How To: A DIY Pallet Garden For Apartments With Balconies (Photos)

If you are a green thumb in Brickell or somewhere in South Beach, you can rarely get your hands dirty. But if you have a balcony, then you're in luck because you can build a pallet garden.

The pallet garden is simply a wooden pallet from which a garden is made. It fits perfectly on a small balcony. All of the materials are easily found and/or bought with little money. With a little time, tools and some effort, you get a nice morale booster to fight the occasional doldrums of apartment life.

Pallets are found throughout the city: behind shops, grocery stores, alleyways, dumpsters, construction sites, warehouses. Always remember to acquire one legally, but who's really paying attention? Just simply ask for one, chances are the answer will be yes.

Other materials are required if you don't have them, they are:

  • A handsaw ($5 at a hardware store)
  • One big flat-head screwdriver
  • A hammer
  • A measuring tape or ruler
  • Two dozen nails
  • A few rolls of gauze or 4 pairs of pantyhose
  • One bag of potting soil ($5 at Walmart or elsewhere)
  • Some potted herbs (basil, oregano, dill, marjoram, spearmint: ~$30)

The procedure is easy and takes about two to fours to complete. Start by prying off the middle board from the side with three boards grouped in the middle. Flip it over and pry the second, fourth and sixth boards starting from the top. Using a very long and sturdy flat head screwdriver and a hammer helps tremendously.

Pull out the old nails from the boards while trying to salvage them for later use. What you should have after prying off the boards and nails is a pallet with four evenly-space rows, or trays. Four boards, four rows -- coincidence?

Now measure the inside of the trays and use this measurement to mark the boards. The measurements will be slightly different, so use the biggest one and make it the standard board length so they will all fit.

A handsaw like the one pictured above may appear difficult and inefficient to cut wood, but it is actually like slicing a hot knife through butter. A solid three or less minutes of hard and fast cutting is all it takes for each cut. Two cuts, four boards and roughly 24 minutes of cutting. That is if you prefer the handsaw. Use whatever you wish.

The boards should all be relatively equal length, within one half inch of each other. If one doesn't quite fit, then mix and match. If you need to make it fit, pound it in with a hammer.

By now the metamorphosis is nearly complete. Start lining up nails along the bottom, two for each side is sufficient. Any more and proper drainage could be impeded.

If you don't want to use new nails, then channel the inner DIYer and reuse the old ones. Only a true master should attempt this.

Take an old pair of pantyhose and make one slice down the length of each legging, opening it up and lining the entire inside of each tray with one. Gauze is a cheaper option but it is hard to work with. From here you place a small layer of dirt on the inside.

The last step is to start filling the trays with herbs. Pack more potting soil in the space between the herbs to hold them in place. Pro tip: spearmint is an aggressive plant, dedicate an entire tray for it, or else whatever is growing next to it will be overtaken.

Fill all trays, and now you just finished constructing a DIY pallet garden for your balcony. Pat yourself on the back and bust out the Dom Pérignon. This idea is not new, and there are many ways to modify it. Yet, if any personal doubts about completing the project pervade your mind, just remember that it is extremely easy and quite fun to make.

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