No matter how small your balcony is, there is always room for a herb planter made from a pallet. Follow just a few simple steps to turn a standard pallet into a vertical pallet herb garden.
Seats for the balcony aren’t the only thing you can build from old pallets: it is actually even easier to build a space-saving herb garden. Here, you will find step-by-step instructions for making a DIY pallet herb garden, as well as tips on how best to plant the herbs.
Pallet herb garden: what are the options?
For all balcony gardeners, a pallet herb wall is the perfect way to always have fresh seasonal herbs to hand without taking up a huge amount of space. The narrow herb planter will fit on any balcony, while also providing an opportunity to upcycle and give new life to old materials. In the right place, it can function as a privacy screen too. The herb pallet is not just practical – it can also spruce up your balcony wall. Hanging fairy lights on the pallet herb garden will help create a cosy atmosphere in the evening.
You can also place the pallet herb planter in a garden. It is perfect for dividing two plant beds to add some structure, or for providing a creative way to mark out a seating area or another section of your garden. You can even hide your bins or compost bays behind two pallet herb planters placed on top of each other. There are endless possibilities!
How to build a pallet herb garden wall
Building a pallet herb garden is easy. Depending on how much work you want to do and how much time you have, there are a few different ways to make your own herb planter from pallets. Here are a few possibilities:
Instructions for building a free-standing pallet herb garden
- Any kind of pallet
- Sander and sanding paper
- Thick plastic sheet (e.g. thick bin bag or pond liner)
- Staple gun or hammer and nails
- Wood screws and drill
- Thin wooden boards, the width of the planter boxes
- Optional: claw hammer, crowbar, or nail puller
- Optional: chalkboard paint or chalkboard sheet and chalk
6 easy steps to build a vertical pallet herb garden wall:
- If you wish, you can remove the second and fourth board of the pallet with a nail puller or a similar tool. This way, the herbs will get light from two sides, but in turn, this offers less privacy when used as a screen.
- Sand the pallet boards with the sander to prevent getting splinters.
- The boards that you have removed (or purchased) will serve as the base for the planter boxes. Nail or screw them to the cross braces of the pallet from below, creating a small box. If you want to be precise, saw out small notches for the pallet feet. Otherwise, there will be a small gap, but this is not a big deal.
- Drill a row of holes in the centre of the bottom of the planter box for drainage.
- Cut the sheet and fit and line the planter box with it. To do this, use the staple gun or a hammer and nails. This is an important step as it stops the wood from getting wet and rotting quickly. Poke some larger holes in the plastic sheet above the drainage holes in the wood.
- If you wish to, you can also paint the front of the planter boxes with chalkboard paint or stick a chalkboard sheet to it. This will allow you to label your herbs. Alternatively, you can simply stick small plant markers into the soil.
Now that it’s all set up, the only thing left to do is fill the pallet herb wall!
In a hurry? It is possible to buy ready-made planter boxes from many DIY shops or online, which you simply hang on the herb pallet. If you go for this option, the pallet herb garden will be ready in under five minutes.
If you don’t fancy fiddling about with screws: the pallet herb wall is stable enough, even without a wooden planter box base. In this case, however, it is important to make sure you use a tear-resistant plastic sheet. Garden fleece also works well.
Growing herbs in pallets
What herbs can you grow in a pallet herb planter? Most typical culinary herbs will find enough room to grow in these planters.
Tip: It’s worth opting for small-growing varieties of some herbs, such as rosemary and sage, as these can grow into large shrubs and quickly become unhappy with the limited space and soil. Other very large-growing herbs include borage, comfrey, southernwood and lemon verbena.
What to consider when planting your herb pallet:
- The right soil: Many herbs prefer nutrient-poor, loose soil. This includes many Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), sage (Salvia officinalis) and broad-leaved lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Our loose Plantura Organic Herb & Seeding Compost, with a pH of 6.1 to 6.9, is ideal for these herbs. Others have higher nutrient requirements. These include basil (Ocimum basilicum), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), peppermint (Mentha × piperita) and parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Supply these herbs with some natural plant fertiliser, like our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, when planting, or mix in some nutrient-rich soil.
- Pick herbs based on the light available: It is important to take into account how sunny the location of your pallet herb garden is. In these articles, you will find sun-loving herbs, shade-loving herbs, and herbs for partial shade. In general, however, the herbs on the top tier of the herb pallet usually get the most sun. So, plant light-loving herbs on the top, and those that can tolerate shade on the lower tiers.
- Leave enough space: Pallet herb planters have limited soil, so it is vital you do not sow and plant too many herbs in one planter box. Find out in advance how big the herbs will grow and what the recommended spacing is. Potted herbs from the supermarket should be divided. The plants in these pots are always too close together, which encourages diseases.
- Pick the right neighbours: Some herbs get along well with each other, while others can have a negative effect on their neighbours. You can take advantage of this by planting well-paired herbs in a planter box together. Take a look at our article on companion planting to find our summary of which herbs go well together.
- Consider different herb’s water requirements: When growing herbs in a pallet herb garden, pay attention to the watering needs of the herbs. Plant those with similar water needs in the same planter box. The lower boxes will likely always get the dripping water from the boxes above them through the drainage holes. Because of this, herbs that can tolerate a little more moisture are best planted in the lower tiers. A layer of clay pebbles on the bottom of the planter boxes help to prevent waterlogging.
- The right planting time: Mediterranean herbs in particular like the heat, so plant them after the last frost, around the middle of May. When sowing herbs, follow the information on the seed packet.
Tip: It is not just the plants’ water needs that differ – they also have different nutrient requirements. Hungry herbs like parsley, chives and basil will only grow abundantly with regular fertilisation. For these, apply a plant-based fertiliser twice a year, such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. Our fertiliser is particularly environmentally friendly because we use animal-free ingredients from the food and beverage industry. Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and lavender, on the other hand, rarely need extra nutrients. However, at some point they too will have used up all of their supply in the soil.
Now nothing stands in the way of you building your own pallet herb garden! Another way to grow herbs on your balcony is with a raised herb bed.