My mom wanted to grow some veggies in her desert backyard. A friend of ours needed to dispose of a pallet from a recent furniture order. So I decided to build my mom a pallet raised garden bed, DIY-style!
Why a Raised Pallet Garden?
A friend of ours was getting their new nursery room ready before she gave birth to her first child. She ordered two 8-foot tall cabinets to store all the baby’s supplies, and the delivery truck dropped them off on two large wooden pallets that were nearly 10 feet long by almost 4 feet wide.
She wanted to dispose of the pallets, and since I’ve got a van and a habit for turning old junk into new stuff she gave us a call. Free large wooden pallets? Yes, please! I drove over to pick up the used wood shipping pallets right away. :)
Dimensions for Wood Pallet Garden Bed
Before getting to the dimensions, the shipping pallet needs to be taken apart so you know what pieces can really be used — since the used pallet wood can chip or break during transit and disassembly. I found the easiest way separate a wooden pallet is using a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade. Slide the reciprocating saw blade between the pallet boards to cut each nail individually. It goes really fast once you get the hang of it and soon you’ll be left with a bunch of rustic-looking individual boards — perfect for your raised bed garden!
SAFETY FIRST: Don’t forget your work gloves and safety goggles!
Since I had my hands on a 10-foot long wooden pallet, I knew I could make a pretty long garden bed. After measuring the back yard space at my mom’s house, and considering the quality of the disassembled pallet wood, I cut each of the long boards into smaller pieces of 5 feet and 2 feet each with my cordless circular saw. I also cut the 2×4 support pieces at 18 inches each, since those would be used for the side supports and allow the box to be 1-1/2 feet high.
Those cuts created total wood pallet pieces of:
- 8 flat boards at 5 feet long — the long sides
(from the top & bottom of the pallet)
- 8 flat boards at 2 feet long — the short sides
(from the top & bottom of the pallet)
- 6 boards (2×4 size) at 18 inches long — for the inside of the box
(these were the support beams within the pallet)
Assembling the Wood Pallet Pieces for the Raised Bed Garden Box
Each pallet wood garden box will be slightly different, since the wood itself isn’t perfect and your space may be larger or smaller than what I’m showing here. Use this how-to make a raised garden box article as a rough guideline and let me know how you modified your project in the comments below!
The keys to make your project go smoothly:
- Lay out your pieces and arrange them for each side before assembling.
- Use your Combination Square to make sure the 18-inch 2×4 boards are lined up nice and square with the long, flat side boards before you attach them together.
- Screw through the flat boards into the fatter 2×4 boards. You’ll be screwing from the outside face of the boards into the 2x4s underneath. So the view you’ll see as you screw through is the opposite of this one:
Once you’ve got all the long sides assembled, you’ll need to stand one of them on end to start attaching the thin boards for the short sides.
Use your combination square to line things up, then screw through the short flat boards into the ends of the 2x4s you’ve already screwed into the long sides. The first one will be a bit awkward, but once the first few screws are in place the others will be easy.
Funny enough, because of the space my mom had available and the huge wood pallets I started with, I ended up with some leftover ends of the flat wooden pallet boards. I set those aside and used those extra boards to make a wooden stencil sign. As you know, I love reusing those leftovers!
Filling the Pallet Garden Bed with Soil
Out here in the western United States, the best soil I’ve found for raised garden beds is Kellogg Garden Organics Raised Bed and Potting Mix. As I’m writing this post, the raised bed soil is about $8.00 for each 2 cubic foot bag at Home Depot.
You can calculate how many bags of soil you’ll need with this simple formula:
length x width x height = cubic feet
Remember that the soil will settle a bit in the first couple weeks so you might need a bit more than you think. I like to estimate for about 1 extra cubic foot of raised bed garden soil. And if I still have some leftover garden soil after the raised bed has settled…then I have a good excuse to pot up some more plants!
PRO TIP: Line the empty bottom of the raised garden bed with cardboard before you add the soil. Just remove all tape and labels from the cardboard first and it will help conserve water while decomposing naturally over time.
Planting the Raised Bed Pallet Garden
My mom wanted a variety of veggies in her raised garden bed, so I grabbed peas, lettuce, cilantro, and even some strawberries from Home Depot when I bought the soil. There was even more room for plants than I expected!
Once the vegetables were planted, I tapped in to the automatic sprinkler system and added drip irrigation to the raised garden bed. Automatic sprinklers aren’t required but they’re sure handy in the desert heat where my mom lives.
Now my mom can walk out to the back yard and grab some yummy food she’s grown herself. She loves adding her own fresh veggies to her tasty recipes like Hamburger Vegetable Soup that she posts on her own website, What’s Wendy Cooking.
Are you looking for more creative plant labels than the standard plastic ones that come from the nursery? We’ve got a couple pretty neat ideas to make your plant labels stand out! Check out our articles on DIY Garden Markers using Stencils and a Cricut Explore and How to Make Wood Slice Garden Markers.
If you make your own version of the raised garden bed or have ideas for DIY plant labels, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or share links to your pics in the comments below — we’d love to see your creations!