Friday, July 8, 2011

Building Cheap Ass Raised Beds

Small garden

I have a guy. This guy that can get me some decent stuff of consistent quality and strength. Best of all, he's always got a fresh supply. Getting my hands on wood pallets has never been so easy. Now, the projects I'm building around the house are designed with pallet proportions in mind. And why not? Pallets have the best attribute a home tinkerer looks for in a raw material: free.

So after dismal soil test results forced us here at Peach Fuzz Farm to redesign our garden plan to incorporate raised beds, pallets were the logical choice for construction. With a few tools and about five bucks in screws and nails, I developed a quick deconstruction procedure to make garden walls. Let's go.

The tools

The tools. Plus a nail gun. And a clamp.

The raw material

The pallet. I used twelve of them, chosen because they were all 36" wide and built the same.

Removing unnecessary boards

Trimming off the unnecessary boards with a saws-all. So much easier than pulling nails. These boards became the infill panels.

Removing the middle

The midsections weren't of any use. Goodbye.

Pallet after saws-all

First stage with the saws-all complete.

Trimming the sides

Time for the circular saw, to trim the sides...

Almost done

And cut into two sections. The long side on each will be the stake.

A simple jig for cutting the stake

It's dangerous cutting stakes. Set up a jig.

Ready for install

Two sections from one pallet. Done.


Lining up staked side to free side for the 4lb sledge hammer.

Stringline and clamp

String line to make it straight.

Predrill and screw

Don't get lazy. Predrill, then screw.

A rustic, variable wall

Lovely, variable height for that rustic appeal the ladies love.

Infill panels

Infill panels created from the unnecessary boards. Nailed on.

Ready for dirt

Ready for some lead-free loam and compost!

Big Garden

The gardens at full tilt. Raised beds performing beautifully. Other free stuff includes steel pipe trellis for beans, baby crib tomato stakes strung together with stripped romex cable. Ghetto fab.

So, do I have you hooked on pallets yet? Do you need to find your guy? My guy is a tile and countertop store. Masonry and stone outfits are also a good bet. Grocery stores are alright too, but they're not as likely to give them away in any quantity. Pretty soon you'll find yourself sneaking around behind warehouses, driving slowly past fenced construction sites, and suspiciously eying piles of wood on your neighbor's curb. You're welcome.


  1. I used to clean parking lots for a "guy" at large industrial malls. Their shipping docks were loaded with pallets that I hauled to the dump for the "guy".

    Anyone that wants pallets should have no problem finding plenty, in good condition, and free.

    Did you seal or treat them at all with any preservative?

  2. I did not. The great part about being composed similar parts is that any section can be easily replaced. They're hardwood too, so should last a while.