Our CEO Ian is passionate about recycling as much as he can, sharing ideas and caring for the planet so this is built into everything that he does. It is also the backbone to the values of Etikora. In this blog, he is sharing how you can upcycle garden pallets into intriguing and cleverly thought-out items of creative garden furniture.
Earlier this year I received a delivery of shrubs and bushes which I needed to strengthen my boundary hedges. At the same time, I used the opportunity to develop the wildlife corridors I was establishing in and around my property. These are currently home to a variety of flora and fauna; provide sanctuary to mice, voles, squirrels, toads and home to a multitude of birds including robins, tits and finches. In addition, there are the larger bird species such as crows, magpies, pigeons and even parakeets!
Having unpacked and planted over two hundred plants I was left with two wooden cage pallets, one large and one small. These were not well assembled and some of the struts had been damaged.
Always on the lookout for ways to reuse I did a bit of creative thinking and came up with the idea of upcycling the pallets. I decided to turn the larger one into a small garden shelter or gazebo and the smaller one would make a rather attractive planter.
Like most tasks I undertake I get fired with enthusiasm and always underestimate the amount of time and effort that will be required. It took me a few weekends to see the fruit of my labours. First, I assessed what could be left in its original condition, what could be improved and what needed to be replaced. Then I stripped out a lot of superfluous wire, clasps and staples and pushed the frames back into their original shape. Both items needed sanding down, I replaced a couple of the badly damaged struts and removed the hinged front which had acted as a door to access the shrubs.
The Garden Gazebo
The larger cage pallet was the major work, and this took a considerable amount of time to strengthen, make useable and upcycle. I decided to do as much work off-site as possible and only move it into position when near completion.
Once the structure was sound, I sanded it down by hand and then put on a couple of coats of the most eco-friendly wood preservative I could find. I still miss the wonderfully evocative smell of genuine creosote but none of us miss the toxicity it produced.
I decide to site it in a small area of wild trees and shrubs and angle it to make the most of the panoramic view of the garden. I excavated down about 40 centimetres which was tricky as it was mainly roots and rubble. Then I removed intrusive branches from the surrounding area but left enough foliage to maintain a natural look.
I levelled off the excavated area with fine rubble and sand and placed as a base, another wooden pallet that I had stored away, courtesy of a previous delivery of something or other.
Once I was happy with the firmness of the base, I hammered in some metal supports to give it stability and then placed the cage structure on top and secured it by various clamps and tie-offs.
If I’d have had the time, I would have made the seat myself, but I found a cheap one on eBay and saved myself the trouble. Finally, I cut and secured a piece of corrugated roofing to give a slight overlap all round preventing wet necks from dripping rain.
The finishing touch was to plant a honeysuckle and a clematis at the base and hopefully, within a year or two, it should provide the perfect haven for a morning coffee or an evening glass of wine in my garden gazebo.
This was a much easier task as it was in a sturdier condition and only needed minor repair work. Sanding down and removing superfluous nails and staples did not take long and after two coats of preservative (nature friendly of course) it very much looked the part.
I have no idea what the cost saving was in real terms, but I do know that it gave me an enormous amount of satisfaction in my garden with my upcycling. With my creative gardening I produced two items that are both functional and decorative and made from material that would otherwise have been discarded and thrown away.