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Maximize patio space with a DIY wheeled pallet planter. You can roll it into and out of areas and keep the sun shining on it all day.
Barren concrete areas seem like such a waste of space to me. For years, I’ve tried to use these areas by breaking them up with dozens of potted plants. One of the issues I find though is that larger containers are difficult to move around. Sometimes to rearrange them, but one of the main reasons I created this wheeled pallet planter is so I could wheel it both into and out of the sun. Often, paved areas close to the house get some sun, but the amount can change based on the time of day or year.
Using wheels has enabled me to create a large planter that greens up gray spaces, is easy to move, and is perfect for those who have small or partially-sunny gardens. It’s also great for renters! What’s to stop you from gardening if you’re not impacting the land at your rented home and can take the planter with you when you move?
How to Make a Wheeled Pallet Planter
These are the materials you’ll need to create a wheeled pallet planter. Some are optional. The tools for the project are listed below too.
- Two wooden pallets
- 4 Planks to create the sides
- Slug & Snail Copper Tape Barrier (optional)
- 4-5 Rubber Wheel Plate Casters
- Jigsaw or handsaw
- Drill or hammer
- Splitting wedge and hammer
- 4 cm (1-5/8″) screws and 8 cm (3″) screws
Step 1: Source Pallets
Not all pallets are suitable for DIY projects. That’s because some of them have been treated with chemicals to keep insects from hitching a ride. Pallets are used to transport goods across borders, so it’s important that pests are kept where they belong.
When sourcing pallets for this project, ensure they’re the same or that the planks on the facing side are the same dimensions. Also, look for a stamp on the side of the pallets and search for the initials DB HT. If you find DB MB, then keep clear because it’s been treated with the insecticide Methyl Bromide. You don’t want this chemical killing off beneficial insects in your garden, and you especially don’t want it for projects inside the home.
Pallet Projects for the Garden
Step 2: Create the Base
The planter’s base is one entire front side of a pallet, so you’ll need to take all the wood on the back side off. I use a splitting wedge and hammer/mallet to do this. If you place the wedge in the seam between one piece of wood and the next, then hammer in, the wedge should cut through the nails that hold the pieces together. Sometimes, pieces will just pull off though, so if you have any long nails sticking out, flatten them with your hammer.
Step 3: Fill in the gaps on your base with planks
Remove the facing planks from your second pallet and use them to fill in the gaps on your base. Use the method described in step two to do this, and make sure there’s still a little space between the planks for water drainage.
Step 4: Structure for the sides
As you see in the above image, some of the wood you pull off in step two will be solid square blocks. You can use these whole, but if you want to increase your growing space and create a nicer-looking planter, saw two of them in half diagonally. Next, flip your pallet bottom over and drill these into the four corners with your 8cm/3″ screws or nails. They should be screwed in on the ugly side of the base rather than the one you’ve just fixed the planks onto.
Step 5: Create the sides of the Planter
Using your four planks, create sides for your planter. Screw them in (with the 1-5/8″ screws or nails) to the four blocks at the corner and all along the base for extra support. The more, the better because you don’t want the base sagging under the weight of everything inside.
For my solution, I’ve gone for the rather shallow depth of five inches, but yours could be deeper. Just remember that the higher you build the sides, the more soil you can put in the planter and the more stability you’ll need for that weight.
The dimensions of my planks are:
2 planks sized: 41″ x 7/8″ x 5″
2 planks sized: 46-3/4″ x 7/8″ x 5″
Step 7: Attach the Wheels
The 4″ wheels I used are the types you find on shopping trolleys. They’re made of stainless steel parts with a rubber wheel and the ability to swivel around. If there were another thing I’d have done differently with this project, it would have been putting a fifth wheel in the centre. It would have given more support for the entire pallet, and I plan to add one to my own after I get a few crops out of the soil in my planter now.
Step 8: Add Potting Mix
Pallet wood isn’t made to last, and you shouldn’t be expecting this pallet to be around for more than five years (saying that, my strawberry pallet planter is still going strong in its third season). If you’d like to see it last that long or longer, line your planter with heavy-duty plastic before you fill it in with compost. Stapled or pinned in at the sides, it will protect the wood and also help retain water. Being so shallow, the potting mix will dry out easily, so it’s up to you as to whether you want to puncture the bottom for drainage. I went for just a few slits in the plastic where I could feel gaps between planks.
The compost you use to fill the planter should be moisture-retaining and suitable for whatever plants you grow inside. It takes about 100 L of compost, so buy in bulk at your garden center, or better yet, use garden compost and well-rotted farmyard manure. Trim the plastic after you fill the planter with compost.
Step 9: Add Plants and Sow Seeds
Pre-water the potting mix and then plant your plants and sow your seeds. Water again lightly after sowing. This planter is suitable for shallow-rooted greens and vegetables, and I’ve sown mine with radishes, spinach, small round carrots (Paris Market), cilantro (coriander), and a lettuce mix. I’ve added marigolds to help deter garden pests and have edged the planter with a copper tape barrier. Copper is a natural way to keep slugs and snails out of your planters.