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One of the things I love the most about gardening is that there are so many twists on the one idea! Regular garden beds, raised garden beds, container gardens, tower gardens, square foot gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, flower gardens, and now? we are going to talk about Using Pallets in the Garden.
Many people are strapped for space when it comes to gardening, and they have to try and make things work in the best way they can. What are the options present on the table to get to where you need to be?
Pallets! Pallets are so useful for many different things, and gardening is among the number. But, the major question is...how does one incorporate pallets into their gardening?
7 Ways to Use Pallets in Gardening
Is It Safe To Use Pallets For Gardening?
This is the number one asked question and for the most part...yes, it is. Pallets serve as a great addition to your garden as well as being able to act as a great "garden" itself. However, before you run to the store to get some pallets, you must get some vital information first.
Where are the pallets coming from? What were they used to transport? What type of wood made the pallet? Were they treated? There are so many questions that need answers before you take them home. Bear in mind different chemicals may have been used to spray or treat the pallets, which could pose a threat if exposed within the home environment, let alone be absorbed by the plants that you hope to consume.
Keep in mind that some of these pallets travel worldwide and could be infested with termites and other bacteria. We need to really know what we are looking for if we want to Use Pallets For Gardening
For a fact, the trend of using pallets has become quite popular in the gardening arena. Still, Candice Miller, a horticulture educator at the University of Illinois, notes the importance of recycling and the act of reusing resources. However, safety must first be considered, and the problem comes when people don't stop to think first about what they are doing.
Interestingly, there have been new regulations in the United States surrounding pallets' shipment from outside of the country. It clearly states that before any shipment of pallets is made, the manufacturers have to focus on getting them treated. The process can either be through heating or fumigation and must meet quality standards by the regulatory body. Pallets come in many forms, colors, and sizes, and depending on your gardening needs, you will know what to choose.
Choosing The Right Pallet
Pallets vary, and shopping around for them might leave you with yet a few more questions? Why are they designed in this manner? Or, why are most pallets painted in blue or red? The color-code on the pallets has significant meanings and should be an important factor when considering buying them.
Color coded pallets
Seeing a blue pallet around means they are branded, and caution should be implemented before you think to source them. The color-code could indicate that the pallets belong to a pallet company and are ones they usually recollect to do multiple shipments. As you are searching around for pallets, you might be wondering what signs would give the clear signal that they are safe to use in your home-gardening environment. Most pallets are generally labeled or marked to indicate whether they are safe or not.
Letter coded pallets
You may see pallets labeled with different colors, or there might be letter-codes on them. If you see pallets marked with "DB," then you can be sure they are safe to use for whatever purposes you need as they have been treated. The "DB" mark indicates the pallet woods have been debarked to be treated for use.
The "DB" marked pallets are chemical-free and can be used for your gardening, especially if you will be planting edible crops. You may also use pallets with the marking "HT" as this means the woods have heat-treated before being used to make the pallets. But, it could still mean they have used heat chemicals for this process. So, the best bet is the ones marked with "DB."
However, you have to be very careful to notice pallets with the code "MB" written on them as you may want to avoid them entirely. This mark indicates the pallets have been exposed to a chemical known as Methyl Bromide, which isn't really safe to use in your home environment.
Take note, though, that you may want to avoid them altogether if there are no codes like colors or markings. Bear in mind, you will not be able to tell if they are treated or not and could pose a serious health risk to you and those around you.
Looking for bugs and mold
The question is often asked by those seeking to get pallets for their DIY projects: do pallets attract termites? The general response is that all outdoor woods attract termites one way or another, and the best solution is to check the wood for any signs of mold that may form. Pallets that are debarked and treated are the safest options to seek out.
Where Can I Source Free Wood Pallets?
There are many places where you can source them! When it comes to the stores that use pallets, it is best to visit the smaller stores as they are more likely to give their pallets or stack them so passersby can take to their heart's desire.
It saves small stores money
The smaller stores will people to pick them up as the cost to have haulage pick them up would be an unwanted expense. However, even though you can get them, it might be much more difficult to source when it comes to the bigger stores. This is because many bigger stores hire haulage services to take out the pallets they are not using, and others may reuse theirs.
Become a temporary haulage service
Among the other ways to source pallets for your garden is by becoming a pick-up service for the small companies around town. Seeing you need the pallets, you could offer to take them from the companies. It'll be their waste, but at the end of the day, it will be a major gain for you. Also, for the other removal services that take the larger companies' load, you could try to strike a deal with them so they would deliver to you or set a location where you can pick it up.
A third way to get pallets is by forming an online relationship with others seeking pallets and others who may have a surplus that they want to give away. They may advertise online, and you can benefit from these sources to arrange to get just a few for your needs. If you plan on Using Pallets in the Garden, a network is a great way to find them! Facebook can be a great resource.
There is no limit to the number of ways you can get pallets as another method involves getting in touch with distribution companies. Many large companies may not want to let go of pallets, so for the distribution companies that do deliveries, you can set up connections with them to get a few should they have extra when they are going back.
Home Depot is a popular store that everyone knows about but do they have pallets to get a few? No, they don't. Unfortunately, Home Depot is now on a mission to reduce the cost they spend on production, so instead of giving the pallets away, they arrange with vendors to return them. After all, the process of making them can be quite expensive, so they are trying to save on extra spending.
Don't just help yourself
You may be driving by and see some pallets stacked behind stores and wonder if you can go ahead and get a few. Consider two things: the stores could still have use for them, so they belong to them, and it could be illegal to take them without permission. It could be considered stealing, and you may be in trouble for that. On the other hand, you could easily get a few, but before you take them, ensure you check with the relevant authority figure of that store first before you do so.
Putting The Pallets into Action: Using Pallets in the Garden
After sourcing the pallets, there might be a few things that you need to take care of before you start using them. Preparing the pallets to get the best results could take a few different tasks.
There could be the need to fix any loose boards that need to be nailed or screwed down and some rough patches that you may need a little elbow grease and sandpaper to smooth out some edges.
If you plan to be Using Pallets in the Garden, there are many ways you can alternate the pallets to make the experience much more fun and exciting. Using the pallets can be done in any of the following forms...
Raised Garden Bed
You can lay the pallet flat, fill it with dirt, and then plant your crops. The interesting part about this option is that you can plant your flowers, herbs, or even veggies and save those extra dollars when going to the store. The rows will make it easy for you to plant your crop and even between the slats. Hands down this has to be one of the easiest ways for Using Pallets in the Garden.
Stack The Pallets
You may want to raise your garden off the ground when you plant, and this could be an interesting way to get the bearings you need. When you stack, it could almost be like a multi-layer cake, and then the veggies on top would serve as icing. The raised bed might be ideal for those with back pains that cannot do the excess bending but still need to engage in their favorite hobby. When the pallets are stacked, the top one could be altered to plant inside of it and give more space for more crops.
Use The Pallets As Walls
Instead of laying the pallets down, you could let them stand and form a brace in terms of a frame or barrier for your raised bed. With the pallets serving as a wall, you could make the raised bed by adding gravel or stone at the bottom, add some regular dirt, then add your compost garden dirt for planting. This will allow you to easily make a raised bed that stands as tall as 3 feet or more. This method again allows those who can't do much bending to plant whatever they want easily.
Do you need a way to keep animals and other movers out of your little gardens? Well, pallets could come in handy and serve well as a fence or barrier. Even though you will be able to keep large animals out, small critters will be able to crawl through, but that still doesn't mean they will easily destroy your crops.
If you are strapped with space, you can easily turn the pallets vertically and plant whatever you need. The thing about pallets is that you can fill them with dirt and let them stand, and you plant your flowers and kitchen herbs in them. You can lean it against the wall of the garage or the back of your house. This isn't as easy as our first idea, but runs a close second for Using Pallets in the Garden.
In addition to this unique planting method, you can alternate the slats to make way for larger plants that need a little extra space to grow. Need to do cabbage or lettuce? The alternate slats would do well with these selections, as well as other salads you may want to plant.
Use As a Hanger
You may have your clay pots with your flowers and other herbs that might be too big to plant in a pallet. But, this does not mean the pallet will be completely useless. You can easily mount the pallet and use it as a hanger for your pots, especially if you are trying to keep your animals away from your plants.
The basics to getting the right pallets for your projects is to implement a little "common sense" to the process. Do a thorough check of the pallets to include a visual inspection to ensure they are free of mold and other "termite-attraction" signals. You could also do a smell check to see if they are free of chemicals because you will not always be told what the pallets were used for or where they have gone since most are usually reused. Ask a few questions while you're at it, and you could also make the process easier by knowing the company the pallets once belonged to.
Once you have the pallets in hand, there are so many things you can do with them and also be able to plant a variety of flowers and veggies. Whether vertically, horizontally, or stacked, your gardening will become more exciting, and you can plant more crops safely, with fewer chemicals.
As noted in other articles we wrote about gardening, this is a great way to engage in organic gardening and use the compost from your kitchen to get the healthy results you need.