How to Build a Planter Box from Pallets

Pallets are fairly easy to come by, and they make for a cheap or free source of wood for things like planters. When choosing a pallet, make sure to read the label first; avoid ones that are marked with “MB,” as that means they’ve been chemically treated. “HT” just means it’s been heat treated, which is fine for a planter. You can try a simple project where you just staple garden fabric onto the bottom of a pallet to enclose it. You can also cut a pallet into sections and then reassemble it into a planter. Alternatively, you can take the pallet apart altogether to assemble it into a planter.


[Edit]Creating a Basic Planter with Garden Fabric

  1. Scrub down the pallet if it’s dirty and sand any rough edges. Use a bit of dish soap dissolved in water to scrub it down with a sturdy brush. Rinse it off with a hose. Once it dries enough that it doesn’t feel rough to the touch, use heavy sandpaper to smooth down any edges that are too splintery.[1]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • Sanding the edges isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will keep you from picking up as many splinters in your hands.
    • You can find free pallets at may retail locations, such as pet stores, farm and tractor stores, liquor stores, and even schools. You might also find them at construction sites. Always ask before taking a pallet. Also, never take a pallet that’s marked with “Property of…” or a company name. You can also purchase pallets at home improvement stores.
  2. Cut garden fabric to fit the back and sides of the pallet. Turn the pallet over and lay the garden fabric out over the back. Cut it large enough to completely cover the back, leaving enough room to go up the sides of the pallet, too, to help keep the soil in.[2]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • The “back” of the pallet will be the side that has the most slats. You want the openings on the front/top of the pallet.
    • “Garden fabric” is also called “weed barrier” fabric, as it’s meant to suppress weeds when you layer it over an area. You can find it at most home improvement stores and garden centers.
  3. Staple the fabric to the back of the pallet, starting on the outer edges. On the back of the pallet, place a staple in the middle of one side of the pallet. Stretch it out and put a staple in the middle on the opposite side. Do the same for the other 2 sides and then fill in the rest of the edges with staples, stretching it a little as you do.[3]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 3 Version 3.jpg
    • You don’t need to stretch it very taut, but you should try to tighten it a little so it doesn’t have too much slack.
  4. Attach the fabric to the sides with a staple gun. Flip the pallet over. Pull the fabric up each side. Staple it in place near the top of each side. At the corners, fold the fabric flat into a triangle shape and lay it flat against the pallet to staple it in place.[4]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 4 Version 3.jpg
    • If you need to, trim off the fabric around the top edge.
  5. Fill the planter with soil and put your plants in the soil. Dump the soil in, working around the planks as you go. Add plants to each section of the planter by digging small holes and inserting the plants. Cover the bottom of the plants and then water the soil thoroughly.[5]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 5 Version 3.jpg
    • Make sure you have the planter where you want it before adding the soil or watering it.

[Edit]Making a Planter from Pallet Sections

  1. Cut a pallet into thirds. Start with a pallet that has 6, 9, or 12 planks across the front, as that will make it easier to cut into thirds. For instance, if it has 9 planks, cut between the third and fourth plank and then the 6th and 7th plank. Use a hand saw or jigsaw to cut down the center between the planks. You’ll need to cut through each cross board on the front.[6]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 6 Version 3.jpg
    • Once you’re done, flip it over and cut it in the same places on the back.
    • Pull the pallet apart into thirds. You should have 2 side pieces and 1 middle piece.
  2. Pull off the small slats on the back of the side pieces. When you flip the side pieces over, you should see small slats sticking out from the long piece of wood. Use a hammer to pry the slats off gently as you want to keep them intact. Wedge the claw under the edge of the wood that’s still attached and use the hammer to leverage the piece off.[7]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 7 Version 3.jpg
    • As you go along, hammer in any nails that are sticking up so they’re flat against the boards.
  3. Remove the planks and wooden blocks from the center piece. On the back of the center piece, you should see square wooden blocks with small planks on top. Use your hammer to wedge these pieces off, keeping the wooden blocks intact as you go.[8]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • You may need to use a chisel to wedge the wooden blocks off the center piece.
    • Continue to flatten any nails you see sticking up by hammering them into place.
  4. Cut off the edges of the planks that stick out on the center piece. When looking at the center piece, you should see 3 long boards (if you started with a pallet that had 9 planks) and smaller boards running perpendicularly across the long boards. The small boards likely extend over the edges of the long boards so trim them off with a handsaw or jigsaw so they’re flush with the edges of the long boards.[9]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 9 Version 3.jpg
  5. Remove the “feet” from the boards you laid to the side with a splitting wedge. You set aside planks with wooden blocks on them earlier. Place a splitting wedge between the board and the wooden blocks. Drive a sledge hammer against the end of the edge to cut the nails between the blocks and boards.[10]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 10 Version 3.jpg
    • If you want to skip this step, you could just screw the boards onto the bottom of the planter with the blocks still attached.
    • A splitting wedge is a tool that’s cut into a wedge shape. You place the sharp end between 2 things you want to separate, then hit the broad end with a sledge hammer.
  6. Screw or nail the middle piece into the side pieces. Turn the middle piece over. Set the side pieces across from each other up so that the wooden blocks are on the inside and at the top of the boards, while you prop the middle piece on top, which will become the bottom piece. This part will be a little difficult to balance as you need to prop it up and screw it in at the same time. Line the middle piece up with the wooden blocks from the sides and screw or nail them into place.[11]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 11 Version 3.jpg
    • Place 2-3 screws or nails through the bottom piece into each of the the wooden blocks.
    • Turn the planter right-side up!
  7. Place the leftover planks on the ends to make the other sides. You should have a u-shaped planter with the ends still open. Place the leftover planks on the ends, lining them up with the side boards. Screw them into place on top of the side and bottom boards. You may need to cobble together a couple of pieces to form 2 of the planks on the side.[12]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 12 Version 3.jpg
  8. Screw the feet in at an angle. Turn the planter over again. Place the wooden blocks at the corners of the planters. Angle 2 3-inch (8 cm) screws on each foot so they go through the side of the feet and into the bottom of the planter. Drill the screws into each wooden block to hold the feet in place.[13]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 13.jpg
    • Turn the planter back over.
    • To finish the planter, add a layer of chicken wire or garden fabric to the inside of the planter, which will keep the soil inside. You may want to staple the fabric in place so that it doesn’t move around too much.

[Edit]Creating a Planter from Pallet Boards

  1. Decide how big you want your planter to be. If you want a square box, you could use pieces, along with skinnier pieces for a frame. If you want a rectangle, you’ll need some longer pieces and some shorter pieces. However, you should decide ahead of time so you can judge how you want to cut the pallet as you pull it apart.[14]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 14.jpg
    • If you wanted a rectangle, you could use pieces for 2 sides and for the other sides.
  2. Take the pallet apart until you have planks and wooden blocks. Use the claw end of the hammer to wedge apart all the boards until you have completely taken the pallet apart. With some boards, you may need to use a splitting wedge and a mallet. Push the splitting wedge in between the boards and hit the end with the mallet.[15]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 15.jpg
    • If you’re not going to use the full length of the boards, you can simply saw off the ends of the pallet to make the boards easier to remove. That way, you’ll only need to wedge the boards off in the middle.[16]
  3. Build the base with 2 longer planks and several shorter planks. Lay out 2 long planks parallel to each other. Aim for lengths of that are about the same size as your longest side, such as , plus the width of the wood. Across the planks, lay out smaller planks that are equal in length to your shortest side, such as . Place the smaller planks up against each other so they form a solid base for your planter. Leave a space on each edge of the long planks that’s about the width of the wood, as you’ll build up the sides off that area.[17]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 16.jpg
    • Nail the smaller boards onto the longer boards.
  4. Begin building the walls up. When putting your side walls in place, try to offset them at the corners. That is, when setting down 1 plank on its side, it should go all the way to the corner edge on one end but leave just enough space on the other end for the next side to come all the way into that corner. Nail the pieces into the base, as you should have left enough space that the boards sink down a little and you can nail it in from the side at an angle.[18]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 17.jpg
  5. Put in corner posts to stabilize your work. Place a small piece of wood in each corner of the box and nail them into the bottom with your nails at an angle. You may need to cut a board in half to get a smaller piece of wood.[19]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 18.jpg
    • These posts will provide something for you to nail into as you build your walls up.
  6. Continue building the walls up. As you build up, continue to offset the boards but alternate which board goes to the corner on each layer. For instance, if a shorter side goes all the way to the corner on one layer, the longer side should go all the way to that corner on the next layer. As you make your walls, nail them into the corner posts and into each other at the sides, creating a stable structure.[20]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 19.jpg
    • You can make your walls as high as you want, but you probably shouldn’t go more than 3-4 planks high as it will get unwieldy.
  7. Sand and paint your planter as desired. Use heavy sandpaper to sand the rough edges of your planter down. You can use a power sander if you’d like. After that, you can leave the planter as is or you can add a thin coat of paint to it for decoration.[21]
    Build a Planter Box from Pallets Step 20.jpg

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Creating a Basic Planter with Garden Fabric

  • Pallet
  • Staple gun
  • Garden fabric
  • Scissors
  • Garden soil
  • Gloves

[Edit]Making a Planter from Pallet Sections

  • Handsaw or jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Gloves
  • Mallet
  • Splitting wedge
  • Drill
  • 1-5/8 inch (4 cm) screws
  • 3 inch (8 cm) screws
  • Chicken wire
  • Garden fabric

[Edit]Creating a Planter from Pallet Boards

  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Nail gun, optional
  • Wood nails


[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary


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