CRAFT: Vertical Garden

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Add extra flavor to your dishes with homegrown herbs (and really, does anything taste better?) —INGRAIN, Summer 2019

STORY / Christina Perozzi

In Chicago the biggest roadblock to our ability to grow more than a pot or two of rosemary is the lack of space. If you also live in a tight urban space, make a vertical herb garden. Problem solved.

You can use almost anything that you might fish out of a community recycle bin: an old dresser, trellis, a piece of wood fencing. We made ours out of something we always have plenty of in the beer business: a wooden pallet.


1 pallet

1 roll landscape fabric

2 large bags (2 cubic feet each) good-

quality potting soil

14 to 16 herb seedlings



Protective gloves & eyewear

Circular saw

Garden or kitchen scissors

Staple gun & staples

Box cutter

4 mounting brackets (optional), one for each corner of the pallet. Use brackets if you want to hang the pallet; I’ll be propping mine against a wall on my balcony.


Hit up your local craft brewery or any other small business with a shipping-and-receiving warehouse. Or post a request on a neighborhood social media site (NextDoor) or another online service to search for free pallets (1001pallets).

–Businesses often pay a service to haul off unused pallets. Let them know up front that you’re willing to pick them up.


1. Use the sandpaper to sand away any chipped wood. Inspect for and remove stray nails, if needed.

–Pallets are built for industrial use. Wear those gloves!

2. With a circular saw, cut the pallet vertically on the right or left side of the middle board to create one smaller pallet box. (Put on protective eyewear.)

–If you’d like a larger frame for your garden, use the whole pallet.

3. Lay the pallet on the ground with the back side (the side with the largest spaces between planks) facing upward.

–This will be the side attached to, or leaning against, the wall.

4. Pull the landscape fabric snugly across the surface of the pallet. Make sure it covers the entire inside of the front of the pallet. Use scissors to trim the fabric, but leave several excess inches at the top. (You will be filling the soil from here and closing this later.) Staple fabric in place around all edges except at the top.

–Make sure the fabric is tight enough to keep the soil from falling out.

5. Repeat, this time using a piece of fabric to cover the outside (the back) and the sides of the pallet; it should be completely enclosed (other than still at the top). Staple the sides, bottom, and corners securely. Staple some more, just to be sure. Attach the mounting brackets, if using.

–The more staples, the better! You will be piling in a lot of soil.

6. Raise the pallet upright. Fill the opening at the top with potting soil (pack down the soil), making sure to tap the pallet on the ground to level the soil. Fold over the fabric to cover the top and staple shut with the remaining landscaping fabric.

–Before filling, move the pallet to—or close to—the location where you want to use it. The planter will be very heavy once filled with soil.

7. Place the pallet on the ground. Carefully make slits in the fabric with the box cutter. The planter pockets should be just large enough for the seedlings to fit inside.

–With a pallet planter this size, you should be able to fit about 4 plants lengthwise in each row.

8. Transplant a seedling to each planter pocket and water liberally.

–Tuck the plants snugly into the pockets so they don’t fall out when the pallet is lifted.

9. Place the pallet upright in the desired location.

–Make sure that the pallet gets plenty of sun, and remember to water every day.

10. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Pairing This project pairs perfectly with a Natural Villain (Goose Island) or a 312 Dry- Hopped. Both are refreshing and delicious.