DIY Pallet Top Garden: Using the most of your space to create a garden friendly for chickens and people!

What does one do when they come to realize they are spending $80 a month on feed for their 8 fluffy awesome chickens?

Yes, catch your breath for a minute. You read that right, $80 a month.

The answer is: become creative and find ways to SAVE money while still feeding your girls right. By not being able to free-range the girls, I can feel a serious dent in my pocket which has forced me to think creatively so we can save a little bit of money.

Initially, we planned to have 4 - 4×8 garden beds next to the chicken coop. When we realized we needed more space for the girls, the additional two garden beds got the boot. We used free pallets to make an extended chicken run that comes off of our original chicken coop.

Why pallets?

Well, for one, they’re free. And two, I had a genius idea that I wanted to implement: converting the tops of the pallets into mini container gardens for herbs and shallow rooted veggies. These herbs and veggies would feed both us and the chickens (but probably mostly the chickens) AND make up a little bit for the space we lost with the other beds. Plus, it’s making the most of our space by growing vertically — which I LOVE (I also love this book on vertical gardening ideas).

AND, when everything is in bloom and in full maturity, it’ll be beautiful which outweighs the ugliness of the pallets now.

I know, I’m a genius.

Converting the tops into planter boxes was a little time consuming but the end result was totally worth it.

To Make the DIY Pallet Top Garden

Basically all you need is:

  • pallets
  • weed fabric
  • a staple gun
  • box cutter
  • staples
  • dirt/compost to fill
  • seeds (I get my seeds here)

The first thing I did was measure how long and wide each pallet top was. Then I cut a piece of weed fabric using a box cutter (scissors are NOT the one for this job) about 5 inches LONGER than what I originally measured. This first long, narrow strip was going to “cradle” the weed fabric container. I wasn’t sure how heavy the dirt would be when completely filled and drenched with heavy Florida rain which is why I added it. I started at one end of the pallet container and stapled the weed fabric then stapled the other side. I also made sure to staple the bottom on each side to keep the “cradle” tight.

Then, I went back and cut the next piece which would be the actual container part (as you can see in the first of the four images above). If I can remember, it was about 16 inches by 25 inches. There were a couple of pallet tops that differed in size so the measurements will depend on what you have. I also allowed for extra weed fabric so I could have enough to bunch together and staple on the inside (top right photo). This is so the soil wouldn’t fall out when I put it in there and watered.

I stapled everything tightly to ensure the container was sturdy to hold soil, water, and full grown plants.

Also, make sure you don’t cut the weed fabric (which I made the planter “boxes” out of) when it’s super windy outside and you’re by yourself. It’ll feel like you’re spinning around in circles and not getting anywhere.

Herbs and Veggies I Planted

Now, I’m sure this goes without saying, but you have to be methodical in what you choose to plant. Most herbs will fit fine but veggies are another story. As a general rule of thumb, you want shallow root veggies like lettuce, kale, spinach, argula, etc. Keep in mind, there are many varieties so you can simply fill your whole pallet top garden with the same veggie but with five different varieties.

A big factor in deciding what I wanted to plant was if the chickens liked it too. I wanted to make my pallet top garden chicken and human friendly so it’s dual purpose. I also planted some marigolds and a calendula flower.

Herbs I planted: lemon balm, dill, this basil mix from SeedsNow (which now I think may be too big for these planters), and sage.

Veggies I planted: summer bib lettuce, rainbow chard, kale, spinach, parsienne carrots, sparkler radish.

I definitely recommend checking out SeedsNow and using their seed finder tool. You can choose your zone and plant personality (great for containers, for example) to find the perfect herb and veggie seeds to create your pallet top garden. Learn more about SeedsNow here.

What I Filled My “Boxes” With

You can go for your normal potting soil but I decided to do use a blend of different soil amendments. I used the “base” amendment that I did for my square foot garden beds (1:1:1 of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss). Then I also added some regular potting soil and a few cups of worm castings for extra nutrients.

I would say, it took me about 10 5-gallon buckets about 3/4 filled to fill all the “boxes.” Once I filled the boxes about 3/4 of the way, I used the mister setting on my garden hose and drenched the soil so it would pack in. Then I went around and added a little more soil if I needed to.

I’m super excited to see how everything pans out in the next month or so with these seedlings. I hope this has inspired you to create a pallet top garden — no matter what size!

This post is sponsored by SeedsNow and contains affiliate links. However, the opinions and photos are of my own. Authenticity is important so I would never promote any brand or product that I wholeheartedly don’t believe in. My readers are my number one priority and I always recommend companies and products that I believe will benefit my readers.

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    1. Can we see a current pic of how your project looks a year later? I have pallets and I need a garden and your idea is the genius one that popped up!

  1. Great idea! But the minute I read the title (from your sprouting article) I wondered, ‘Why just the tops?’ With a little rearranging, you could stagger the pallet slats (by, say, removing one from each side and them adjusting the layout accordingly), slip some weed fabric in and attach to the insides (haven’t figured out if this part is best done while the pallet’s separated, or later), fill the whole shebang with planting media, and plant the tops AND the sides. Voila! Much more growing possible. ‘Tis a thought… =)

    1. Very good thought Kat! The only reason I opted for just the tops was because I still wanted light to shine through (it gets a lot of afternoon shade). But yes, that’s definitely an even better way to maximize your space!

  2. I have three beautiful hens (well at least I believe they are hens) they are 3 months old. I also have a clumsy saint Bernard and a border collie. How sturdy is the pallet fence?

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