Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trash To Treasure: Pallet Fence Project

I am so tired of chasing my garbage cans all over the yard and down the street on a windy day. We've had a lot of windy days lately! Furthermore, the cans look horrible sitting next to the garage. Plus there's all those random building materials and a pair of old tires someone dumped in our back 40 next to the garage. We tried putting the tires in our dumpster while we were remodeling, but the dumpster dude who picked it up after our remodel wasn't fooled and he pulled the tires out and left them next to the garage door. That's where they still were to this morning. So what's a girl to do with all that hideousness and no money to spend?

I was poking around on Pinterest the other day and came across a really clever project done by Desiree Guy over at Camelot Art Creations. She simply used an old wood pallet and some paint to make a really cute fence. Wouldn't you know that very same day I saw a stack of pallets listed on Freecycle? So I of course hopped right over there and put them in my little clown car. Have I told you about my car?

I brought the pallets home and stacked them in the ugly zone with all the other random building materials beside my garage of course! My husband came home and rolled his eyes at me. He's not a big believer in the whole "trash to treasure" mind-set.

So yesterday was the perfect day, sunny and not too chilly. I spread the pallets I got from a fellow Freecycler out on the grass to pick out the best one for the job. I was looking for one with fairly even spacing of the face slats, not too wide, not too broken, etc. Once selected I set about gently prying out the nails holding the face slats to the top board. They needed convincing with a pry bar and hammer, but I had to be careful not to break or split the wood.

Next I marked off a nice even triangular corner on both sides of the top of each board and cut those with a saw. I would have used my jig saw, but remembered that I didn't have any blades. I keep forgetting to buy those. Don't you hate that? So, my crappy circular saw it was! Once all the corners were nipped off I put the top board back in between the front and back face boards and re-nailed it about 2 inches below its original position. Lastly I cut the back face boards flush with the horizontal board I just re-nailed. I stood the pallet upright and it actually looked like a picket fence! Just that small symbolic language of "dog-earred" picket is all it takes to see this old wood pallet as a fence. We are talking about 20 minutes of time invested thus far.

Now, to get the little "fence" to stand up, the easiest way was to first make sure the ground was more or less level. I left it a little bit of a slope downward away from the house to make sure any rainwater would flow away from the house and not pool up. However, I didn't want it to be a hugely noticeable slope. Then I took two  welded steel fence posts (the sort you bang into the ground with a big hammer) and well... banged them into the ground with a big hammer. A 5-lb baby sledge to be exact. From there, I stood the new picket fence section up against the t-posts and ran several screws through the holes in the metal posts into the back side of my former wood pallet turned fence.

Two coats of paint, including the green metal t-posts on the back side, really made the whole "pallet" idea disappear and it truly looks like it was never meant to be anything other than what it is right now. Lastly, I decided it needed a little more cuteness, so I hung three flower pots on little cuphooks on the face of the new fence and put some pretty pansies in them.

As for those flower pots, they were 3 medium sized terra cotta pots I had laying around from last summer. I painted them with some leftover paint from my house colors to make them color coordinate and tie the whole look together. I also had an extra solar landscaping path light, so I drilled a hole in the top corner of the fence and stuck the solar light into the hole like a fence post lantern. This is really great when I need to take the trash out at night so I can see the cans (no I don't have a light on the side of my house!).

That's it. I spent a total of ZERO dollars. I used only free stuff, and items I had on hand left over from other projects. The whole project including painting (which was the majority of the time) was about 2 hours start to finish, including putting all my tools away.

So, if you find yourself in possession of some wood pallets, I challenge you to come up with something great and send me a picture of what you made!


  1. I LOVE it! I was searching for ideas for pallet fence around our pool this year since my toddler is now on the move! I feel confident it will look CUTE and not so "recycled" palletish as my husband feared. He is now on board to help enclose the pool with pallets. THANK YOU!!! Yours looks GREAT!

  2. I have a major league asshole of a neighbor, and I will be using your pallet fence idea to separate our properties.

    Thanks for the great idea!

    1. amen to that...ugly neighbor's yard is why I am putting up my pallet fence!

  3. Love this great idea. I was trying to figure out how to tie the fence to the metal posts. thank you.

  4. Thanks Jeannine! I used wood screws to attach the posts to the pallet. There are a series of holes in the post, so just pick 2 or three holes (top, middle, bottom?) and go to town!

  5. Do you know if you can put them posts in concreate? Im trying to build a little fence maybe 6 foot long to seperate our driveway and back yard

  6. You could use concrete I suppose. This would make the fence a more permanent feature. You would also need to fasten each pallet to its neighbor for a length of fencing. I wouldn't use the steel fence posts in that case, I would go ahead and measure out the spacing for each pallet and cement in wood posts, then attach the pallet from there. The beauty of the steel post system is that you can move it any time you need to. They do hold very strong just banging them in the ground. In my case, there have been instances where we needed to get a vehicle into the back yard to trim trees, so this works great for us.

    Good luck!

  7. Do the metal poles keep the fence stable? How are the metal stakes attached to the pallet?

  8. Hi Trevor,

    I've had the little fence for almost a year now. The posts have held it very strong even with wild winter winds banging the trash cans against it. The metal posts have holes every couple of inches along their length. I picked 3 or 4 holes and screwed directly through them into the wood with a long galvanized wood screw.

    Good luck!

  9. i see pallets when i drive, afraid to bring them home.but i do so love this whole project esp the solar light have brought it on .i have upside down tomato cages where i place my solar lights.kind of fun with night time and the floating lights. i had gold and silver ornaments on the other tines of the tomato cages but they broke in a big hail storm. too messy and broken glass everywhere.might use the plastic ones from dollar store.

  10. impressed with Molly's intelligence and courage
    "pretty clever that girl"wood fence pickets

  11. I uses 12 French provincial handles sprayed in a bright white oil base paint. cedar fence installation