Hello all my fellow readers…remember reading my last post and how it was in regards to details on how to construct a vertical garden bed with a recycled pallet or skid? Well, I am updating that post with new important information on a new blueprint design and a new updated photograph of the finished project.
Upon my construction sequences and after more research, I discovered that more steps can be taken in order to construct a “proper” vertical garden bed. In my first attempt, I told you, the readers, that after the pallet was affixed with filter fabric, the vertical garden bed was complete. Then the soil was to be added through the spaces in between the boards and then planted with flowers, herbs, or veggies. Then after 2 weeks, the vertical garden bed could be risen; once the plants fully root and lock in the potting soil, preventing the soil from leeching out. To some extent that is true, however, there is another way to make a vertical garden bed which is, in my opinion, a better way to do it.
The idea behind this new design is to line a vertical garden bed with filter fabric pockets along the bottoms of each plank of wood. By doing this, it creates “boxes” within the structure for one to plant flowers or herbs into rather easily and allow the product to stay vertical all the time. This design also uses less potting soil than the previous plan.
Part I: Materials
Materials Used in Construction
In order to construct a Vertical Garden Bed one should have:
- 1 to 2 Wooden Pallets (Skids)
- A Roll of Landscape Fabric (also called Filter Fabric/Weed Barrier), 4′ Height or larger
- Hammer & Nails
- Power-Drill & Matching Screws
- Drill Bits (for making holes in the wood)*
- Extra Recycled Lumber Planks/Sheets
- Staple Gun & Matching Staples
- 2 Cubic Feet of Organic Potting Soil (enough fill the pallet pockets at the end)
- Ruler and Marker (for measuring and marking)
- Skill Saw or Hand Saw (Cutting Additional Lumber)
- A Pair of Sharp Scissors
- Sand Paper or a Sander (Use Fine-Grain & Course-Grain Sand Papers)
- Hand Brush, Broom and Dust Pan
- Measuring Tape and Marker (Black)
- Cutting Knife
- Small, Very Flat Crow Bar (to remove wooden planks from the pallet)
- Safety Equipment: Dust Mask, Gloves, Safety Glasses.
Part II: Clean Up the Pallet, Sand it Down!
Use the Sand Paper or a Power Sander to smooth the pallet down and any additional lumber that may be used later on in this project. This will help to increase the products overall appeal and help to prevent splinters. Use the course grained paper to scratch out the loose wooden splinters on the planks. Then use the fine grained sand paper to make the planks smoother. After that, brush off any excess saw dust and splinters; keep the pallet and the work area clean. When doing this work, make sure to wear the dust mask and safety glasses. This step can be done at the end after all is said and done, but before flower or herb planting, because a large portion of the pallet will be covered by filter fabric anyway. The section that needs to be sanded down is the front side of the pallet, where the flowers and/or herbs will be showcased.
Part III: Affixing the Additional Recycled Lumber
Okay..First of all, designate one side of the pallet to be the front (where the flowers/herbs will be planted later on) and one side to be the back. Then designate on side to be the top and the other to be the bottom. The goal now is to completely cover the back side with the additional lumber, making it one solid piece (no gaps between the planks). For this step you will need to use the power saw or saw, measuring tape, markers, screws and power drill, etc. Please be careful when operating any power equipment and wear the appropriate safety equipment at this juncture; acquire some experience help if needed.
Part IV: Removing the Planks
A Wooden Pallet, Untouched…more or less
More often than not, a wooden pallet will be incomplete; meaning loosened planks, tight or broad plank spacing. This means that adjustments are to be made especially when the spacing between the planks on the front side is under 3″; unless ones hands are small, it will be difficult for one to plant the flowers or herbs in between the pallet spaces after all is said and done. Also, any other work to be done in the future steps of the project will be increasingly difficult. Take my word for it, I learned the hard way. Anyway, remove all but the top and bottom planks on the “front” side of the pallet. Later on, the spacing between to planks is to measure to be 3-4″ and then the planks are to be re-affixed to the pallet. Be careful, when using the crowbar; if not use properly, the wooden planks can crack. After the planks have been removed, set them aside for now and prepare for the next step.
Part V: Making Measurements
Please Examine the image above before continuing. Notice how only two planks remain on the “front” side of the pallet; one on top and one on the bottom. Also notice that the “back” side of the pallet is boarded up with planks and additional lumber. If your pallet looks similar to the one in the photograph above, then it is in good shape. Also, there is a bottom plank affixed at the top of the pallet; this is the base piece and can be attached later on. I advise one not to affix the base piece at this stage in the project.
Take the tape-measure and measure the length and the of from one side of the inside spacing to the other as seen in the photograph above. Then, measure the width of the inside spacing. Record the length and width. Take the recorded length and double it, then add another 4″. For example, if one measured 16″, then you double it to yield 32″, then add 4″, which makes the new calculated total to be 36″. Take the recorded width and add 1.5″ to that. The new set of numbers is important in the next step.
Part VI: Cutting Strips of Filter Fabric
Cutting the Filter Fabric into Individual Strips
Using ones own calculated measurements, cut out 8 or more strips of filter fabric. These strips are to be used in the next step.
Part VII: Affixing the Filter Fabric Stripes
Before applying the filter fabric, take the pallet and rotate it so that the designated “top” section is on the bottom and the designated “bottom” sections is on the top; turn the pallet upside down. I find it easier to work upside when affixing the filter fabric strips. Then, take one piece of the filter fabric strip, fold it in half, and affix it to the bottom as seen in the above photograph by using the staple gun and the appropriate staples (10mm staples are recommended). Folding the fabric in half will essentially double its strength and help hold a larger amount of soil more securely. Use the hammer to hit the staples in order to make sure that the staples seep all the way into the wood.
After affixing one set on both sides, take one of the planks, that was removed earlier, and screw it on the pallet, after spac
ing it 3″ or so from the bottom plank as seen in the photograph above. Then add another plank and continue this process until you reach the last plank of the pallet.
Part VIII: Attach the Base
Using an additional piece of lumber, cut and shape the piece so that it fits across the bottom of the pallet to serve as a base, as seen in the fourth photograph above. Use the screws and power drill to affix it in place. After that, take a drill bit of average size to drill 10 or so holes throughout the the base piece. This will allow water to drain out from the bottom of the vertical garden bed more easily and help to prevent root rot of one’s planted flowers or herbs. Also, sand down the area that was drilled.
Part IX: Applying the Landscape Fabric
Applying the Landscape Fabric Part I
The dark colored cloth in the photograph above is the landscape fabric. Using the scissors, cut the landscape fabric into a large enough piece so that it encompasses 4 out of the 6 sides of the pallet (think of the pallet as a cube) and enough that one can fold the fabric in half, as seen in the image above. Folding one large sheet in half, helps to strengthen the fabric overall which helps keep the soil in place.
Staple the Fabric, Fold The Corners!
Next step is to staple the fabric on the pallet using the staple gun. Don’t forget to fold the corners. Use ones “holiday wrapping skills” to create the folds as needed. Staple the fabric onto the back planks as well; this will help prevent potting soil from moving into the space between the pallet planks and the fabric. Also, when the stapling is complete, hammer in the all staples especially the ones that did not penetrate the wood all the way.
Part X: Marveling at The Finished Product
At this point in the project, the Vertical Garden Bed is now finished. All that is left to do is to add the organic potting soil in each of the pockets and then plant the flowers or herbs according to ones own style and the lighting condition of the area where the product now stands. I strongly recommend the use of Organic Potting Soil; if one cannot, for whatever reason, use organic potting soil, please do not plan on planting herbs or vegetables. Remember, “You Are What You Eat!” Anyway…Have Fun and Always Be Creative!
As noticed, the vertical garden bed in the photograph above is slightly darker brown in hue than it was in the first set of photographs. This is because I applied Natural Cedar Oil to the wood in order to preserve it and give it a longer outdoor life. This is optional however, and if one is to apply the oil or other wood preservatives then the all pieces of the wood must be coated. Apply the oils at the beginning of the project, after the planks have been removed. I enjoyed the results, it gave the wood more color. Make sure to use natural oils especially if one plans on planting herbs or vegetables.