Got some old pallets lying around? I have some perfect, no-fuss upcycling ideas for the garden and allotment for you this autumn!
If you’ve ever wondered where insects go for their winter holiday, this is it: a multi-storey penthouse apartment! First, choose a site on firm ground, so your Grand Plaza doesn’t turn into a leaning tower of beetles. A damp area will attract ladybirds and woodlice, while solitary bees might like to do a bit of sunbathing on the top deck.
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Layer bricks and pallets like you’re making a lasagne, and create holes of different sizes. Fill the gaps with a mixture of ingredients: loose bark for beetles, reeds for bees, stones for toads and straw for ladybirds. After three or four tiers you can add a roof of pallet slats.
A completed Bug Mansion
Instant raised bed
Pallets can be turned into quick raised beds with minimal effort – and are great for gardens with limited space or poor soils. Best of all, elevated soils warm up quickly so you can sow earlier in spring. Raised beds are also more comfortable to weed and work around.
A quick raised bed
To make, staple-gun some landscaping fabric to the bottom and sides of your pallet to stop the compost falling out. Fill with peat-free compost mixed with a little grit and well-rotted homemade compost for structure. You can paint your beds different colours and plant short-rooted salads, round carrots or ornamental cabbages between the slats.
Ornamental cabbages work well for instant colour
Vertical veg patch
Small garden? Time to grow up! This colourful, edible planter is a great way to fit more veg into an urban garden or hide an ugly corner at the allotment.
Perfect for hiding what goes on behind the scenes
Paint the slats and allow to dry. Choose contrasting buckets to display edible flowers such as Sweet William and cut-and-come-again salads. Herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary will also tolerate the drier conditions. Remember that small pots dry out quicker, so add water-retaining gel to the compost mix in the summer.
Mix and match colours to suit your area
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Greenhouse space is at a premium in winter and early spring so an old pallet can come in very handy as a cold frame. Raise it off the ground on bricks and stuff the sides with straw or other insulating materials. Then, pop your pots of overwintering plants, seeds or seedlings into the gaps. Layer pallets on top of each other to create more depth for deeper pots or taller seedlings. This design also works well as a raised bed on areas without soil, such as a playground or patio.
Horizontal greenhouses give you that little bit of extra space
This living wall art is perfect for trailing flowers and creeping bedding plants and can be propped against a fence or hung on a wall.
To make, staple-gun landscaping membrane to the back and fill with a mix of peat-free compost and well-rotted homemade compost. Lay it on the ground so you can plant between the slats, and leave for a few weeks so the roots can weave a tight carpet before tilting to stand.
Be carefel when standing the pallet upright
Be pallet safe
Untreated pallets that have not been stamped with codes or numbers are best for edible garden projects. Heat Treated (HT) or Kiln Dried (KD) pallets are also okay – but ensure they are not stained or colour treated. Avoid any pallets stamped with the letters ‘MB’ as this code means the pallets have been treated with methyl bromide, which is a very toxic insecticide.