Do It Yourself: Building a Raised Bed From Pallets

I came to the raised bed in a very practical way: There is still a lot of space in my garden and I needed a solution to my vole problem. I’ve always wanted to try growing in a raised bed. A simple, inexpensive and – in my opinion – also quite quaint-looking variant is a raised bed made of pallets. I started to look into the subject and really liked the idea of building a raised bed out of pallets myself. And I can say: it was worth it. Today I have a pretty, practical raised bed in my garden. Before you get started, I have put together some instructions and tips for you.


Which pallets and which tarpaulins are suitable for building a raised bed?

It is important to use fairly new pallets. Make sure that they have not been chemically treated. It is best to look for pallets stamped “HT” (Heat Treated). This means that the wood has been treated with heat instead of chemicals. Chemically treated pallets are marked “MB”. Remember to wear gloves when handling pallets. The wood is very roughly planed, so you can easily injure yourself.

You will need an area of 1.5 – 2 m² for the raised bed. When choosing the sheeting, make sure that it is sturdy and cannot tear easily. I have chosen an old PE tarpaulin. Foils from pond construction are not recommended, as they are usually loaded with PVC. There are also special dimpled foils on the market that are also suitable.

Do It Yourself: Building a Raised Bed From Pallets

I came to the raised bed in a very practical way: There is still a lot of space in my garden and I needed a solution to my vole problem. I’ve always wanted to try growing in a raised bed. A simple, inexpensive and – in my opinion – also quite quaint-looking variant is a raised bed made of pallets. I started to look into the subject and really liked the idea of building a raised bed out of pallets myself. And I can say: it was worth it. Today I have a pretty, practical raised bed in my garden. Before you get started, I have put together some instructions and tips for you.
Which pallets and which tarpaulins are suitable for building a raised bed?

It is important to use fairly new pallets. Make sure that they have not been chemically treated. It is best to look for pallets stamped “HT” (Heat Treated). This means that the wood has been treated with heat instead of chemicals. Chemically treated pallets are marked “MB”. Remember to wear gloves when handling pallets. The wood is very roughly planed, so you can easily injure yourself.

You will need an area of 1.5 – 2 m² for the raised bed. When choosing the sheeting, make sure that it is sturdy and cannot tear easily. I have chosen an old PE tarpaulin. Foils from pond construction are not recommended, as they are usually loaded with PVC. There are also special dimpled foils on the market that are also suitable.

Building instructions for a raised bed from pallets


What you need

4 pallets
Spirit level
Chicken wire (mesh size max. 20 mm)
Foil/canvas sacking
Spax screws 5 - 7 cm
Stapler and staple nails
Cordless drill

And this is how it works

You need a level surface so that the raised bed will later stand straight and the water will not run off to one side. You can check this with a spirit level and level the soil underneath if necessary.
Place two pallets next to each other at a 90-degree angle (with the transport surface facing inwards and the three standing surfaces per pallet horizontal to the ground; this gives you the option of planting something in addition in the "boxes"), connect them with the Spax screws at the top and bottom. Make sure that the pallets are flush with each other.
Align the next two pallets in the same way, place them flush against each other and connect them.
Now put the two pallet parts together and connect them. Now the basic frame is ready.
Cut the lattice to size so that it covers the entire bottom of the raised bed and can be folded up a little at the sides. When measuring, allow 5-10 cm extra. Lay out the bottom and fix the wire to the edge of the pallets with a stapler. The wire mesh protects against the intrusion of voles.
Measure the height and inner perimeter of the raised bed to cut the liner to size. Again, I recommend an allowance of at least 5 cm on each side to allow the film to fold over and overlap.
Thoroughly lay out the foil in all places (except the bottom) and secure with a stapler. Make sure that the foil is also properly inserted in the lower corners so that no tension is created during later filling. Now the "framework" of the raised bed is ready.

What will the raised bed be filled with?

The filling for the raised bed made from pallets is divided into five layers, from coarse to fine. The great thing is that you can simply use “garden waste”. The various organic materials ensure that a rotting process takes place. This continuously releases high-quality fertiliser for the plants. When you fill the bed, you are, so to speak, building in the fertiliser at the same time. In addition, the heat generated by the rotting process in the raised bed means that plants can be planted earlier. The harvest time is also extended. After about 5 years, a raised bed should be refilled, as there are no longer enough nutrients available.

The five layers of raised bed filling

1st layer (approx. 30 cm high): Tree cuttings, shrub cuttings, hedge cuttings. These coarse materials ensure good water drainage and serve as drainage.

2nd layer (approx. 5 cm high): Turned over sod (cut out pieces of grass), semi-mature compost.

3rd layer (20 cm high): Leaves, plant residues, shredded material.

4th layer (10 cm high): coarse garden soil

5th layer (fill up to 5 cm below the edge): fine planting soil

I mixed leftover straw bales that I planted last year between the 4th and 5th layers. They were rotting and could therefore be used perfectly for filling. I also picked up a few tubs of processed soil from our local composting facility for these layers. You need quite a lot of it and I wanted to have good soil without producing a lot of packaging waste.

Things quickly went “round and round” in the raised bed. After only three weeks, the soil had already sunk down a little. This is a sign that the composting is progressing. I simply added some more garden soil.


Which plants are suitable for the raised pallet bed?

When planting, you should make sure that they are different species (mixed culture), but that they “get along well”. For my first attempt, I chose the following vegetables: radishes, carrots, chard, kohlrabi and courgettes. The plants should be grown in a cold frame or in a propagator before they go out into the garden. Make sure there is enough space between the plants.

For example, I would not plant two courgettes in a raised bed again. The leaves have grown enormously and take away the light from the other little plants. I will try to let the fruits and leaves of the courgettes climb down the side so that the other vegetables get more light.

Do It Yourself: Building a Raised Bed From Pallets

The first radishes were already ready for harvest after four weeks, the kohlrabi could be harvested after eight weeks and the courgettes after ten weeks. The carrots need more time to grow. In early summer I could already start with the second planting, because kohlrabi and radishes free up space in the bed after harvesting.

In the first year of a raised bed, you are welcome to plant high-growth crops, as these can make very good use of the natural fertiliser boost. The following belong to the heavy growers: Potatoes, artichokes, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, celery, many types of beet, cucurbits such as cucumber, courgette, pumpkin and melon, and cabbage. Lettuce should be planted in the second or third year.
Raised bed made from pallets: Add flower boxes from the pallet feet

The sides of the raised bed can also be planted with a little effort due to the structure of the pallets. It’s great for planting herbs or flowers. I simply screwed on some old boards as a base. You can simply line the wood with some foil, for example. To allow excess rainwater to drain off, you should poke a few small holes in the foil.

However, I opted for an upcycling idea: I used old plastic rain gutters that I sawed to the right length to create sturdy plant bowls that fit perfectly into the opening of the pallet feet.

Do It Yourself: Building a Raised Bed From Pallets

Advantages of a raised bed at a glance

Earlier and longer harvest: Because of its higher position, a raised bed can be better warmed by the sun and has a higher soil temperature due to composting. This allows the vegetables to ripen faster and the harvest is more plentiful.

Protection from voles: The wire mesh at the bottom of the raised bed prevents rodents from digging their way up.

Protection from slugs: The bordered bed can be protected from slugs more easily than the bed in the ground.

Use of garden waste: Leaves, lawn clippings and straw bale residues can be wonderfully incorporated into the soil and act as a natural fertiliser.

More comfortable gardening: The working surface accommodates the gardener in the raised bed and does not require bending and stooping of the back.

Independence from soil quality: Since the raised bed is stocked with different layers of soil, the soil there can be adapted exactly to the needs of the vegetable plants. This means that even if the soil in your garden is poor in natural ingredients, you can still enjoy a rich harvest.

The idea of a raised bed has convinced you, but you don’t have the time or the possibility to build it yourself? In the Waschbär-Shop you will find various raised beds and accessories.

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