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How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden
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How to Make a Better Strawberry Pallet Planter

Use a wooden pallet to make a Strawberry Pallet Planter, a garden container that you can use to grow a dozen or more strawberry plants

Over the past year, I’ve come across scores of DIY pallet projects, some of them intriguing and others not quite there. One that I see time and again is the idea of using a single wooden pallet as a strawberry planter. Filled with soil and with plants inserted in the gaps they’re usually leaned up against a wall but sometimes bolted on to keep from tumbling over. I decided that I’d like to have a strawberry pallet planter too, but that I’d come up with a better design.

This piece includes full written and video instructions on how to make a strawberry pallet planter using a single wood pallet. Once made, you can paint it and use it for years to grow berries in your garden or on the patio. It’s a great handmade planter that not only looks great but is functional and inexpensive to make. For this project, you’ll need a heat-treated wood pallet, a handful of tools, and an afternoon to put it together. Plant it with strawberries in spring and by summer you’ll be picking fresh berries from your patio.

This project also features in my new book, A Woman’s Garden Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things. I’m delighted to include it as the garden project in the chapter edible garden chapter. It also includes chapters on growing skincare plants, dye plants, beginner medicinal herbs, and much more.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden
Berries dangle down for easy picking

Strawberry Pallet Planter

Back to that original strawberry pallet idea though. A single pallet filled with potting mix and plants is a clever idea and not much work to create. However, I suspect that a container like that would need constant watering and erosion control. Both of which mean more hassle than it might be worth.

Still, I was interested in the idea and with the gift of eight pristine wooden pallets, so started thinking about alternative designs. Ones that offered increased stability, more soil capacity, and better aesthetics. The strawberry pallet planter I’m about to show you how to build is the final design. I’ve also shared it in my new book, A Woman’s Garden, Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things.

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How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden
Use a new pallet in good condition with nine facing planks.

It’s important to use safe pallets

First of all, choosing pallets for DIY projects involves a bit of know-how. You need pallets that are in good condition, without rot, and which have not been treated with chemical insecticides. Most people are probably not aware of this but pallets that cross international borders must be either heat-treated or sprayed to stop the spread of foreign pests.

Whether you think this is a good idea or not, you certainly do not want pesticide-soaked furniture or objects in your garden let alone your home. Not only can it kill off insects that eat your crops but it can indiscriminately kill all the beneficial insects too. There’s also the possibility of your plants absorbing these chemicals into their tissues and into your tasty strawberries!

To help you find the right type of pallet for your project I’ve put together a diagram of what to look for when you spot one. By international law, a pallet must be stamped twice with certain information which includes whether it’s been sprayed. Keep clear of any pallets that have been printed with the letters MB.

Look for these stamps to determine whether the pallet is safe to use in DIY projects #pallets

Pallet Size

For this project, you will also need to look for a pallet that has six or nine planks making up its main surface. The reason for this is that the first major step will be in slicing the pallet up into three equal-sized pieces (both six and nine are divisible by three). If there’s such a thing as a pallet with twelve planks then all the better because that means you can build an even larger planter.

To make a strawberry pallet planter, you’ll need a pallet that has spaces between the slats. It’s in these spaces that you’ll eventually plant your strawberries. If you find a great pallet that doesn’t have these spaces, you can still make an excellent deep planter with these instructions.

How to Make a Better Strawberry Planter

The dimensions of my pallet planters are: 47″ wide, 16″ across, and 19″ in height

You will need the following materials:

Optional:

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 1: Cut the pallet into three equal pieces

The easiest way to do this is to cut lay the pallet so that the long planks are in parallel with your own position. If your pallet has nine planks, as mine did, then count over three planks and then saw the wood between the third and fourth planks. Saw right in the middle, to keep things easy and to ensure that all of your proportions remain correct. Continue another three planks and cut again. Remember that you’ll have to saw in the exact places on both the front and back of the pallet.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 2: Trim and remove excess wood pieces

You’ll have three pieces of pallet now, all of the same height and width. Two of the pallets will be formed from the top and bottom and will have chunky blocks securely fixed to them between one of three planks on the front side and the single one left on the other. You’ll want to trim off the excess wood jutting up from each one of these wooden blocks. Please refer to the images for steps one and two. Though I chose not to do it in this project, you could also remove that single plank on the backside. If you do this then you could have a deeper planter – it’s up to you.

The piece that made up the center part of the pallet also has thick wooden blocks sandwiched between its front side and stubby planks on the other. Pull these blocks and stubby planks off but keep them in reserve – you’ll need them to complete the project. If there are nails sticking up after removing these pieces then either hammer them flat or remove them completely.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 3: Creating the box

The goal of this step is to create the three main sides of the container. The two end pieces will be the sides of your planter and the middle piece is the bottom.

Attach the two end pieces to the middle part of the pallet by screwing it in from the bottom of the middle piece. This is probably the most awkward step and might be easier with two people. Though the image shows the structure the right way up, it’s actually easier to flip it over in order to fix the bottom piece to the sides. You’ll want to screw or nail the bottom piece into the wooden blocks still attached to the side pieces.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 4: Preparing wood to create the feet and final two sides

You should have three to four of these pieces of plank that were removed from the back of the pallet. Remove the spacer blocks from them, if you’d like to use the spacers to create the feet. This is an optional step since it’s just as easy to set the pallet planter on bricks. If you don’t want to remove them, leave them as-is on the plank since they’ll be disguised once attached. I’ve found that you can usually knock them off with a hammer, but if you don’t want marks on the spacers, use a splitting wedge to help.

Once the spacers are off, you’ll be left with several square blocks and short wooden planks. The blocks can be used as feet, and the short planks can be screwed on to form the two short sides of the planter. Often times there isn’t enough wood of the right length, so make do with what you have.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 5: create the sides and feet

If you’ve followed the directions in step 1 and sawed in the middle between the long planks, then the little planks leftover from step four should all be approximately the same length. They will also be the same width you need to create the shorter sides of your planter. If your original pallet was the same size as mine then you’ll have four of these planks to make up two pieces for each side. The bottom planks for each of the shorter sides can be created by re-using the bits of wood you cut off the side pieces in step two. For a more pleasing and symmetrical effect, line the small side planks up with the planks that form the front and back pieces.

Attaching the wooden blocks as feet can be a bit tricky and in the end, I drove very long screws in sideways to attach them to the bottom of the planter. Putting feet on the piece will help with drainage and slow down the process of the bottom rotting. I think they also make the planter look nicer.

I can foresee some people finding pallets of slightly different sizes to mine and being left with fewer small planks and blocks in this step. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll end up with three of each rather than four, especially if you’re using a smaller pallet. In this case, you’ll be cobbling together more scraps to make an additional side piece and having to find a fourth block to use as the last foot. In this case, I’d look at removing one of the inner blocks from the side pieces to use.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden

Step 6: Project Completed

Well almost. Turn your planter right way up and have a look at it. Does it feel sturdy? Are the feet wobbly? Are there extra bits of wood sticking up that you could trim back? Once you feel the planter is complete then either plant it up as is or use a non-toxic outdoor wood paint to paint the exterior. Painting may help extend the planter’s life, but being wood, it will eventually break down. In my experience, the planter will last three years. The perfect amount of time to start fresh with new strawberry plants.

How to build a better Strawberry Pallet Planter. Grow strawberries on your deck or small garden #lovelygreens #growstrawberries #organicgarden
Learn how to plant a Strawberry Pallet Planter over here

Step 7: Plant it up

The potting mix used for the strawberry pallet planter will erode through any unprotected openings. Putting down your choice of barrier materials will help keep that soil where it’s supposed to be. I’ve made several strawberry planters now and have lined each a little differently.

The first one I lined with scraps of wire along the bottom, then I used straw to keep the growing medium inside. For other planters, I used landscaping fabric or plastic instead of straw. Use whatever you have to hand and wish you use. The point is to try to stop compost and potting mix from eroding out of the holes between the slats. Here are full planting instructions including how to plant the strawberry plants through the straw or material.

strawberry-pallet-planter-project

Update on 14/07/2013

Here’s a before and after shot of how my planter looked on the day of construction and how it looks today. In two months the plants have grown enormously and I’m picking ripe berries every day. I’ve planted my container with two types of strawberry and the most prolific are the ever-bearing variety that should produce fruit for most of the summer.

135 Comments

  1. Is there a preferable time of year to transplant strawberry plants? Mine are currently in a weed infested bed and I’d like to make some of these for their new home but want to give them the best chance!

  2. I was wondering if the pallet strawberry planter would keep strawberry plants alive after the winter. I live in zone 2 and hate having to replant my strawberries every year but don’t have room for a bed.

    1. All plants in containers feel the cold more than plants in the ground. What you can do is move the strawberry pallet planter undercover over winter. You’ll need a couple of strong people, but if you can get it in a polytunnel, greenhouse, or garage, then your berries will have a much better chance :)

      1. Since it is a pallet; a tractor could easily move it for over wintering. Brilliant design; I’m going to give this a go!

  3. Built two of these strawberry planters. The two planters instead were used as flower planters in front of our church in North Devon UK. The church is only a three minute walk from the beach and now have weathered and look like they have been made from driftwood. Easy project to build and can be used for a number of applications.

  4. I live in zone 5a in the USA. I’m wondering on what to do with the strawberries when it gets to be winter time. I have had a strawberry pot before but it really doesn’t work so well. I’m worried that I will buy strawberries every year like I have been. I need a change and really want to do this. But wondering about the winter time. Thanks if you are able to help.

    1. Hi Becky. Depending on your climate, you might need to move the planter undercover to protect the plants from intense freezes. That could mean an unheated garage, polytunnel, or greenhouse. Strawberries can survive below freezing temperatures but need to be protected from frost somehow. If you can’t move the planter, you could also wrap it in straw and horticultural fleece over winter.

  5. Hi Tanya,

    I like your articles!

    I have a lot of old skirting board that has been painted. I want to make a compost bin and strawberry planter! The house is mid 1980s so I think it should be lead-free but I am worried about other toxins in it. Any advice on what else I should check before using it in my garden?

    Thanks,
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter and my philosophy is that when in doubt, throw it out. You don’t need problems to arise after the fact and that includes issues with the wood, paint on the wood, food, or anything else.

  6. Tanya, tat’s a great idea, thank you for sharing.
    Does it get really cold in winter where you live?
    If so – how did you protect your strawberry plants during the winter.

  7. If you moved the feet in a couple of inches from the ends, you’d be able to screw directly into them from the inside of the planter, through the bottom, instead of having to deal with really long screws from the outside.

  8. Beautiful DIY recycled pallet projects. I have other plans for the pallets. I will use it as frame to my indoor koi pond project

  9. Hello
    Love this idea. Question what ratio of compost to manure to use. For beginners it would be nice to explain the thickness and mixtures.
    Thank you. I love berries of all kinds!

    1. I’ve tried different mixes throughout the years and to be honest, pure garden compost or pure, but fully composted, farmyard manure will do. Strawberries are hungry feeders and love being planted in pure compost. Saying that, the multipurpose compost you’d buy at garden centres often only has limited nutrition. Homemade stuff is much better.

  10. I stumbled upon this project while searching for ways to grow strawberries in containers. The video was such an inspiration I found a pallet and made a box this weekend. It’s lovely to look at, sturdy and functional. The only addition I made was to add casters to the feet so I could move it around my patio to follow the sun through the seasons. Thank you and I will be revisiting your site for more inspiration.

  11. I love your idea,,thank you for posting it and doing the step by step instructions to that is very helpful!!! I’ve been trying to figure out something to do with pallets because I knew there was a way to make things such as this and you handed me a plan on a silver platter,,thank you very much now I can’t wait to get this started,,I just have to find some pallets and I think my husband can bring some home for me!!!!

  12. I loved you idea so much I built a whole raised garden out of pallets. I followed your design for first planter. Boxed off area for the raised garden and built square planter as well with no gaps. I am really happy with the way it looks and hopefully will be enjoying fresh produce soon.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. How many plants could you get in your planter? I would like to try and don’t know how many to order. Thanks!

  14. What a great post!!! Former strawberry grower here who lost the lot due to some construction…..summer is never the same. I never would have thought of this and am so excited with the idea of strawberries again. This gives me the incentive to have a go. Thank you so much for this

  15. What an outstanding and detailed post! Love the idea and you did a really good job at building the planter!

  16. Hi my name is sandos it is brilliant idea .Thanks for the lovely video n I’m.going to use the wooden pallet .how do I subscribe do send me your lovely news to me

  17. Lots of hungry birds & raccoons in my area – any ideas for how to keep them from devouring all the berries?!

    1. Before the plants put on berries, scatter small, round, red, plastic Christmas ornaments around the planter, as if they were berries. The birds and critters will check them out. By the time you have ripe berries, they will have checked the ornaments and found them inedible. They will have lost interest in your planter. Works for tomatoes, too.

      1. Interesting idea but scattering small plastic anything will be a hazard for animals and the environment. Stones painted red could work the same way though.

  18. i am also straberry lover and you really help me… if u tell me what is the proper sunlight for this plant than i can start working on it

  19. a facebook page called living off the grid totally ripped you off on this. They even use your pictures. Not that it will do any good, but I ripped them for it. On the up side, it did lead me to your blog. I like it an have subscribed and liked your facebook page.

  20. Question – How do the squirrels take this? I have a ton of squirrels, rabbits and people who walk by and love strawberries. I can deal with the people but the rabbits and squirrels I am not sure about.

    1. We don’t have squirrels here so I’m not able to help you with advice on that account. As for rabbits, slugs, and snails though – keeping the berries off the ground has helped!

  21. So this was initially created in 2013. Are you still using this planter? Did it function as well as in ground?

    1. Since then I’ve made another and they’re both going strong! I grow in the ground as well and would say that if you have the right compost mix in the container then your plants will be just as productive as in the garden.

  22. I'm getting pallets as we speak for strawberries, and it made me think of another question. Do you or anyone else know if asparagus be grown in a raised bed like this?

    1. Personally I wouldn't do it myself. Asparagus crowns need a lot of space underground and the dimensions of this planter wouldn't be the best. If you do try growing them in it, I'd love to hear how you get on though!

  23. I love this idea. Your directions are very detailed and should be easy to follow. What are the dimentions of your planter, I didn't notice them above. Of course it probably would vary according to the pallet.

  24. Just finished building my planter. My pallet was set up differently then yours however I figured it out and it looks awesome! Now I am waiting for my strawberries to arrive and it to be warm enough to plant. Super stoked! The tutorial was great. Thanks for posting!!

  25. In Step 6 near the top – with the black cat, I read it at first as, '… Place your panther…' ! :D
    I must have a go at this with the one of the pallets I collected before breaking my leg!
    Thank you
    Joh
    :)

  26. Where would you place this in relation to a home – north, south, east or west side? Thank you for sharing your idea. I had given up on my strawberry patch, but this has renewed my enthusiasm.

  27. I also appreciate the info on chemicals. This is the first post regarding re-using pallets for projects, that I have seen, that makes any mention of how the wood has been treated. Great tutorial, thank-you!

  28. FINALLY a re use pallet post that has real info, esp the stuff about the chemicals on them …most can't be bothered to even post this !! This is one pin that I will be able to re use over and over!!

  29. i love your strawberry planter box idea.so im going to have ago at this brilliant project .thanks for your time to show us all.

  30. Thanks so much for the tutorial of the panter and how to plant them! We are doing our first garden this year and I'm super excited for strawberries! My boyfriend made the planter for me but we were wondering how many plants you planted and if you planted the strawberries only on the sides of the planter in between the slats, or across the entire surface of each layer? Sorry if that makes no sense lol I'm having a hard time figuring out how to pose the question! Thanks again!

  31. Love your way of creating a strawberry planter using pallets. I have this weird love for projects using pallets, but can't decide on which ones to do. This is going to the top of the list.
    Oh, and thanks for explaining treated vs untreated. I hadn't seen that yet.

    Thanks for sharing!

  32. love this idea I also have got a few pallets im going to try this with and just bought everberring strawberries as well…so excited to see how they turn out

  33. What do you do about the runners? I've read on other sites to keep them and then I've read to cut them. What do you with yours in pellets? I was thinking of putting this in my front yard, in front of my windowsill. But I've read birds love strawberries as much as we do. This seems easier to put a net over than growing it on the ground. Thanks for the idea.

  34. Tanya,

    I'm going to try this. What state are you located in, and what particular strawberry plant did you plant?

    1. We're located in Florida, USA. They grow strawberries here in my home town, so I sure hope this works. Thanks so much for your great idea!! We already found ourselves a pallet with the correct stamp on it! Any other tips for us?

  35. i am waiting the next post coz am very i need to starb but does reqiure attetion time is problem.

  36. To solve the problem of the cold, I think it would be fairly easy to frame a hoop house around the box. I can only container garden and hoop houses in the winter save my plants. Thanks for sharing this! I can't wait to give it a try!

  37. Love it! have to ask my hubby to grab me a pallet from work…this would probibly work nice for potatoes too

  38. Prolly dumb question but im new to gardening entirely will be attempting to make this since my son is a strawberry fiend!!!! Did u plants seed inside this box? or start seedling indoors then transplant?

  39. Planter finished. Wow, that was the best constructed pallet ever. I think it is oak. Had a heck of a time getting it apart. Strawberries go in tomorrow. Love this idea! Thank you! My strawberries started to take over more real estate then they were allotted. Now they have their own little condo. :) Thanks again for the great idea!

  40. Hi Tanya… very good idea… I have been using wooden pallets to construct many things such as (my first) chicken coop and beds for my veggies… your project on the strawberries is very good… it got my mind cracking as to my next pallet project…

  41. I've just stumbled across your blog and found this post. The pallet planter is a perfect project for me and the hubby to tackle. We have ducks and they tend to root around in plants so I can grow things in here which they can't reach!

  42. We make stuff from pallets around our place. Thank you so much for including the info on how to check whether a pallet has been treated with pesticides!

    I also love your strawberry planter. We will be using your plan this fall when we plant more strawberries. Great idea!

  43. Another option for avoiding possible contamination would be to use the pallet planter as a container for pots rather than planting directly in it…

    1. Absolutely! Whether a pallet has been treated with Methyl Bromide or not, there's a concern about what exactly has been shipped around on the pallets and if the wood has been exposed to any contaminants.

  44. My wife found this on Pintrest and it has now become my project ;-) I have built one and had to modify as it did not use some of the same dimension wood as yours did so I had to "barrow" wood from an extra pallet :-)

    The part I'm confused about is putting the starters in the planter.
    My spacing between pallet decking is wider than yours, is that okay or will soil fall out the sides?
    You said space the starters 14" apart which I get, but how much soil do I put on top of each layer?
    And as far as orientating the starters do I do it like the figure below?

    Figure 1:
    Layer3 X->-X->-X
    Layer2 ->X->-X
    Layer1 X->-X->-X

    Thanks for the help, Ryan

    1. If you're worried about soil spilling out you might want to line the inside of your planter with that weed-resistant material you can buy at garden centres. It lets water drain through but holds soil in and will also stop weeds from taking root in the side slats of your planter. When you've figured out where to place your plants just slit a hole in the material and push the plant through.

      As for how much soil to layer on top, I don't think it really matters just so long as you provide enough soil and compost for each plant to have a healthy root system. Also, please plant in whichever order you'd prefer and just use my tips as guides :)

  45. Hubby brought me home some really good pallets,I already have a strawberry garden that does great so I am going to try these out on my tomatoes,peppers and zucchini,wish me luck!

  46. What a great idea! You did an amazing job and did a great job with the post too. Thanks for the info…can't wait to see it with the strawberries filled in. :)

  47. Tanya, I'm so impressed with your ingenuity. I think it helps that you have the right tools to speed up the job. My son tried to take a pallet apart to build a frame for a school photo project and it took him ages! The planks just wouldn't separate as hugely long nails had been driven in. Once the pieces were broken up, we still had to deal with the nails. You seem to have avoided that problem and come up with a well designed trough for your plants. It's an idea I'd love to copy – the finished piece is rustically beautiful.

  48. I had my first set of pallets and decided after seeing your post, that this would be my first pallet project. With the help of my hubby, we broke them down, then built two of these in about 2 hours. We still have to put the liner, soil and plants in, but I am very pleased with how they turned out. Thanks so much for the great idea!

  49. I'm def going to try this. My wife has been telling me that we don't have room for strawberries. I have so many other veggies going, but I have no fruit, so it would be nice to finally get some going……..Can't wait.

  50. That's fantastic, clever you. The tutorial is really handy, and it is so useful to know about the printed symbols on the pallets. I'm betting the strawberries will do really well in there, with so much space, fantastic soil and not too many slugs and snails. Maybe you could put something around the feet of the planter to deter them further – gravel or copper perhaps. (Last year they ate almost all of my strawbs – the ones that didn't rot in the rain that is!) A really great post, it must have taken you ages, thank you.

    1. Love the idea of slug-deterring copper around the legs…genius! The project itself is pretty quick and should only take about an hour and a half, start to finish. Planting it up probably took another 45 minutes so really just an afternoon.

    2. I'm told that slugs are deterred by using epsom salts to fertilize garden plants either disolve a tsp to gallon of water and use to water or mix about 1/2 cup into soil used for planting; also told to use aluminium pie plates and stake down or fill with gravel beside cabbages or other plants that have slug issues; also, thinking might do a planter for strawberries and one for herbs on back porch; handy to kithen; and another for cucumbers and one for squash because we do the raised bed gardens and it would save space on the viney plants that use more room!

  51. I love the idea to, but am worried about cold temps come winter. Will the plants make it without ground warmth? And no I don't have a green house :-(

    1. Strawberries are pretty hardy so why not give it a go? If it doesn't work out, strawberry plants are inexpensive so it's not a big loss. You could then use the planter for something different…herbs in the slots and lettuces on the top maybe? Perhaps even squash or wildflowers – the possibilities are endless :)

    2. I left a strawberry in a 1 gal. nursery pot in my shed this winter; it survived nicely. Still green in the spring. Gave it to my friend. (Zone 5)

  52. that is such a brilliant idea – I've been looking for a first project to tackle and this could be just the thing!

    thanks
    Richard

  53. I just love this idea and I think it is much better than the pyramid one I was going to make. Just wanted to ask if the plants can stay out in the winter in one of these? I live in Columbia, MO and our winters can get pretty cold.

    1. Hi Jayne, if you were concerned about freezing temperatures, maybe move your planter into a greenhouse over the winter. Since it would take a couple of very strong people to move it once it's filled, maybe you could think about attaching wheels to the feet area instead of the blocks?

  54. What a fabulous idea! I really like this as I have to create a new strawberry patch this year and this would free up a raised bed if I had a couple of these. Thank you xxx

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