Go Sky High With Your Garden


6 Easy Steps to Your Own Pallet Garden

Vertical gardening has become more and more popular every year.  One of my favorite types of vertical gardens are made from recycled pallets!  I have created pallet gardens for both edibles and ornamentals, and have also offered workshops to make your own for many years.  With the urban and suburban sprawl in the DC Metropolitan area, where I live, many people don’t have the space for a traditional garden – or maybe you just want to do something DIFFERENT…so instead of growing out, lets grow UP!

Supplies needed:

  • Empty, clean pallet with all boards intact (Check out http://www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety/ for info on pallet safety with edibles)
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun
  • ProMix potting medium
  • Organic fertilizer blend  – Plant Tone, Green Sand, Rock Phosphate, Garden Gypsum
  • PLANTS!

Step 1: Lining your pallet

This can be a one man (or woman!) job but it’s much easier if you have a buddy.  Here you’ll want to line the pallet all the way around with the landscaping fabric (except the front, where we’ll be planting our plants).  I always try to do it with one large piece instead of cutting it up and lining each side separately.  You want to make sure it’s tight, as this is what’s holding the soil in.  The top of the pallet I typically line separately since we’ll be removing that portion at a later date when we stand the pallet up.

Step 2: Adding Potting Medium

Next we want to fill the fully lined pallet with potting medium.  I usually use ProMix Organic Herb & Veggie as it’s a lighter soil…and organic!  Lay your pallet down flat and start scooping!  Be sure to fill in, leaving ruts between each slat (where our plants will go).  I try to pack the bottom pretty tight – don’t forget this will be standing up so stuff can shift a little.  You don’t want to leave room for much movement.  The top doesn’t have to be packed as tight since we’ll be planting there later on.

Step 3:  Don’t forget to fertilize!

I like to use a blend of 4 fertilizers – and I use this blend in ALL my container gardens, so this is a cocktail to always keep in mind when potting…and it’s organic!  My very unscientific method is to take a small scooper and spread a thin layer of each of these products down each row where we will be planting.  When you’re done, rake your hand over each row to slightly blend.

Step 4:  Planting

Now for the real fun to begin!  Get your creative juices flowing – choose your plants and how they will fit in.  I often choose to do an all edibles and then a separate one for color, but feel free to mix it up.  The options are endless!  If you choose to do edibles, I recommend to use herbs and/or cool season leafy veggies, i.e. lettuce, spinach, violas, etc which you can grow two seasons per year – spring and fall.  Summer veggies (tomatoes, squash, eggplant, etc) just grow too large for the pallet.

Once I pick out my plants I line them up in my pallet before planting.  This way I can play around and switch things around if I want to.  So now I’m ready to plant!  It’s as simple as popping them out of the pot and inserting them into the pallet where you want.  Don’t forget to break up your roots like you would if you were planting a container garden or into the ground.

Step 5:  The Backfill

Now that we have all or our plants in the pallet where we want, we’re ready to fill in the gaps with more ProMix.  Fill in and push down tight, just like in a container garden.

Step 6:  Water and Wait

Okay, we’re all done planting so just water these guys in and set for about 10-14 days for plants to grow in a bit.  The root growth is what’s going to help keep these guys in place once we stand the pallet up so water regularly.  Once the pallet is ready to stand up we can remove the landscape fabric in the top and plant something fabulous there!  Tada!!!  Your vertical pallet garden is complete!  Have fun harvesting lots of goodies or simply admiring its beauty throughout the season!

Pro tip:  When watering while vertical I use a watering wand.  The water spray is gentle and thorough.  Be sure to water the top and some will drain down, but also water the body of the pallet as well.

Have fun and please share your own pallet gardening experience with me! Whether you’ve done it before, or starting now, I want to hear about it!

If you have any questions about any of these steps, please ask me for more info/photos. I have more to share!

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Winter Container Gardens…How do you do?

Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you have to drop gardening for the season.  There are still so many options for the cool (or cold!) season.  Think about cool season annuals such as ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, and even snap dragons. Perennials such as euphorbia, carex, acorus or evergreen ferns…and of course evergreen shrubs – the opportunities are endless! Below are some of this years containers to get me through the winter. What are you doing to get your gardening fix this winter?


Far Left: Kale Red Bor, Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Snapdragon ‘Liberty Bronze’, Heuchera ‘Black Taffeta’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ – Little Bluestem, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ – Golden Japanese Forest Grass
Far Right: Kale ‘Winter Bor’, Cabbage ‘Pigeon Red’, Carex ‘Evergold’, Euphorbia amygdaloides hybrid ‘Helena’s Blush’, Ivy – Hedra Helix ‘Yellow Ripple’, Pansy ‘Matrix Morpheous’


Variegated Iris, Euphorbia x martinii Spurge ‘Ascot Rainbow’,
Heuchera Little Cutie ‘Blondie’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Orange Jump Up’,
Rumex sanguineus – Red-Veined Dock

Not everything in your containers has to be a plant…below I added some Red Twig Dogwood branches to add some height to this container. Also think about Yellow Twig Dogwood, Birch branches or Curly Willow. These can really add another element to your cool season containers.


Kale ‘Red Bor’, Kale ‘Emperor Red’, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance – Autumn Fern,
Muehlenbeckia axillaris – Creeping Wire Vine, Pansy ‘Cool Wave Mix’,
Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Pansy ‘Delta Premium Blotched Mix’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Blue Heaven’,
Variegated Vinca Vine

Don’t forget to jazz up your stoop or patio with a great seasonal container of fragrant cut greens…


For this arrangement I taped oasis floral foam into a mache liner and went to town with a few birch logs and my greens (the Carolina Sapphire being my fave this year!). I dug out some of the soil left in my container garden from fall that finally kicked it, and dropped this arrangement right in. Just be sure to keep it watered for long lasting results.

How are you celebrating the winter gardening season at your house? Share your gardening photos with me on my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/Petalpushin!

Top Performers of 2014 – What were yours?

Ok, Ok…I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me but it’s been a busy fall so far! A brand new nephew has arrived, a new deck was built (bigger and better for, you know, more plants!!) and of course lots of gardening! So fall is now in full swing which means dismantling of summer containers and digging out all those plants you want to save!  You know me, a self admitted plantaholic, so it’s quite a process for me to winterize, dig out and repot everything I’m trying to save from Jack Frost – which was late this year thank goodness.  I was trying to streamline and not bring in SO much this year…but that didn’t work out too well for me.  Anyway, that’s another post for another time!  Right now I want to share my favorite plants from this year and hear about yours!  Below are just a few of my favorite containers from this summer…


In this pot: Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’, Surfinia Heavenly Blue Petunia, Petunia ‘Suncatcher Pink Lemonade’, ‘Dreams Appleblossom’ Petunia, Lysimachia hybrid ‘Sundew Springs’, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Lantana camera ‘Samantha’


In the Blue pot: Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Mrs. Pollock’ Brocade Geranium,
Gazania rigens ‘Daybreak Mix’, Petunia ‘Potunia Papaya’, Lysimachia procumbens ‘Outback Sunset’
In the Black pot: Abutilon ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Heucherella ‘Brass Lantern,
Cuphea hybrid ‘David Verity’, Solenostemon scuttelarriodes ‘Lava Rose’ Coleus, Petunia ‘Crazytunia Sparky’


In this pot: Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Copperhead’, Abutilon pictum ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Pentas lanceolata ‘Graffiti Red Lace’, Dorotheanthus bellidiformis ‘Mesbicla’ Mezoo Trailing Red, Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Saturn’ Coleus


In this pot: Cassia didymobotrya Fresen Popcorn Cassia
(blooms all summer and foliage actually smells like popcorn!!!),
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (super for attracting hummingbirds!),
Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Inferno’, Surfinia Variegated Baby Purple Petunia,
Portulaca Cupcake ‘Peachy’, Crossandra infundibuliformis ‘Orange Marmalade’

And finally, my fall container on my front porch still going strong!!!


In this pot: Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jester’ Ornamental Millet, Nemesia ‘Sunsatia Lemon’,
Celosia caracus ‘Intenz’, Spilanthes oleracea ‘Peek-a-boo’,
Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ Sweet Potato Vine

So, who were your superstars this year?