Garden Blog: Operation Skyward Pallets

Posted by on Mar 8, 2017 in Naturalist Blog | 0 comments

Our food comes to Shady creek by truck and every now and then we get a large delivery in which they leave a pallet. Over time we collected these pallets to reuse them by turning them into vertical planter boxes.

Planting vertically is not a new idea for example the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was completed around 600 B.C. Although there is some debate if the gardens existed at all, some historians tell a story of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, built the gardens in current day Iraq for his home sick wife, Amyitis, who used to live in a more mountain and lush area. The garden was built with rooftop terraces and a chain pump to water the gardens. The pump used two wheels with a chain between them to push buckets of water up to the gardens.

However there are many more uses to plant vertical gardens then to cheer up some homesickness or beyond beauty and aesthetics. Vertical gardening can increase air quality, property values, and increase urban wildlife.  By growing up that saves room for those who have small backyards.

Our Project Dimensions:

6’9” wide (two pallets long) by 4’5” wide and 5’9” tall

Materials needed:

6 wooden pallets

2X4’s and wooden trellises

Screws (or nails we used screws so that we can take them out if we made a mistake)

Medal braces (we found leftovers braces from another project)

Use Logs/ branches/ clippings from wood that promote decomposition.

Be an Eco- Kid:

You could buy these materials however using what is around not only makes the project cheaper to make but also saves treasures from landfills. Our project cost us nothing but our own time. Even the screws and medal braces were leftovers from other projects.

Here is what we did:

Preparing the soil:

We wanted our skyward pallets to interact and be a part of the soil below the bed. This way we will not need to add as much yearly fertilizer compared to our raised wooden box beds.

We started by digging a 1-11/2′ hole and filled it with logs and brush from the oak trees surrounding the garden. This will allow for the water to sink into the ground and stay under the bed. We then added a layer of straw and with the power combined the wood and straw should add fungus growth and other decomposers to the site. Our final step was to mix manure (we used horse manure because one of our neighbors donated it to us), top soil that was donated through Recology and the existing clay/ sandy soil together. This will promote root growth and the bed will be a part of the surrounding soil.

Skyward pallets:










Our vision was to lean pallets together making an “A” frame. We decided for our vertical bed to be 1 1/2 pallets tall which stands at 5’9” tall.  You could build a smaller one by using one pallet tall. We took two pallets and cut it in half and reinforced the half pallet by screwing in a 2X4 at the top and bottom. Then we took two new pallets and screwed them together using medal brackets that secured them together. We repeated this process with two new pallets creating both walls of our bed. We then took the half pallets and secured them (with screws and medal brackets) to the top of the pallets so that one wall stands at one and a half pallet tall. We then took 2X4 and created a rectangle base around the pallets. This connected all four leaning pallets together.

Our challenge for this project:

Over time the pallets did settle in the ground so that the structure has a small lean to it. If we did not make the rectangle base, the structure might not be sound. Our final step was to add soil and attach 2X4’s and wooden trellises along the sides to pin in the soil to the top. This sounded easy but proved difficult. We found out the middle of the “A” frame was going to need a lot of soil which tended to run through the holes of the pallets. Our solution was to add logs and branches and even a bale of straw to fill in the room. Then we added soil through the slats in the pallets hoping that once the plants were established they will hold the soil in place as the branches decay.

Plants we are thinking of planting includes strawberries and tomatoes which do well in a hanging state. We are also interested in planting sunflowers at the top to see how tall they will grow as a tower over everyone.

Woods that work best to promote decay:

  • alders
  • apple
  • aspen
  • birch
  • cottonwood
  • maple
  • oak
  • poplar
  • willow (make sure it is dead)
  • Pine is acceptable.

Wood to avoid:

  • most or all  cedars (cypress, redwood, sequoia)
  • camphor wood
  • black locust
  • black cherry
  • eucalyptus
  • tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
  • black walnut
  • California pepper tree (Peruvian and Brazilian)
  • Siberian Elm


Work Cited:

The Museum of Un-Natural Mystery “The hanging Gardens of Babylon”

Ancient History Encyclopedia “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: The Mysterious Wonder of the Ancient”

Vertical gardening

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