Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Backyard Makeover: How to make a portable vegetable patch using a wooden pallet!

First up I'll give you some background info, our backyard is VERY small. It's approximately 7.5 metres by 4 metres. It is also raised up from our small patio area (i.e. there is a small retaining wall) by about 25cm. Also thanks to our builders who did a dodgy job attempting to landscape our yard it is also slightly sloped and over time has sunk even more. They also used building timber leftovers to edge the garden beds, which have now rotted away. So although when we first moved in it did look good it is now turned into a bit of schmozzle and in desperate need of an update.
And this is the best side!
Even though the weather is not great and only going to get worse as we head into the wet and miserable Melbourne winter our kids, like most kids, are always champing at the bit to go and play outside, only there is really nothing for them to do out there! We bought a tiny toddler slide but it didn't take long for even 19 month old Master Q to outgrow it, our little sandpit filled with water and can barely fit our two toddlers in it and there is only so much fun to be had picking up rocks!
Oh what fun!
So we are on a mission to make our limited backyard more  functional and 'kid friendly', giving them something to enjoy out there, even if it is rugged up in raincoats and beanies!
Our first and hardest task has been trying to get back to a blank canvas, it's very hard to clear things out and start again when you have nowhere to put anything! So far we have pulled out our overgrown small garden beds that border the backyard and topped them up with more stones thanks to our lovely and generous neighbour who over ordered for her backyard! We have also taken down our garden shed and husband has started to level out the area where the shed used to be to accommodate a small but much anticipated fort and slide with sandpit. Speaking of kid's playgrounds, one of my lovely friends and her husband (who is a builder) just built one of the most awesome cubbies and forts you'll ever see! If you want to check out the backyard every kid dreams of go to his building company Facebook page here.

To finish levelling off the ground we had to move my little veggie garden. I have to say its been incredibly neglected over the last year or two but I couldn't give it up for good, so to make more space I (yes I !) came up with the idea to put the veggie garden bed onto a wooden pallet husband had recently acquired for free and put it on wheels. This would mean I could move it into the sun (it was previously in a really shady part of the yard which didn't help my veggies) and move it when the kids wanted to play.
It did take a little longer than I had anticipated, but husband doesn't do things by halves so I know it will stand the test of time. So after another painful family outing to Bunnings (seriously is there any other kind?!) and 3 hours in the cold and wet weather it was finished!

The garden bed I have had for a while but the concept could also be used to move around a collection of pots as well.

He filled in some of the spaces in the pallet with some wood we had, added four lockable castors to the bottom, stapled some weed mat to the surface of the pallet and then used some brackets to stop the garden bed from moving on the pallet. Of course it will be really heavy once the soil it put back in so make sure you get heavy duty castors. Husband also made some holes on either end and added some rope to make it easier to move around.


Out of the way

I spent the last few hours of Mother's day planting out my little veggie patch, I think the planting process is nearly as exciting as eating your first homegrown veggies! Don't you think?
This is the first in what I am sure will be numerous posts on our little backyard makeover- stay tuned!
A note on using wooden pallets: There is a lot of conflicting advice out there in relation to using pallets to grow vegetables. Some articles I read said you shouldn't use pallets full stop. Others said you shouldn't use treated pine for veggie garden beds but my favourite gardener Don Burke says they are fine (preferably ACQ pine). My take from the numerous articles I read is that as long as the pallet has been heat treated (see below pic for an example of the stamp donating heat treated -HT) and not chemically treated and there haven't been any chemical spills on the pallet your vegetables shouldn't be contaminated.  Also in this case the pallet doesn't have direct contact with the soil so I think we should be fine.


  1. Looking forward to seeing your progress! Great idea for the vegie garden :)

    1. Thanks Sam, going to be along haul I think! How could such a small yard be so much work?!


Thanks for your comments!