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Create a Rustic Backyard Design with Recycled Pallets

Aug 5, 2013 | Lawns


Washington DC | Maryland | Virginia

Finding a suitable garden location can be difficult, especially since yard space is a commodity and you should take into account the need to keep plants safe from children and pets. For this reason, an elevated garden box is an ideal backyard design solution. Not only is it visually appealing, but it will also keep your plants safe. Garden boxes can be very costly, especially if you are looking to grow multiple plants. Fortunately, these can be quickly and easily constructed using free wooden pallets. This project will make rustic 2’x2’ vegetable boxes.



  • Hammer or crowbar
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Box of screws


Here’s how:

  1. First, you will need to find a suitable wooden pallet. Most businesses are more than willing to give these away for free. Start your search by looking online or in newspaper classified sections for free pallets. If there are none listed, visit your local hardware store and inquire about any extras they may have. Since you will be growing food in your vegetable box, avoid soliciting businesses that may have used the pallets to ship or store chemicals. Hardware, furniture, or mattress stores are likely to have a steady supply of palettes that will be clean and free of chemicals.
  2. Once you have brought your pallets home, you will first need to disassemble it. Most pallets consist of three 2×4 pieces of wood connected by multiple boards. Begin by using your hammer or crowbar to separate the boards from the three joists. This may be a delicate process depending on the age of the pallet you are working with. Don’t worry if some of the wood splinters off; there will be extra wood on either end that needs to be cut off before constructing the box. Carefully remove the nails from the boards.
  3. Each box side will consist of four boards. To make sure the boards form a 90 degree angle, cut eight boards to be 2 feet long, and cut an additional eight boards to be 1’11”. When assembling the box, alternating these two cuts will create a clean corner to the box. Next, cut four pieces of 2 x 4 to about 1’8”. These will be used as posts for each side of the box.
  4. Now that the materials are ready, construction of the box can begin.  Using one of the pieces of 2×4, make a right angle using one piece of 2’ board and one piece of 1′ x 11″ board.  Repeat this process and then use the two remaining pieces of 2×4 to create a square. Repeat this step with the remaining boards until there are four rows of alternating boards on each side.
  5. When your box is complete, simply fill with dirt and then plant your vegetables. Stain can be applied to further enhance the natural grain and give it a more rustic appearance. Your plants can now be stylishly displayed in your yard in a container that was custom-built, eco-friendly, and of little cost to you.
Contact Johnson’s Landscaping Service for more design ideas or for a complete landscape makeover. We will assist you through the design process and help you incorporate other DIY projects into your landscape!

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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