Saturday, July 8, 2017

How to Make a Vertical Pallet Garden for Shade

This spring when I came home with a bunch of free leftover shade plants after working at our garden club's annual plant sale, I knew just what I wanted to do.

shady pallet garden!
We've had a stack of pallets sitting in our basement, and I've been toying with the idea of making a pallet garden out of one for awhile.  We had a bare wall by our patio that really could use some livening up, and a pallet garden was perfect.  Now that I had the plants, it was time!

Here is what I did to make my pallet garden:

Step 1:  Painting.
I chose to spray paint the pallet black, since I really wanted to showcase the plants.

I only wanted four rows of plants (no plants on the very bottom), and I wanted to be able to put taller plants in my pallet garden, so this pallet that I had was perfect.  (If you want to recreate this garden and your pallet has too many boards on the front, you will need to pry some of the boards off.)

Step 2:  Make pockets for the soil and plants.
I made 8 pockets in total, since there's a board running through the middle of the pallet, and I made them out of landscaping fabric.  For each pocket, I cut the landscaping fabric slightly longer than the pocket would end up.

I then folded the landscaping fabric up so that the pockets would be a double thickness of fabric.  I then folded it up in half again (same way) to make a double-thick pocket.

I then stapled most of the way down each side.

To give the pocket more of a bottom, I then flattened the bottom part and stapled it flat on each side, like so:

Thus the bottom should make a 'Y' shape, and each side of your pocket should end up looking like this:

the bottom of the pocket
Now for the magic: turn the pocket inside out (or should I say 'right side out'?)

making a pocket for a pallet garden
Tada!  It should look like a (double-thick) pocket now.

Step 3:  Stuff the pockets inside the pallet and staple them all around the inside with a staple gun.

(This is easier said than done, as it takes a loooot of stapling.  You want those pockets secure!)

Step 4: Fill with dirt and plant!

My pallet garden is leaning against the wall on the north side of my house, and it is also under a deck, so I used plants that would do well in the shade.  I used the plants I happen to have, which included: white and red Wax Begonias, Astilbe, Variegated Solomon's Seal, Epimediums, golden Creeping Jenny, golden Japanese Forest Grass, and a couple ferns that I scrounged from my shade garden.

I have to thank my mother-in-law for giving me a whole tray of Wax Begonias that she had bought and didn't need, as they really add great pops of color in the pallet garden.

I'm so happy with how it turned out!  We'll see how it ages through the summer.  I'm really hoping to overwinter some of the perennials for next year, too, so we'll see how that goes.

Happy gardening!


  1. Looks great - nice job! You are a very handy sort of gardener.

  2. Very impressive! Love the colors, they're set off perfectly by the black and sure do make the shady spot look bright.

    1. Thanks! I was really glad I had some golden-toned plants. I hope those fill in some, as they really brighten it up along with the white and red.

  3. What a great idea! I look forward to seeing the plants get bigger and fill out the pallet.

    1. Me too! It will look even better if the plants fill in a bit. Here's hoping!

  4. A great idea beautifully executed! I love the fact that the only tools necessary are a couple of staplers! Geeze, now I'll be watching for the free pallets by the side of the road that I often see when I don't want them. Stunning!

    1. Thanks! It didn't take too long to make, either, other than lots of stapling :)

  5. It is beautiful! And what a great idea to paint it black.

    1. The black fabric pockets blend in more nicely, too, with the pallet being black. I didn't plan on that, but it worked out well!

  6. The Variegated Solomon's Seal is so striking against the black paint. Painting the pallet made your garden look more finished and less up-cycled than many pallet projects. We're in the process of making a flat pallet garden to house some daylily seedlings. We'll have a few extras and maybe our fence could use a little dressing up with a vertical garden.

    1. Very nice! There are so many creative uses for pallets that I've seen lately. What a great use of one to make a little bed for your seedlings, too.

  7. Beautiful, and excellent instructions! I like how the black complements the bright colors of the plants. Well done!


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