It really makes me very happy that gardens in the UK are slowly moving away from perfect lawns and manicured flower beds. Although I love the symmetry and order of French gardens and Italian gardens, there’s a rustic charm that comes with slightly chaotic cottage gardens and vintage decor.
As gardeners embrace a “looser” style to their gardens, we’re also seeing a trend for unique, handmade furniture – often the result of DIY projects. What’s the best material for these rough-and-ready builds? Well, more often than not, it’s the humble pallet.
There are several reasons why DIY garden pallet projects are popular. First, there are an abundance of pallets – millions of them are used every year in retail and shipping – so they’re easy and cheap to get hold of. Because they’re designed for transporting heavy goods, pallets are also really robust, and come in practical proportions. You don’t need to worry so much about measuring when your materials are already standardised!
Finally, there’s the aesthetic that pallets can bring to a garden. Old pallets come in fantastic, pre-weathered wood with a beautiful patina, instantly creating a charm and homeliness. Even if you source relatively new pallets, they come as a perfect blank slate, ready to be painted or sculpted however you need. The result is a beautiful piece of pallet furniture that’s totally unique and bespoke to your garden.
So, ready to save some pallets from landfill and start getting creative with some bespoke, DIY garden pallet projects?
DIY Pallet Planters
Using old pallets to build raised garden planters is one of the most popular upcycling garden projects. However, there are all kinds of pallet furniture ideas for displaying plants. Pallets are typically made from sturdy, weather-resistant wood, and come in uniform sizes, making them pretty much the perfect material for DIY. Plus, they’ll age beautifully.
Here’s what a classic raised planter made from a reused pallet looks like. Fresh, functional, and especially attractive when combined with contrasting shapes and colours, like the pebble border and the round pots on either side.
Leaning a pallet against a wall is an easy way to create a low-cost, rustic plant stand. This idea is particularly useful if you’re renting (and don’t want to drill permanent shelves anywhere), or need ways to squeeze extra greenery into a small garden.
Like the rugged look of an unpainted pallet? Me too! There’s nothing wrong with leaving your wood pallet raw and exposed. To emphasise the old wood, stick to simple plant pots – like this collection of terracotta.
When you’re organising a limited planting space – particularly a vegetable patch – adding a bit of height can help you keep things separate. In this kitchen garden, pallets have been used to create an area to grow catnip, away from the other veggies. It’ll help you keep track of what’s what!
Here’s a different way that you can use deconstructed pallets to display your plants, that needs just two strong hooks in your wall. Take a flat section of the pallet and screw your pots or planters directly to the wood. Then use two loops of rope to hang the pallet to the wall hooks, adding more sections below if you have more plants.
Why use part of a pallet when you could use the whole thing? On this rustic wall with exposed brick, pallets have been painted white and fixed to the wall as a support for flower boxes. I like how hanging baskets have been added to the bottom, giving the whole display extra dimension.
Okay, I can’t even pretend that this isn’t just another version of the same thing – a whole pallet, on a wall, filled with flowers. I’m just obsessed with how pretty this one is! One thing to think about is that herbs grow particularly well in small spaces, so if you like growing things you can use in the kitchen, a pallet garden like this is a good choice for that.
DIY Pallet Seating
Building seats and benches from recycled pallets is a fantastic project for DIY beginners. As you’ll see in this section, lots of designs don’t actually need to you to disassemble the pallets at all, and you can focus on securing them together, giving them a lick of paint and adding accessories.
A set like this is incredibly simple to make, with each section needing two pallets for the base, and one for the back. By painting the bench grey, it blends in with the background and gives the spotlight to the pretty blanket and outdoor rug.
If you’re dealing with pallets in slightly different colours, painting everything a uniform shade – like this modern grey – will tie your furniture set together. Add seat cushions in the same shade, and stick to a pared-back colour scheme for your other decorative elements. This balcony/roof terrace area looks cosy and chic with its monochrome palette.
Need some extra outdoor storage? You could use the gaps between the slats to hold drawers, like the bench on this balcony. They’re not exactly going to replace your shed, but if you only need to store some small gardening tools and seedling trays, they’ll do nicely.
As you can see, this furniture set is made completely from pallets. I particularly like the practical features here – casters on the coffee table so you can move it around, and hinges on the stool cushions so they can be used as storage. The deep blue cushions look luxurious and inviting, too!
I always think a hanging chair or swinging bench adds so much personality to a garden. I love egg-shaped hanging seats, but I’m even more impressed by this DIY swing bench! It looks like it still needs a coating and some cushions though – we’ve got a whole post with ideas about styling hanging garden chairs, if you’re interested.
I am very inspired by this set of pallet sofas with matching coffee table. The stain makes the set look really sophisticated and professional, and I love the way the table has room for a plant, lantern or other pieces of garden decor in the middle. It actually looks like the table and stools are made from reclaimed crates – perfect if you can’t find enough pallets to build everything you need.
These multi-purpose pallet benches are ideal for a mixed-use garden. It looks like they’re being used as both plant displays and seats – although a quick shuffle around could quickly transform them into a serving surface for that garden BBQ area. If you use your garden for different activities across the seasons, it’s often best to keep your furniture simple.
Turn a couple of pallets into a breezy cabana by adding a couple of branches or poles, a wide piece of fabric and a squashy pillow. It’s an easy way to upgrade your pallet furniture for summer, and can easily be removed again for winter.
DIY Pallet Garden Accessories
There are almost too many DIY garden pallet projects to choose from, but if you want something more unusual than planters or seating, here are a few pallet ideas that will definitely wow your garden guests.
Need a table to go with your garden chairs made from pallets? Well, this one might not be the one, because you’d never guess it was a pallet in its former life! The paint work really adds a punch of personality too, proving the pallets don’t have to always look rustic and rugged. Get the guide to making this from manomano.co.uk.
Fed up of your wheelie bins spoiling the beauty of your garden? Building some bin storage is the way to get your aesthetic back. If there’s a particular nook in your garden that you want to transfer into bin storage, a DIY build will enable you to get the measurements exactly right. This bin storage and log store actually looks incredibly cute!
This mini greenhouse made from pallets is a rewarding project for anyone with a green thumb. The hinged front makes it easy to reach in and access your seedlings, while the small footprint means it’s ideal for snatching sliver of sun in even the smallest of gardens.
Maybe you’ve already got a full-sized greenhouse, but feel like you’re forever taking stuff in and out. Save yourself some effort with this big garden caddy, made from – you guessed it – pallets. This two-level monster will help you cart plants, compost and gardening tools to wherever they need to go. Of course, you could make yours smaller if you need!
The summer of 2020 saw a huge surge in garden bars and home pubs. Building your own bar out of pallets is a fun DIY project and a low-cost commitment, but can look fantastic. Just a few homey touches transform this garden corner into a sophisticated space for summer drinks – check out our page of garden bar ideas to see heaps more ways you can build a bar from pallets.
If you like the idea of a garden bar, but don’t want to scare your neighbours with a whole stand dedicated to drinking, how about something on a smaller scale… Like this fold-out bar with a door that doubles as a table? All you need is a couple of bar stools and to keep it stocked!
Pallets are also useful shelves for man-caves and she-sheds. They’re perfect for holding just a few things without encouraging clutter. If you’re trying to make a garden room cosy, just add a few candles, a vase filled with battery-powered fairy lights, and a bottle with some glasses for the occasional nightcap.
Is one area of your garden particularly precious? Pallet fencing looks friendly and pretty, but will keep boisterous pets or curious kids out of a tender vegetable patch or away from toxic blooms. I really like how this fence has used the depth of the pallets and flower boxes, too!
Here’s another example of DIY garden pallet projects that can be used as both planters and fencing. This style would give you a bit more privacy, and would work well as a divider in a long garden, or as one side of a pergola.
A small stack of pallets is perfect for building a large-scale bug hotel, if you have the room. Fill the gaps with various organic materials, like tiles, hay, pinecones and pebbles to create a home for nesting insects. Take a look at more garden bug hotels for ideas.
Interested in DIY garden pallet projects that are about sustainability? You can use pallets to create dividers for a garden compost heap and keep your compost pile contained. It’s cheaper than buying a standalone compost container, although you will have to turn your compost manually. Not sure what that means? Our guide to composting has all the tips you need.
You don’t necessarily need to build anything to make the most of pallets in your garden – sometimes, taking the pallet apart is enough! I think this wooden walkway looks fantastic, and would be right at home in an enchanted garden, or even a minimalist, Japanese-style garden. What do you think?