)

    1. Glad you found it useful, I wouldn't class myself as a real gardener either, but I enjoy it anyway, I hope your planters prove to be productive.