We are a pretty busy family so when I decided to try out gardening, I knew I needed to start with something simple and easy to maintain. I first started with a very low-effort container garden using 5-gallon buckets and this raised planter box (it’s self-watering!). But the crafty side of me took over and I wanted something more.
That’s when I came up with the idea to make my very own DIY raised garden bed using pallets. This simple and budget friendly DIY pallet planter box cost me $0 and is easy enough for a beginner to build!
When planning my new garden project, I knew I wanted a small space that was easy to cover quickly in case of cold weather or harsh storms. Having a raised garden bed also prevents lots of bending over and helps keep pests and wild animals out of the veggies.
Having my planter box at waist height ensures that I’m much more likely to maintain my garden – more so than if I had to do a lot of bending to tend and weed!
Here’s my step by step tutorial for how you can make your very own pallet planter box at home – for free! Frugal gardening at its best!
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Pallet Raised Garden Bed Ideas
There are a large variety of wooden planter boxes out there, and I looked at a few different options before deciding on the style I wanted.
Here are a few raised bed ideas that I considered:
Knowing that I wanted a pallet planter box that was waist height, I decided to create something similar to the last option. Mine wouldn’t be exactly the same, but the visual gave me a starting point to create my plans.
No matter which style you choose, looking at a completed version of your wood pallet planter box will help you see what materials you need to be able to create your own (and for a much cheaper price!!).
Supplies for a DIY Raised Garden Bed
I like to grab up free wood pallets to have on hand for DIY projects whenever I can find them. Occasionally I see old pallets listed for free in Facebook groups or on Facebook Marketplace. You can also check the commercial or industrial areas in your town and see if there are any free pallets that a business may be getting rid of.
Just be sure to ask before you take them! Also, try to check for pallets that have wood in good condition (but sometimes even pallets with broken pieces can be used for other projects, if you have room to store them).
Don’t use any pallet wood that appears to have had toxic chemicals spilled on them. Also, look for pallets that have been heat treated (they should have HT stamped on them for heat treatment) and not chemically treated (stamped with MB for methyl bromide which is toxic).
You can see pictures and more info on pallet stamps here.
How to Build Your Planter Box from Pallets
Step 1: Decide the size for your raised garden bed
I knew I wanted my pallet garden bed to be approximately 2 by 4 feet. My longest pallet boards are just over 4 feet so that became the length of the box.
You need at least 4 long pallet boards of the same length, 2 for the front and 2 for the back, to make the length of the box.
Step 2: Build the pallet planter box
Make sure you pre-drill all your holes as you go along because pallet boards are thin and tend to split when drilling.
I simply screwed my two long pallet boards to two pieces of 2×4, which I cut to the appropriate width of the two pallets on top of each other ( around 10-inches). I did this for the front and the backside.
Then I cut four pallet boards to 2 feet for the width sides of the box. I screwed them to the 2×4 holding the two long pallet boards. This completed the four sides of the box.
Now I just needed to build the bottom.
I flipped the frame of the planter box over so that the bottom was facing upwards and cut pallets to fit the width of the base.
I needed to add some support to attach the pallet boards so I centered a pallet 2×4 on to each long side and cut two pieces of pallet 2×4 to fit between the width sides. Then I also added one to the center for additional strength.
Once it was framed in, I used the drill to screw all the bottom pallets across the base of the box frame width-wise for strength. Once they were all attached, the box was complete!
If you choose to keep your pallet planter box on the ground, you can skip ahead to step 6 below.
Step 3: Raise your garden bed by adding legs
While a ground based planter box works perfectly well, I wanted my garden bed to be raised to waist height. Not only would it keep more weeds and pests out, but it makes it much easier on my back!
To add legs to the planter box, simply screw the 2x4s into the base of the pallet box and the 2×4 frame inside of it. Once all four legs are attached, flip it over and screw from the top down into the legs.
Next, reinforce the legs with a couple of 2×4’s for the width of the box at the base of the box where the legs attach. This will give them extra strength and keep the structure from being wobbly. You don’t want your raised garden to come crashing down!
Step 4: Add lower support
Now cut a couple more 2×4’s for extra support and attach them with screws about 3 inches or so from the bottom of your legs.
Step 5: Cover the legs
This step may be optional for you, however I feel like it makes the planter box look more “finished” and adds a bit more strength and sturdiness.
Cut 8 pallet boards to the full height of the raised garden bed, then screw them onto the legs and box. They cover up the ugly pallet 2×4’s and increase the overall stability of the base.
It could look cute to paint these corner boards with an accent color to make your raised garden bed pop, but that wasn’t too important to me.
Step 6: Add tarp to your raised garden bed (optional)
While this step is optional, it’s one that I recommend for a few reasons. A tarp, strip of jute, or garden fabric can help to keep your soil from slipping through the cracks in the pallet boards. A tarp also adds a little bit of protection for the pallet boards so the wood isn’t continually moist from the soil (so it lasts even longer).
Luckily we had an old tarp that had been laying around for a while now, so I swiped it to line the bottom of my planter box.
To attach, simply place inside to cover the bottom and sides of the box. Use a staple gun to attach it to the interior of the box, and cut it once it is secure. Repeat for a second layer of tarp (if you like) and staple it really well.
Make sure to cut a few holes in the bottom to allow for excess water to drain out. Too much water can damage roots and kill your plants, so good drainage is important.
I recommend cutting 2 inch slits in the bottom of the box, at the creases between where the pallet boards meet.
Step 7: Add some potting soil to your DIY raised garden bed
Now that your pallet planter box or raised garden bed is complete, move it into the spot you want it. You’ll want to do this before you add your preferred soil mix because it becomes quite heavy!
We mixed manure and compost with our potting soil to make it nice and full of nutrients for our veggies. Be sure to use potting soil and not regular garden soil, or the dirt can become too dense for your plants.
Also, if you want to try composting – this easy turn compost bin is what we have. It has worked great for us!
Step 8: Plant your garden
Now it is time to fill your planter box with your favorite fruits and vegetables. I picked a few plants up at our local greenhouse, and planted a few others that I had started in the house from seed.
I also used a few seed packets for beans, peas and lettuce. We can’t wait to see how our vegetable garden does this year! We already have plans to build a second raised bed garden someday.
We hope you enjoyed this step by step guide of our latest DIY project. Our DIY Raised Garden Bed is perfect for our little family to have a chance at growing some of our own fresh veggies and fruit – without spending a lot of money on materials!
What are you planting this year? Do you have a garden or will you try out this project? I’d love for you to share your vegetable beds with me! I may need to make a few pallet flower pots next!
Be sure to check out our DIY tutorial for how to make a hanging plant stand – the perfect place for strawberries!
Update on Our DIY Raised Garden Bed – One Month Later
It has been just over a month since we planted our garden and I’m so proud to share how much it has flourished! In all honesty, I over planted this garden expecting half of my plants and seeds not to make it.
Boy was I wrong!
All the tomatoes have been moved into pots and an old rustic potter I made out of some found farmhouse wood. I have added in a couple of plant stands, nothing technical just a nice quick solution to get the pots off of the ground.
At last count – just a few days ago – we had 140 tomatoes! There are still plenty of blooms, so I know we will have many more.
We now have peas and have been eating our homegrown lettuce for a few weeks. Our beans are currently blooming but I haven’t seen any pods growing just yet.
We have the cutest little cucumbers starting to grow. Our onions, which were planted just a couple of weeks ago, have completely taken off!
We started composting our kitchen scraps to make rich nutrients for our planter beds, and somehow now we have two compost bins and a worm composting farm too! I just had to try out the worms since they seemed like such a neat idea. And it’s amazing how the organic matter helps to grow us bigger and better fresh vegetables!
I’m thinking of adding a little popsicle stick fairy house to our little garden – or maybe even building a second planter box and having a whole little fairy garden with little herbs or succulents! I’ve been wanting to grow my own lemon balm to make fresh lemon balm tea.
I think it would be a fun project to do with the kids. And so cute!
We can’t wait to see what this garden will give our little family this year!
Amanda is a mom of 4 living a mostly crunchy lifestyle outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 dogs, and a cat. As a former special education teacher who also has her personal training certification — Amanda really enjoys teaching others how to do things!
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, hiking, and long walks through Target.