Pallet planters

Wooden delivery pallets are easy to find and make sturdy planters to brighten up your garden, balcony or yard.  Used stood on their edge they take up very little room on the ground but create an eye catching and practical vertical planter.

Materials needed

  • Wooden pallet
  • Sandpaper or powered sander
  • Saw (if you want to change the shape of the pallet)
  • Garden paint (if you want to add colour) – Ronseal or Cuprinol are great
  • Acrylic paint pens (if you want to add decoration or words) – Posca pens work well
  • Landscape membrane
  • Staple gun (drawing pins and a hammer could do the job too)
  • Compost and plants

Pallet planter instructions

Pallets come in all shapes, sizes and conditions.  Look around to see what’s available; making sure that the wood is sound.  Skips and building sites are a good source of pallets, but ask before you take!

Choose, dry and sand down your pallet

Choose, dry and sand down your pallet

If it’s not already completely dry, put your pallet somewhere dry and warm to thoroughly dry out before you start work on it.    When the wood is dry, use coarse sandpaper or a powered sander to smooth down the surface of the wood and remove any splinters.  Most pallets are made of treated wood that can withstand outdoor use.  Leaving the wood in its treated state with create a natural, rustic look to your container.  But you may want to stain or paint yours to make it more unique or fit with your garden’s colour scheme.

Using a saw you can also remove some sections of wood to create separate planting troughs in the pallet or reduce the size of the pallet.  Once you have sanded smooth any raw edges you can paint the wood with an outdoor garden paint.  Have a look online and you will find a wider range of paint shades available than in a typical DIY centre.

Use a saw to change the pallet shape and paint, if wanted

Use a saw to change the pallet shape and paint, if wanted

When the paint is dry you will be ready to create planting pockets in the pallet.  Cut landscaping membrane to roughly fit the planting pocket and then staple it to the wood using a staple gun (if you don’t have a staple gun drawing pins and a hammer can also do the job).  Remember to leave plenty of depth for the pocket so you can fit in compost and the plant roots.





If you want to use a whole pallet for planting, fit a large piece a membrane into each half of the pallet stapling it so there is a pocket at the bottom, back and sides but leave the front (where the slats are) open for planting.

Stapling membrane into a full pallet planter

Stapling membrane into a full pallet planter

Finishing and planting your pallet planter

Add words or patterns to finish decorating your pallet planter and then plant up with a multipurpose compost, small plants or herbs.  You can also plant small bulbs for spring colour.

Pallet planter paint options

Pallet planter paint options

If you are planting up a whole pallet, start at the bottom and use the gaps to feed the plant roots through into the compost.Planting up a full pallet

Planting up a full pallet

Planting ideas

  • For winter colour you can use primulas, violas and pansies with small trailing ivies and small daffodil, crocus or tulip bulbs planted in the top of the pallet.
  • Evergreen Sempervirens will thrive in pallets as they are well drained; in the winter they keep their leaf colour and in the summer they will flower as well.
  • In the spring and summer try small edible plants such as lettuce, spinach, strawberries and kale.
  • Most herbs will be happy in pallet planters, though mint will quickly outgrow its space after a year.

More creative containers

If you’d like more ideas for unusual outdoor plant containers come along to one of my workshops.

For indoor containers see my other blog on terrariums.