Monday, November 21, 2011

Vertical Gardening - The Experiment

Before I show you how I did this project please understand it's an experiment in progress.  Just so you know, my experiments don't always work out.  My kids still remind me about the yucky brownies I made with pureed spinach.

That being said, I'm really excited to see if this is going to work.  I've been intrigued and obsessed with vertical gardening for quite awhile now.  One of my earliest posts when I first started blogging was about vertical gardening.

My vertical garden started with blog land's favorite project starter at the moment, 
the all versatile wood pallet. 
I picked up this pallet from the back of my local grocery store for free. I didn't steal it, I asked the store manager if I could have it. She said I could have any of the ones that didn't have red or blue paint on them.
(The marked pallets are owned and reused by their vendors.)
 Mine was damaged.  I couldn't find one in pristine condition.  This pictures shows I have already removed the back cross slats.  Keep these as they will be added back on to the pallet later.

I found this vertical pallet planter at Life On The Balcony
Isn't it pretty? 
Notice it's resting on the ground outside.

Here is where the experiment comes into play. 
Do this project at your own risk, I'm still in the experimental phase and I'm not sure what the long term effect on my interior wall will be?
Yes, I typed interior wall.
This isn't a new concept. 
You can buy prefabricated interior vertical garden kits online but they are pricey.

Woolly Pockets

Two Big challenges I needed to address to make this project work:
1) The weight of the pallet needed to be secured on the wall, wet soil is very HEAVY.
             2)  It needed to be waterproof so the drywall wouldn't rot and grow mold. (water = damage)

This is not one of my best tutorials, I missed taking many steps of pictures due to muddy, stained, and bloody hands.  Also, I had to go back and repeat steps when the first attempt was abandoned.

I first determined where it was going to hang in the house.  I didn't take pictures of how I hung it on the wall, but this is what I did.  I sunk a 2 by1 horizontally the width of the pallet through the drywall and into the wall studs with long wood screws.  Then I hung 3 hooks with 100 pound each weight allowance on the 2 by1.  I'm hoping this will support up to a 300 pound object.  Cross your fingers. 
 I would NEVER put something like this above where people and pets could be crushed if it pulled off the wall.

Again this is an experiment in progress.
I figured how I was going to hang the pallet before I planted it.
Here is the trial run on the wall.  I stained the whole thing with a dark stain and repaired the damage.

 I brushed a gray wash over the brown stain because I thought it was a little too dark.  Next I wrestled a chicken wire frame to the inside of the pallet.  No pictures of this step because I was busy bleeding.  My arms looked like I tried to give a cat a bath after the chicken wire step.  
I will wear long sleeves and gloves if I ever use chicken wire again.   
This is a picture of the front.

I started by making a chicken wire shelf behind the top horizontal front slat but I baled on this idea for the next slat below after cutting myself up on the chicken wire.  This is picture of the back.  The chicken wire is stapled to the inside back and sides of the pallet.

 On attempt number one I used this potting soil, big mistake for an indoor planter, stinky!
I put the whole thing together plants and all before I realized, hey this thing stinks, I can't put it in my house.
I had to deconstruct the whole thing back to the chicken wire and wash it off to remove the "dairy smell."

 I added a layer of pond liner behind the chicken wire to the back and bottom of the pallet.  I used a staple gun to attach the liner and sealed it with marine grade silicone.  I wanted the back to be waterproof because it would be resting on the drywall.
Next I used wet moss and lined the sides and bottom of the inside of the chicken wire to contain the dirt.  I added a second layer of pond liner to the inside of the chicken wire.  The moss along the sides hides the pond liner from the side view.  At this point, add the back cross slats back onto the pallet on top of the pond liner to add support.   I added floral foam to the bottom and lower sides to absorb any water that seeped to the bottom of the pallet.  At least that's my idea of how it will work, again this is all a big experiment.  I have concrete floors in my family room.  I wouldn't attempt to hang this in a room with hardwood floors or carpet. 

I switched out the "dairy dirt" for cactus mix.  I couldn't find large bags of indoor potting mix at Home Depot this time of year.  Christmas has taken over the indoor plant section and I was to lazy to make a trip to the plant nursery.  I used almost 2 cubic feet for the pallet. 
Pack it down firmly to prevent the dirt from shifting.

I used succulent cuttings to plant my pallet.  Not sure if they will thrive on an interior east facing wall?  To see how I propagate my own succulents go here
I added an orchid that was finished blooming to the top of the pallet.

It took me, my husband, and our 14 year old daughter to hang this.  It's really heavy! 
So far the hooks are holding. 
We hung it under my metal hanging planter light.

The succulent cuttings need time to fill in, if they live at all in this spot in the house.  I chose succulents as apposed to more traditional house plants because of their low water requirements.  The more I need to water, the more likely I'll have water damage. 

I can be patient and let everything grow.

I'll let you know how the experiment works. 
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the succulents thrive and I won't be doing any drywall repair anytime soon.

Have you added any vertical gardens to your home or garden?
I would love to see them.

Thanks for checking it out.


  1. I really hope it works for you, Shannon! It sounds like such a neat idea! Fingers crossed! :)

  2. That is amazing! We our gosh awful forced air heat in the winter...don't think it would fair too well in our home, but you have the perfect climate. I really hope it works! Can't wait to see it fill in.

  3. How awesome! I cant wait to see it when it starts filling out. I love how you put the orchid on top.
    Had me laughing over the pureed spinach brownies. Really? Poor kids.

  4. Oh my goodness - how creative! It's beautiful! I will be interested to see how it goes along - I love the idea and would love to try it outdoors next spring. (and cow poo often does smell like, em....cow poo...hee,hee!)

  5. This is great! I had seen wall gardens made from old picture frames, but the pallet lends the entire endeavor a rustic quality that is juxtaposed by the soft organic shapes of the succulents...this is much better than using pictures frames I do believe. Love it!

  6. That is awesome! Keeping my fingers crossed that all goes as planned. Can't wait to see the progress!

  7. This is the most creative thing I have seen done with a pallet! I love it! I hope it all works out for you!


  8. Thanks for the post mate you have written it very well.


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