Thursday, February 12, 2015

In The Garden, Part 3: Some of the Best Things In Life Are Free!

When spring fully arrived last year, things began to get a little wild.

It was time to think about boundaries.

I know that there are lots of folks whose motto is, "Don't fence me in!" 
While I do love my surprises- volunteer plants, pets, etc., I like having boundaries, too. 
Especially when they're free.
(It's almost an oxymoron- free boundaries.)
Today's post is about tidying up without really tidying up, and how to do it on the cheap.
First, though, I wanna show you my birthday present from last year.
 My fella got me 2 cubic yards of compost!

garden gold
Compost, safely stowed beneath the tarp

This brought our tread-beds up from empty promises, to bonafide planting spaces:

tread beds
tread beds

This was the largest expenditure made, to improve our space. Second was the cost of plants- some things are best purchased as seedling, like tomatoes, some herbs, and peppers. Other things just sorta popped up from outta nowhere!
Take the sunflower, above, between the treads- it was eventually about 6' tall, with a stalk like a small tree!
We still don't know where the seed came from.

And there was the surprise pumpkin, too- in the end, it turned out to be the best pumpkin plant of all!
(This was where I'd dumped the prior year's Halloween pumpkin guck- it was a great surprise.)

suprise pumpkin plant
Pumpkin of Mystery

So, now that you've seen the most expensive addition, and the surprises, have a look at some of the free stuff we brought home, and what we did with them.

free yard items
Standard Pallets

One of the very best, totally free things that you can get is pallets. A lot of people think of the standard, flat pallet, when they're thinking of building stuff, but there are a LOT of other types to choose from!

free garden supplies
Walled Pallets
If you want some variety in your pallets, I recommend that you check a variety of places for 'em. Some examples: shops that sell heavy equipment, mowers, or appliances. The "walled" pallets, pictured above, were originally used to transport implements and loader buckets for small tractors. You can also find "glamor" crates- basically, premade planting boxes- at these venues. Another great place to get these odd-sized pieces: gym suppliers! But try to think of other places, too, that sell heavy, oddly-shaped items- there's a remarkable variety of pallets and their kin out there, just waiting to be discovered and reused. Ask around- you'll probably find that business are just HOPING someone will take 'em!

mini pallet
Mini-Pallet & Tractor Seat Planting Station

This mini-pallet came from Gym Outfitters. Add a tractor seat and an old mailbox, and you have a deee-luxe potting station!

And almost ALL of these fences? Sides from walled pallets, mostly from gym suppliers. You don't even really have to do anything fancy to 'em- just remove them from the base, straighten the metal connectors...

fence connectors

...and install your fences!

free fencing

The Big Guy surprised me with these. I would come home at lunch every day, and find a new fence! He even came up with this, so that I could continue to roll the wheelbarrow around the tread-beds:

Removeable corner piece
He designed a corner access for me- totally removeable!

It supports itself, due to the angle- no staking needed. In fact, almost NONE of our little fences have ground-staking- they're supported either by nearby walls, or self-supporting. This allows us to change our arrangements on a whim.

Other things can be made out of pallets, too.

Firewood and Pallet Wood Storage Unit

With nothing more than a few metal brackets and screws, The Big Guy also created a terrific storage solution!
This is where the evil-lookin' woodpile wound up, along with many random boards.

Inevitably, some boards will break when you disassemble your pallets. We even put those to good use! Broken boards + Magic Markers = plant stakes!

Plant Stakes

The Mister also continued his pallet walkway, with more odd-sized flat pallets.

Any ideas for the red metal engine guards? Anybody...?

Aaaand then he built some more fences.

Here are two other projects that started that week- the first, using rocks & sticks that were just layin' around-

And finally, my "flower" fence.
The Big Guy was working at a dollar store, last year. He brought me flowers!
(And eye-screws. Lots and lots of eyescrews.)


A standard 3/8" eyescrew will hold the stem of the average dollar-store fabric pinwheel, and allow it to rotate with the wind. Instant color, and it couldn't be simpler to install 'em!

I'll leave you with this image:

Pinwheel Garden
Does anyone want more info on pallet fence construction, or sources? If you'd like to know more, comment below- I'd love to hear from you!

And don't give up. Winter can't last forever!



  1. Thanks, you guys! I'll try to get more posted soon. This was only the start- it got better. :)


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