This stunner of a project is going to cram in the herbs vertically to give you an at-hand supply of aromatic goodness whenever it’s needed, and at very low cost, using repurposed pallets. Read on or watch our video to find out how!
New To Using Pallets For Garden Projects?
I picked my pallets up from neighbors who were having work done to their house. Keep an eye out for pallets locally – people are often only too happy to be rid of them, though do ask first of course! You could also try builders’ merchants, hardware stores, or perhaps put a callout on social media.
Before using any pallets to grow edible plants, check out the pallet stamp, which tells you how the wood has been treated. It needs to include either the letters IPPC or EPAL, plus HT, which proves that the wood has been heat-treated and is safe to use. Most pallets fit the bill, but avoid pallets with MB on them, which indicates that it has been treated with the toxic pesticide methyl bromide – you don’t want that anywhere near your herbs!
Pallets are also great for other garden projects too – making compost bins, for instance.
Prepare Your Pallet Planter
The pallet will be positioned on its edge, with the herbs going into the spaces behind the boards. To give the plant roots more room to explore, detach some of the boards on the pallet, or use boards from a donor pallet. Re-attach them to your pallet planter to make each of your planting pockets two boards deep rather than just one. This will help the herbs to thrive rather than merely survive.
The easiest way to remove boards is with a short, sharp blow to the back with a hammer. Line up the removed boards with the existing ones on your pallet planter, then nail them on.
The pallet is nearly ready for the planting pockets to be added, but first paint it with a non-toxic, weatherproof wood stain to preserve it for longer and make it look smart. Get it in all the nooks and crannies with your brush – no cutting corners!
Once the wood stain has fully dried, a nice touch is to add some chalkboard paint panels so you can chalk on the name of each herb. Stick on masking tape first to define the shape of the label panels and get sharp, clean edges. For the best finish, you may need to apply two or even three coats to make the chalked-on names really stand out. Let the coats dry in between, then once you’re done, carefully peel off the masking tape.
Pallet Planter Pockets
Next you need to add your planting pockets, otherwise any potting mix you add is just going to fall straight through. You could box them in with extra boards, but I reckon that using landscape fabric is a lot easier. This stuff is strong, and also permeable so excess moisture can drain out of the bottom.
Cut the landscape fabric to size so that it easily covers the full depth and width of the planting pocket with a little to spare. Use either a staplegun or small nails to pin the fabric into position. Begin along the front, folding the edge of fabric under to give a clean, straight edge and to stop it from fraying. If there’s any excess fabric just fold it in, then secure the sides and finally the back.
Plant Your Pallet Herb Garden
It’s time to plant! You can use living herbs from the grocery store – parsley and mint are reliable for replanting like this – or from the garden center. Many herbs can be started from seed or cuttings, or by dividing existing plants, and if you want to keep costs down these are great ways to start your herb planter. Check out our video Start a Herb Garden on a Budget for more on this.
Grow herbs that like the same sort of growing conditions together in each planting pocket. Fleshier, leafy herbs like parsley, mint, and cilantro grow well together in an all-purpose, peat-free potting mix, while aromatic Mediterranean-type herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage prefer a really free-draining growing medium. All-purpose potting mix with a few handfuls of this lightweight perlite or grit added will work well for these.
Chalk on the names of your herbs for the final finishing touch. Your herb planter can be replanted as and when needed, and the chalk easily wipes off to write on the next herb’s name. Keep it in a sunny spot for maximum growth and to stimulate all those heady aromas.
Got any questions about making this herb pallet planter? Drop us a comment below!