When the snow melts and the scent of spring is in the air, folks around the country head out to their yards and start working on landscaping projects to beautify their properties. I enjoy these projects, but what I do not enjoy are the hefty charges on my credit card from Lowe’s and Home Depot. It seems that even the simplest landscaping projects cost a pretty penny, as supplies add up fast. A little trick I have learned is to skip the expensive supplies and use alternative options like old wooden pallets. I have used them for countless projects, as there are three places around town I can get them for free!
They can be taken apart and used in a number of creative ways. You can use them as-is if you prefer a rustic look, or finish them for a more polished presentation.
Once you have gotten your hands on some pallets, check them over for damage. Separate the damaged pallets from those that are intact. The pallets in good shape will get you more slats to work with, but damaged pallets will usually still have quite a few goods slats and rails.
Next, you want to orient a pallet so the slats run horizontally. The rails are the thicker boards on the edges and middle, and the slats are thinner boards used for the surface of the pallet. Some pallets have slats on the top and bottom, and these will give you more wood to work with. Next you can pull out all the staples with needle-nose pliers. Mark any nail heads you find on the pallet with a paint pen.
Get Out the Chainsaw
Now it is time to cut down the pallets to free the slats and rails. Start by snapping a chalk line down the left side of the right rail, making sure to avoid any nail heads. Before you start cutting get yourself some protective eyewear, ear plugs and a dust mask.
Follow the chalk line with your cut, carefully sawing through one salt at a time. Repeat the chalk line down the right side of the left rail, again making sure to avoid any nail heads. Make the second cut with the chainsaw, again going one slat at a time.
Once you have finished your cuts, stand the pallet up and knock the slats loose with a rubber mallet near the center rail. If the mallet won’t cut it use a pry bar to finish the job. When you’re done you should have nice clean slats that are around three feet in length.
Making Use of the Materials
The pallet slats and rails make a great outline for a garden, walkway or flower bed. Simply cut your slats down to the desired size and dig a trench where you want to place your border. Place the sections in place, ensuring that they line up properly and are all placed to the same depth. Finish by backfilling the trench so the dirt is level with the inside edge of your border.