Starting an Herb Garden Using a Shipping Pallet

Posted on Sep 27 2010 - 3:41am by Mike Lieberman

The project of using a shipping palette to make an herb garden is one that I originally saw on Instructables.

The concept is that you water the top plant and it drains through to the plant below that and then to the plant below that.

I followed the basic steps steps that were laid out there. You are supposed to drill the neck of the bottle through the top part of the bottle below it.

The palette that I had the slats weren’t close enough and the bottles weren’t long enough, so I had to adapt.

Here is what I did and what was used.

    Tools and Materials

  • Shipping palette
  • Soda and juice bottles
  • Razor and scissors
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • Rocks
  • Newspaper
    Instructions on how to build the herb garden

  • Cut the bottom parts of the bottles off.
  • Screw the first bottle into the top slat. Use two screws spaced out evenly to support the weight.
  • Crumple up some newspaper and stick in the bottom of the bottle. Put some rocks in the bottom too.
  • Line the entire inside of the bottle with newspaper to protect the roots and soil from direct sunlight.
  • Trim off any excess newspaper that’s flowing over the top.
  • If your bottle doesn’t reach the slat below, then you will have to reinforce it with something sturdy. I used hangers that I bent out of shape and chopsticks.
  • Fill the bottles with soil.
  • Plant seeds or transplants as necessary.
  • Be sure to put something under the bottom bottle to catch the water.

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62 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. free2flycari September 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm -

    this is really awesome!!! Simple and Genius!!

  2. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm -

    Thanks. Glad you likes.

  3. andrewodom September 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm -

    This is fantastic. Good use of recyclables and repurposes materials. I am hoping this will definitely get you fined for growing too much food. May your 2 liters runneth over!

  4. Gardening with Kids September 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm -

    That is a great idea!

  5. Anonymous September 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm -

    very cool. reminds me of

  6. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm -

    Hahah. That’d be awesome if I grew too much food from them.

  7. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm -

    Thanks. It was relatively simple to build too. Good project with kids or at least have them water it.

  8. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm -

    Same concept.

  9. Anonymous September 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm -

    This is pretty cool 🙂

    Hmmm…to prevent the drip-hole you could put the caps for these containers on and poke holes in them so it’s more a like a shower-style watering can. That might make them drain slower and more gently to the containers below.

  10. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm -

    Thanks. I thought about doing that, but for the smaller caps can still only drill one hole in them. It would still be a drip in a concentrated spot.

    I’ve saved the caps, so if things get bad, I’ll do this.

  11. Anonymous September 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm -

    If you use a skinny awl you should be able to get 2-3 holes into the 2 liter
    sized caps.

  12. Scissorsanddrumsticks October 5, 2010 at 1:37 am -

    That’s a great idea Mike. We have a full in-ground garden at home (which we are expanding by double this winter) yet can always use the extra space. This will work perfectly as we already have a couple shipping pallets we were going to use as a compost box.

  13. Mike Lieberman October 5, 2010 at 2:12 am -

    Word. I’ve been told that you should be careful when using shipping pallets. You don’t want to use ones for raised gardens or a compost box that have been pressure treated.

  14. Theseahagg October 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm -

    Used in or out of doors, can think of numerous ways to use this simple method, also great project for the kids. Thanks Mike !

  15. Mike Lieberman October 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm -

    Absolutely. Get the power drill in the hands of kids!

  16. Pcynthom October 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm -

    How about using rubber bands to hold pieces of screen over the holes? wouldn’t that allow for water to drip through without causing drip holes?

  17. Mike Lieberman October 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm -

    Good call. That might work too.

  18. Cdan9 October 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm -

    What if you put a little mess on the bottle opening? Do you think that would help “spray” the water out a little?

  19. Alex661975 October 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm -

    Cool site, just got turned onto it. I have looked around but cant find the reason for those copper pipes in the regular pots, is that the watering hole?
    An idea for your caps, maybe drill a hole and attach yarn or something from inside the cap and anchor it in the one underneath..the water should drip down the string…its a thought.

  20. Mike Lieberman October 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm -

    Put the caps back on and drill holes in the bottom of them? That might help out.

    Turns out that the dripping hasn’t been much of a problem yet.

  21. Mike Lieberman October 13, 2010 at 8:44 pm -

    Here is an explanation of the containers

    The dripping hasn’t been much of an issue yet. Everything is sprouting thus far.

  22. Rhonda Daniels November 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm -

    Love this! What a great project to do with kids-thanks for sharing your video. Have you tried tin cans yet? Hmmm… I have a ton of large ones…. 😉

  23. Mike Lieberman November 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm -

    Haven’t done tin cans yet. Good idea.

  24. JP January 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm -

    This is very similar to the canvas garden that I had checked out before coming to your site. Very very clever concept especially since I live in an apartment.

  25. Mike Lieberman January 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm -

    You can definitely pretty them up if you want as well. They work pretty well. Just gotta remember to water em.

  26. Vickimurphyrn April 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm -

    Or a piece of coconut liner or burlap.

  27. Jessica Braun May 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm -

    The #10 Tin cans are great. You just have to be careful if you don’t put holes in the bottom to make sure you allow them to dry a little between waterings. I even leave mine unpainted outside, I like the natural rusty look, but they would be great painted too!

  28. Patabowo May 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm -

    Love the recycling aspect of it, but it looks like hell! I’m not crazy about growing food in plastic either. I’d rather build some shelving with extra pallets so ceramic pots and plates can sit on the shelves.

    I think pallets are perfect for building “potato towers” as well.

    I love the idea of vertical gardens and living walls for cutting down noise pollution, clean up the air or just for aesthetic reasons.

  29. Mike Lieberman May 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm -

    Cool. Cool. To each his own. It certainly can be prettied up.

    If you are using the pallets to grow your own, you should be careful if the wood is treated.

  30. plastic pallet container May 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm -

    This is cool! And so interested! Are u have more
    posts like this? Please tell me, thanks

  31. Mgschrock June 14, 2011 at 2:02 am -

    i too think it could be more attractive, but its a wonderful idea. i live in a small ground floor apt with just concrete out front. this is something i think ill try. thanks for all the good ideas you have.

  32. Mike Lieberman June 14, 2011 at 2:50 am -

    Get to decorating then. When you are done, you can decorate mine too 😉

  33. Judy June 18, 2011 at 5:28 am -

    Lots of cool ideas!  My concern relates to the leaves being near the wood.  In Europe the pallets which have been treated with pesticides, fungicides, or other ickyicides have mandatory labels.  In the U.S. we have no idea what they have put into the wood.  Some of the chemicals have been selected because they kill everything.  Others may have been tossed because something leaked onto them which made them dangerous.  

  34. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm -

    I hear that. That’s why I used the pallet as the support and not to grow directly in it. I think there are ways to tell if it’s been pressure treated or not, but it slips me right now.

  35. Spaceleaf June 20, 2011 at 12:53 am -

    Just a quik thought ,Would the PH change much dripping from one container to the next one??As lots of plants have a different PH  preferences,some like a lower ph and some like it higher,,So maybe just leave it at 7 as thats the middle …Just a thought ,,,cheers and love the idea..

  36. Mike Lieberman June 20, 2011 at 2:04 am -

    I have no clue on that, but sounds like it might a good experiment. Take the PH of the water you pour vs the water that drains out the very bottom. Lemme know the results 😉

  37. Samantha January 5, 2012 at 8:02 am -

    Did this end up growing well for you? How did your herbs end up doing?

  38. Mike Lieberman January 5, 2012 at 8:20 am -

    Worked well. I’d recommend putting transplants in them and not starting seeds in it.

  39. Lucinda Marie Martinez February 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm -

    This is a fantastic idea to maximize my space in the city!  Thank you.  

  40. Mike Lieberman February 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm -

    My pleasure. Lemme know how it works.

  41. redoor February 26, 2012 at 11:31 am -

    I have an old wooden ladder that might work for this!

  42. Mike Lieberman February 27, 2012 at 1:22 am -

    Good call!

  43. Nissa Eisenberg April 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm -

    i could see these being sub irrigated containers too!

  44. Mike Lieberman April 5, 2012 at 7:52 am -

    Good call.

  45. siwil April 5, 2012 at 11:10 am -

    Lovely Idea! I have a question, Can I do it in glass containers? Or does it have to have a hole at the bottom? Thanks! 

  46. Mike Lieberman April 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm -

    How would fix the glass to the pallet?

  47. Ravenstorm7 April 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm -

    Better than using newspaper to act as a filter: try used dryers sheets. They are maleable & porous enough to allow water through, but keep the soil from exiting.

  48. Mike Lieberman April 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm -

    A dryer sheet that doesn’t have the chemicals and dyes in it.

  49. Amber April 16, 2012 at 5:25 am -

    Use fleece or ricepaper liners that are meant for cloth diapering. Like a dryer sheet but completely chemical and dye free:)

  50. Maria April 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm -

    I’d really love to try this out. I’ve never done any gardening before Do you think cheesecloth might work?  

  51. Mike Lieberman April 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm -

    Yes it will.

  52. Lindamillson April 21, 2012 at 7:43 am -

    too fast

  53. Sharn Bowskill April 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm -

    Love this idea, I have 2 in the garage I hung onto, I bet you could utilise this method for trailing plants too, this has given me another project to try. more ideas please.
    Thank you

  54. patsquatch September 18, 2012 at 11:44 am -

    Maybe using the original structure of the pallet, removing every other board. Drill the boards with holes large enough to fit the necks of large dark-colored glass beer, liquor or wine bottlesbottles. The glass would add extra iv protection for soil and roots and avoid leaching toxins from the plastic bottles.

  55. Lucinda Marie Martinez October 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm -

    Hey Mike! Worked fantastically upright, as well as flat on the ground as squarish planters. : ) Plan on expanding the pallet garden theme a great deal next year. Particularly awesome for growing leaf lettuce varieties and spinach.

  56. wannabee November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am -

    Awesomely simple!

  57. homegroan June 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm -

    Coffee filters work well, too.

  58. Lena November 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm -

    I was imagining some sort of raised bed scenario. I am glad I was wrong, because this solves a problem I have been trying to address.

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