Introduction: Raised Planter Bed From Pallets

I recently saw a picture of a raised planter bed and though it was a really neat idea. I though this would be the solution for keeping rabbits out of my garden, only problem was they wanted $250 for it.

After looking at the picture for a few minutes I was able to construct it in my head, only problem was getting the wood for it would be costly. I was thinking about it while I was at work and saw a co-worker toss a pallet into a dumpster, it occurred to me that I had just found a source of free wood for this project.

It took me about 6 hours in total to build the raised planter bed and I was able to make it for about 10% of what it retailed for.

Step 1: Materials and Notes

You will need the following for this project:
  • 3 to 4 Pallets - depends on the size of the pallets, you'll also want them similar in size.
  • Hammer
  • Vice Grips
  • Pry bar/Crowbar
  • Drill
  • Staple Gun - 3/8 inch staples
  • Skill saw, jig saw, or preferably a miter saw (something that will make 90º cuts and 45º cuts)
  • Screws; I used 3 different lengths of wood screws: 1 inch, 1 1/4 inch, and 1 3/4 inch
  • Landscaping Fabric
  • Additional treated wood from a lumber store, unless you have planks that are the total length of the bed. 
Additional note:
The Pallet wood you will need to use will need to be heat treated.  All pallets will have some marking or stamp on them indicating how they have been treated.  You will need to get some that have a HT (Heat Treated) stamped on them to make this safe for uses with a garden. Steer clear of pallets with MB stamped on them, they have been treated with Methyl Bromide and can be dangerous if used for this project, since plants will be in contact with the wood and any chemicals in it.

Step 2: Prepping the Wood/Pallets

You will need to break down the pallets to use them. It is a lot easier to disassemble pallets that use nails instead of staples.  You will also want to look for pallets that are newer versus older, the wood is less likely to crack when a screw is drilled into it.

The first two pallets I had were assembled with nails, I was able to break them down in about 10 minutes .The second pallet, the crate one, was assembled using staples. That one took a bit more time to break down but had newer and more wood to it.  

After all the pallets are broken down you need to remove all of the nails and staples from the boards to get them in a safe usable condition.

Step 3: Building the Legs

For the legs of the raised planter we are going to use the 2 x 4's that were used to hold the pallets together. 
  1. First I lined up 8 of the best looking 2 x 4's and cut them to length of 3 feet. I used a roofers square tool to get a 90º angle on all of the boards, and cut them to length.
  2. Once all the boards have been cut will need to combine two of the boards to make two sets of 4 x 4's. These will be our center legs.
  3. Once you have the 4 x 4's created will use a thin board to make part of the sides.
  4. One side will consist of a 2 x 4, a thin board, a 4 x 4, another thin board, and a final 2 x 4. The fifth image shows what it should look like once completed.
  5. Now just repeat step 4 for the other side. 

Step 4: Angled Sides and Supports

Now for the hard part, making the angled sides.  Angled sides are better to use then a box form because it uses less wood, less soil, takes up less space and makes it lighter overall. 
  1. For the angles you are going to take a 2 x 4 and cut it in half, I was able to get each half 21 inches in length. Put a 45° angle on both ends with either a jigsaw or miter saw. I only have a jigsaw so I had to cut the 45° angle manually, which made for rough cut but it worked.
  2. You're going to need to do this step two more times to come up with all the angled sides you will need for the raised planter bed.
  3. For the legs, I used a 2 x 4 and cut it partially down the middle to create the supports for the raised planter bed, you can see the results in picture 4.
  4. Now you're going to want drill a hole for the support legs and 2 x 4's to bolt everything together.
  5. Once all the support beams are in place, lay down the center board and screw it in place. 
  6. Now that the center beam is down start working your way up of the sidewalls with additional boards leaving a little bit of space between each board.
After step six is done we will move on to the end caps.

Step 5: End Caps

For the in caps it is a good idea to use the scrap pieces that were not good enough to be used for the angled sidewalls.
The easiest way to make the in caps is to place the board directly against the and of the angled walls and use the roofers square to market a 45° angle and make a cut on that line. Just repeat the process until you get to the top of the angled walls.

Step 6: The Liner

For the liner I used a heavy duty cloth liner that was a 1/16th of in inch thick.  I measured out the total length and the total width with the sides, added 2 inches for an inch fold on each side.
I ended up cutting a rectangle that measured 72 inches in length and  56 inches across.

Once I had it positioned in the bed I started stapling it in place with a staple gun.
For the end caps I cut out a triangle shaped piece and repeated the process.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

I added some rubber feet to the bottoms of the legs so the wood would not be in direct contact with the ground.  I had some old rubber mat that was give to me and it works perfect for the rubber pads. Just cut it to size and and screw the pads in place.

Step 8: Final Notes and Future Plans

Over all I a happy with the sturdiness of the raised bed. My wife and I were able to move it into place easily.  

When I fill the bed I am going to put river rock at the bottom to assist with drainage, place another layer of liner over the rocks and fill with garden soil.  

I am currently working a smaller version that will be constructed from 2 pallets.

I am also working on a way to add netting to keep bugs out, a sun screen to keep certain plants from burning up in the summer heat, and possibly a greenhouse type of cover to keep humidity in in the spring months.  I hope to have a instructable posted on it in about a month or so. Until then happy gardening.
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