How to Make a Simple Pallet Planter

Planter made of pallet boxes mixed with different greens and flowers in backyard

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $30 to $40

Wood pallets lend themselves perfectly to building planters. When flat, they look just like what they are: wooden platforms. But when set upright and turned backward, they're ready to be converted into three-tier, wall-mounted planters for trailing plants, flowers, or herbs.

This is a fun, fast, and easy project that you can build from a pallet or two in just a couple of hours. Because so much of the planter is already in place, the building is kept to a minimum, allowing you to devote more time to decorating the planter.

How You'll Make a Pallet Planter

When you stand a pallet on end and look at it from the back, you will notice that a number of the horizontal boards line up with each other: one in front, one in back. These will become the walls of the planter boxes—already built.

Since these planter boxes have no bottoms, it's up to you to nail a few boards in place.

After that, staple landscape fabric on the insides of the planter boxes and the back of the pallet to prevent soil from spilling out. Decorate the pallet, add soil and plants, and you're done.

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Basic Wood Pallet Components

  • Top Deck Boards: Pallets that are 48 inches by 40 inches usually have seven top deck boards and 30-inch by 30-inch pallets have five top deck boards. After conversion to a pallet planter, the top deck boards will form the planter's front wall.
  • Bottom Deck Boards: On the bottom are five deck boards for the larger 40-inch pallets and three deck boards for the smaller 30-inch pallets. As a pallet planter, the bottom deck boards will form the backs of individual planter boxes.
  • Stringers: Stringers are the two-by-fours that run perpendicular to the top and bottom deck boards. There will be two side stringers and one center stringer. As a pallet planter, the stringers will form the sides of individual planter boxes.
Materials and tools to make a pallet planter

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hammer
  • Staple gun
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Gardening tools
  • Paint brush/roller (optional)
  • Drill (optional)

Materials

  • 2 wood pallets
  • 2 one-by-sixes, each 8-foot (optional)
  • Galvanized nails
  • Landscape fabric
  • Potting soil
  • Pea gravel or drainage rocks (optional)
  • Plants
  • Paint or other coating (optional)
  • One-by-fours (as needed)

Instructions

  1. Repair, Replace, or Remove Deck Boards

    Repair or replace any missing or damaged top or bottom deck boards. It's best to replace them with deck boards from a second pallet to match the size, color, and texture. If you do not have a second pallet available for parts, use one-by-four lumber.

    If the pallet has multiple boards close together on the top deck, remove some of them using the hammer to create space between slats, saving the wood you remove to be used later. We recommend removing every other slat, keeping the slat at the top and the one at the bottom.

    Pallet deck boards replaced to create space in slats

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  2. Remove Nails

    Using the hammer, remove any exposed nails from the removed slats and dispose of them.

    Hammer removing nails from pallet boards

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  3. Turn Pallet

    Turn the pallet vertically on one side, with the bottom deck boards facing you. Orient the pallet with the deck boards running horizontally (or parallel to the ground) and the stringers running parallel to you.

    Pallet turned vertically on side with bottom deck boards in front

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  4. Add Interior Slats

    Insert the boards you removed into the center of the pallet, lining up each board with a remaining slat on the top and placing the boards parallel to the ground. (These will form the bottoms of the boxes.) The slats should rest on the interior stringers. Together, the top slat and the just-added board should form a sort of box shape. If necessary, you can use wood from another pallet or one-by-four lumber instead of the slats you removed.

    Nail the slats in place using the galvanized nails and a hammer. If desired, you can pre-drill the holes.

    Warning

    Enlist the help of an assistant or some sort of brace to keep the pallet upright and stable while you work.

    Removed boards lined up in center of pallet

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  5. Lay the Pallet Down

    Lay the pallet down, with the top flat against the ground and the bottom facing up.

    Flat part of pallet laid down

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  6. Add Back Slats

    Nail one more slat (either removed from the top, from another pallet, or pieces of one-by-four lumber) to the bottom of the pallet, lining it up with the sideways slat you secured in the middle of the planter in step four. If necessary, add back slats to the top and bottom planters, too, though they may already be in place, depending on the style of your pallet. You should now have three finished planter boxes.

    Back slats hammered to pallet

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  7. Finish Wood

    Sand the wood to remove any rough spots.

    Depending on the type of look you want, you can also stain or paint the pallet planter. Staining the wood highlights contrasts in the wood and brings out the grain.

    If you decide to paint the wood, first prime the wood. Pallet wood is usually a lower grade Southern yellow pine or oak, which quickly soaks up the paint.

    Wood on pallet sanded down before staining

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  8. Staple Landscape Fabric

    Set the pallet upright again, with the top facing you and the planter boxes you've formed facing upward. Line the inside of each of the planter boxes with landscape fabric, stapling it in place.

    Cut off a section of landscape fabric large enough to cover the entire back of the pallet. Staple it into place from the outside.

    Tip

    You may want to drill drainage holes into your planters. If so, drill a few small holes in the bottom of each planter box before you add the landscape fabric.

    Inside of pallet planter box lined with black landscape fabric and stapled in place

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  9. Place the Pallet

    Once the coating is dry, stand the pallet upright and lean it against a wall, with the side covered in landscape fabric against the wall. Or, drive screws through the bottoms of the top deck boards to attach the planter to an exterior wall if you want it attached. You can even mount the pallet high on a sturdy wall for a wall planter, if desired.

    If you prefer to leave the planter standing on its own, ensure it's stable. If necessary, add wedges or stabilizers to the base to keep it upright.

    Warning

    Once the soil and plants are added, the planter will be very heavy. Make sure you have it positioned where you want it and stable or securely fastened to the wall before moving to the next steps.

    Wood pallet standing upright in middle of backyard

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  10. Add Soil

    Add potting soil to the planter boxes.

    Tip

    You can add the pea gravel or drainage rocks to your planter boxes before you add the soil to increase drainage.

    Potting soil added in between pallet boards next to pots and plants

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  11. Add Plants

    Add plants such as petunias, plants with trailing flowers, or herbs. Plants that are heat- or drought-tolerant are recommended.

    Plants added between pallet boards for planter

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz