Blog / Garden Tips

Pallets to palaces - upcycling for gardens

8th October 2016

Have you ever wondered what to do with that old wooden pallet that’s stuck at the back of your shed? Wonder no more. We’ve unearthed some weird and wonderful ways to upcycle even the dustiest of pallets.

Our Facebook followers and some of our favourite bloggers have been sharing their projects. Pallets can be practical, pretty, and peculiar. Read on to see some of the best we’ve found!

Practical Pallet projects

Pallet planter

Garden planter made from two wooden pallets
Image source: Salvage Sister
Made from spray painted pallets

Salvage Sisters Charis Williams used pallets to create this striking planter, which is perfect for prettying up the area outside your shed or log cabin. To make your own, you’ll only need two pallets but they must be the kind that have big solid blocks in the corners instead of struts.

Visit Charis’ brilliant blog for full instructions on how to build the planter. Once you’ve put it together, spray it with universal spray paint but don’t strive for perfection, as you’re aiming for a weathered effect. Charis explains the next step:

“When the paint is dry in around 20-30 mins, use a sander with 60 grit sandpaper and sand the rough wood off. Notice – unlike most projects you are not sanding before you paint the wood – only afterwards, that’s how you get the weathered effect.”

Finally, line your planter with a coffee sack, which you can pick up for a couple of pounds online, or at your local market or boot sale. Remove the seam with a knife and open the sack out, before stapling it to the inside of the planter. Fill with soil or compost, and you’re ready to start planting!

Pallet log store

A log store made from wooden pallets
Image: Waltons Facebook
This log store won’t leak

Facebook follower Steven Byers is justifiably proud of his sturdy looking log store. There’s plenty of storage space and the wood is protected from the elements by an overhanging roof. In fact, it’s so well built that admirer Gillian Smith Couto reckons it would make an ideal home for her pallet hot tub.

The bloggers at Do It Properly reckon that building a log store is an ideal introduction to the world of pallet upcycling and the great news is that the wood needn't cost you a penny:

“Many builders merchants and garden centres are happy to give pallets away for free. Ask permission first, then take what you need. Our log store uses the wood from 3 standard pallets.”

Visit the blog and you’ll find a comprehensive guide which will take you through the whole process of building your own log store, from dismantling a pallet to fitting a watertight roof.

Pallet duck House

Small duck house made from pallets
Image: Frugal blog
Perfect pallet poultry palace

The imaginative guys at the Frugal blog have used pallets to make not only a log store, but all kinds of other things:

“To date, we have a log store, a roof over the quail run and a duck house, all constructed from salvaged roofing boards and pallets. (In the photo is our latest duck house, built from pallets & scrap roofing board.”)

A regular supply of hen, duck and quail eggs is the family’s reward for creating a poultry microholding entirely from recycled materials. Their success proves that you don’t need a lot of cash or a fancy floating garden feature to keep your feathered friends happy. Perhaps the Frugal blog should be required reading for politicians.

Pallet wildlife hotel

A wildlife hotel made from wooden pallets
Image source: Waltons Facebook
Waiting for wildlife

We love Lucy Tyler’s wildlife hotel, which is suitable for sheltering all kinds of creatures including hedgehogs, toads, ladybirds and bees. Lucy and her family are excited about welcoming their first guest:

“It only opened on Saturday so we haven't seen any visitors yet but are keeping a close eye on it!”

You can find detailed instructions on how to build a similar hideaway on the RSPB website. The experts there say you can:

...build your bug hotel at any time of year, but you may find you have most natural materials such as straw, dry grass and hollow plant stems in autumn.”

And if you’re serious about welcoming wildlife into your garden, check out our post on making a wildlife-friendly garden.

Pretty Pallet Projects

Pallet birthday bar

A tiki style bar made from recycled pallets
Image source: Orchard Blog
Add a free bar

Having a garden party? How about building a bar to keep your guests refreshed? Graphic designer Richard used free pallets to build a tiki bar for his daughter’s birthday:

“Essentially the bar is made up of three pallets, one across the front, and two half pallets on either side, with the extra wood used where needed. We made sure the bar was sturdy enough, and even had the forethought to put in a shelf under the bar to hide all the extra bottle and juice cartons out of sight.”

Want to get even more decorative? A paper fringe luau, some colourful leis from your local party shop, and some bright paper flowers will make your bar stand out. Some solar powered fairy lights will help keep the party going once the sun sets!

Pallet patio

A garden patio made from recycled pallets
Image source: Waltons Facebook
Perfect for a chat

With the refreshments taken care of, your guests need a place to perch while they enjoy their drinks. Step forward Gillian Smith Couto, who has transformed twenty pallets into the perfect place to enjoy a get-together. The fencing and gate ensure that little guests are safely contained, while any four legged friends are kept at a safe distance from the nibbles!

Pallet mud Kitchen

A mud kitchen made from old wooden pallets
Image source: Waltons Facebook
Get your kids in the kitchen

You want to sit back and relax with your guests, but the kids want to play! So we had to feature Anne Riddington’s marvellous mud kitchen, as it’s perfect for keeping little hands out of mischief. There are plenty of instructions for making similar kitchens available online, including this detailed guide from MicroHackers, which gives fantastic step-by-step instructions.

Pallet bench and table

A garden bench and table made from up-cycled pallets
Image source: Waltons Facebook
Time for tea?

The guests have gone, you’ve tidied up and the kids are playing in their mud kitchen. It’s time for you to enjoy a well-deserved cuppa and we think this beautifully decorated bench and table combo by Michelle Sims is the perfect setting. A selection of pretty plants help the pallet table to blend in with the the garden, while the tea set and birdcage add a friendly vintage vibe.

Vertical pallet planters

Vertical garden planters made from wooden pallets
Image source: Waltons Facebook
The only way is up

While you enjoy your restful brew, make the most of your time in the garden by taking in the vibrant colours and scents. We’re full of admiration for Andrea Bridger’s vibrant vertical planters. Rozie Apps of permaculture magazine says:

“For those who live in urban environments, growing space is often limited. Growing vertically is a great way to make the most of the space you do have.”

Andrea’s pallet planters are filled with flowers but Rozie Apps suggests growing fruit and veg too. To give this a go, head over to Permaculture, where further upright growing instructions await!

While you enjoy your restful brew, make the most of your time in the garden by taking in the vibrant colours and scents. We’re full of admiration for Andrea Bridger’s vibrant vertical planters. Rozie Apps of permaculture magazine says:

“For those who live in urban environments, growing space is often limited. Growing vertically is a great way to make the most of the space you do have.”

Andrea’s pallet planters are filled with flowers but Rozie Apps suggests growing fruit and veg too. To give this a go, head over to Permaculture, where further upright growing instructions await!

Pallet welly stand

A wooden pallet as a welly stand
Image source: Second Hand Shopper
Brilliant for boots

Create a buzz by featuring a few unusual pallet upcycles in your garden. Caroline, who blogs at Second Hand Shopper, cut a pallet into two pieces to create a much needed welly stand and there was even room to pop in a few plants:

“Taking out the second rung from the bottom allowed me to fill the bottom with some chard seedlings I’m hoping will take before winter kicks in. This will look great too come spring, when I replace these with daffs/tulips!”

We love that the pallet now has a dual purpose - simple, practical and fun!

Pallet pool

Garden swimming pool made from recycled wooden pallets
Image source: helloU
Fancy a dip?

We’re impressed with this ingenious invention by the bloggers at helloU. Using just nine pallets, ratchet straps, tarpaulin and some plastic sheeting, they’ve managed to create a swimming pool. If you’d prefer a more luxurious lining, the inventors have a suggestion:

Now we’re not saying that you have to, but since tarpaulin isn’t the comfiest material going, you can add a layer of pool liner. This is good also as it never hurts to make the pool extra waterproof.”

There’s no excuse for not swimming off any summer barbecue calories when you have a pool in your own garden!

Pallet chandelier

Chandelier made from recycled pallets
Image source: Studiomama
Illuminate your garden in style

Designer Nina Tolstrop created her chandelier as part of a challenge to design pallet furniture that would cost under £10 to make. The pallet project took on a life of its own, with people from all over the world people downloading the instructions to build Nina’s furniture. Hang this huge chandelier in your garden and it’ll certainly spark some great conversations!

Pallet picnic bench

Garden picnic benching made from wooden pallets
Image source: Kezzabeth
A pallet garden chaise

DIY and renovation blogger Kezzabeth built this stunning pallet seat in her garden from 14 half-sized pallets she picked up from eBay.

If you fancy making your own pallet bench, pop over to Kezzabeth’s site, where you’ll find a complete guide. Kezzabeth recommends adding a coat of decking preserver to your finished bench:

“Pallets are usually designed for outdoor use anyway, but giving them a further treatment really isn't a bad thing! I've used a decking preserver (this stuff is good for all wood though!) and also a coloured decking stain on top of that.”

Her top tip? Use a paint sprayer to save time.

Pallet shed decoration

Kate, creator of this pallet project, says:

“I find that there is something very satisfying in making something useful, or even just pretty out of unwanted things.”

Perfect for hanging outside your shed at Halloween. Put it this way, we wouldn’t want to come across it on a dark night!

If we’ve inspired you to get creative with pallets, pick up a few from a local industrial estate and you’ll soon be adding a unique touch to your own garden. We’d love to see your projects on our Facebook page!

Lead image: Lutic

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