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This pallet planter creates more patio growing space
Barren concrete areas seem like such a waste of space to me. For years, the way I’ve tried to make use of these areas is 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. You might want to just 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 times, paved areas close to the house get some sun but the amount can change based on time of day or time of the year.
Great for renters and smaller patios
Using wheels has enabled me to create a large planter that greens up grey spaces, is easy to move, is perfect for those who have small or partially-sunny gardens, and for those who are renting. What’s to stop you from gardening if you can take it with you?
How to make a Wheeled Pallet Planter
Materials needed for one planter
Two wooden pallets that have been heat treated rather than chemically treated
4 Planks to create the sides (measurements for mine are below)
Slug & Snail Copper Tape Barrier (optional)
4-5 Rubber Wheel Plate Casters or for UK residents 75mm Rubber Swivel Castor Wheels
Fence paint (optional)
Tools needed for this project
Hand Saw or Jigsaw
Electric Drill or Hammer
Splitting Wedge and Hammer
4 cm (1-5/8″) Screws and 8cm (3″) Screws
OR 4 cm (1-5/8″) Nails and 8cm (3″) nails This assortment should do
Step 1: Source your Pallets
Not all pallets are suitable for diy projects 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 you’re sourcing pallets for this project, make sure 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.
If you’re wondering where to get pallets, look in an industrial estate near you. On the Isle of Man pallets are easy to come by since they cost more to send back to the mainland than to dispose of.
Step 2: Create the Base
The base of the planter is one entire front side of a pallet which means 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 off of 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
Some of the wood you pull off in step two will be solid square blocks like you see in the above image. 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 your Planter
Using your four planks, create sides for your planter. Screw them in (with the 1-5/8″ screws or nails) to not only the four blocks at the corner but 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″
*Yours might be different so please measure twice then cut once.
Step 6: Paint the Planter (optional)
If you’ve decided to paint your planter, now is the time to do it. My planter is painted just on the sides and a little of the way down the inside. In my opinion, there’s no need to paint the bottom or places that won’t be visible.
Step 7: Attach the Wheels
The 4″ wheels I used are the type meant for shopping trolleys and are made of stainless steel parts with a rubber wheel and the ability to swivel around. I’ve found similar ones on Amazon but the ones I purchased are these that are available in the UK: 75mm Rubber Swivel Castor Wheels.
Also, if there were another thing that I’d have done differently with this project it would have been to put a fifth wheel in the very centre. It would have given more support for the entire pallet and I plan on adding one to my own after I get a few crops out of the soil that’s in my planter now.
Step 8: Add soil and compost
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 it’s 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 contents 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 litres of compost so buy in bulk at your garden centre, or better yet, use garden compost and well-rotted farmyard manure. Trim the plastic after you fill the planter with compost.
Step 9: Add your seeds and plants
Sow your seeds directly into the planter in drills or whatever design you like. It’s better to pre-water the compost before you do this and to create markers to show what you’ve sown and where. 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 Slug and Snail Copper Tape Barrier. Copper is a natural way to keep slugs and snails out of your planters.
To help even retain water even further, and to minimise weeding, add a layer of fine horticultural grit to the top of your compost after the seeds are sown. Your plants will grow right on through but it will stop wind-blown seeds from making their way into your soil.