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A Succulent Wall How-To

2011 August 6
by Steph Lawrence

UPDATED: I need to make clear that in my post I was re-creating a project originally posted (with video!) by Fern Richardson on her blog, Life on the Balcony. I regret not making that more clear originally.

I am very single-minded (my mom calls it stubbornness…). I am terrible at being told “no” and when I get an idea in my head can’t rest until I’ve gotten it. I fixate on whatever has captured my imagination and doggedly pursue it until it’s mine. Occasionally they are good ideas, often not. Sometimes they involve laborious do-it-yourself projects that I like to rope unwilling accomplices into helping me finish (hi Spencer and Craig).

This happened a few weeks ago when a friend sent me this link. It captured my imagination and I decided I needed one, immediately. I have been obsessed with succulents, of late (come on. cutest plants, ever. no contest), so decided our patio needed a succulent wall garden of its very own. One blog how-to, one obstinate person-who-hates-idle-weekends, and 36-hours later: BAM. Succulent wall garden of my own.

Turns out the process wasn’t actually so laborious and the fruits of the labor are WELL worth it. I am pretty in love with our latest patio addition. The whole project start-to-finish took about four or five hours. Here’s how to make your own. You’ll need:

    - A pallet (I found mine for free at a local garden store — mine measured 25 x 38 inches)
    - Roll of landscaping paper
    - Staple gun and staples
    - Potting soil (I used 2.5 cubic feet for the 25×38 pallet)
    - Adorable succulents or other plants of choice


    1. Sand down any rough spots on your pallet.

    2. (Optional) If the back of your pallet doesn’t have much support (mine was basically open on the back), you can find some scrap wood and cut it down to the width of your pallet and add a few extra supports.

    3. Double or triple up your landscaping fabric and begin the stapling fun. Staple fabric along the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, taking care at the corners to fold in the fabric so no soil will spill out.

    4. Lay the pallet flat and pour potting soil through slats, pressing soil down firmly.

    5. Begin planting, starting at the bottom of pallet and ending at the top. Make sure soil is firmly packed in each layer as you move up.

    6. Water your wall garden and let remain horizontal for 1-2 weeks to allow plants to take root. You can set it upright at this point. Remember when you water to start at the top and water each subsequent section a little less, as your water will naturally seep through to the bottom-most plants.

27 Responses leave one →
  1. Joanne Gordon permalink
    August 7, 2011

    This makes me so happy. I have many succulents in my garden, but have never thought of a wall of succulents. You continue to amaze me with your recipes and thoughts on life. Thank you. Joanne

  2. Natalie Allan permalink
    August 8, 2011

    Stepho this is amazing. Just gorgeous! Love this site. Hugs to you and Crank!

  3. Carolyn permalink
    August 8, 2011

    So cool!

  4. August 8, 2011

    Steph that is absolutely stunning. If I didn’t live in NY I would definitely give it a try. Most succulents don’t like our weather. But my mom and my grandma were succulent queens and they are such a fascinating plant group. Well done.

    • Donna permalink
      March 27, 2012

      Try planting other plants in it! I live in NY too, and can’t wait for the warm weather to actually stay so I can try it with other plants. I was thinking maybe herbs mixed with small flowering plants. Guess I can plan what plants while waiting for the warm weather to come and stay!

  5. September 17, 2011

    You are killing me! Love it!

  6. September 25, 2011

    What an amazing idea!!! :D

  7. September 26, 2011

    Wow– that’s really cool. That’s a great walk through.
    Pallets are easy to come by locally. I built a shed in our backyard and it used up some of the light exposure available. I’d love to try to grow tomatoes or similar and prop up pallets against the shed wall to turn the wall space into growing space.

  8. Sherry permalink
    September 29, 2011

    I love this and think I would like to try it but do you plan to bring it in over the winter? I don’t think they would survive here over the winter outside.

    • September 29, 2011

      Hi Sherry, thanks for your comment! May I ask where you live? I am out in the Bay Area in California so I plan to leave mine outside during the winter, but depending on the climate you are in and also what kinds of plants you use you may want to bring it in for the winter. That being said, I don’t see any problem with having it inside — it is pretty self-contained with the plants and the landscape fabric on the back, so you shouldn’t have too much soil falling out. You may want to make a little trough for it to sit in so that you can water it without worrying about seepage, but other than that I don’t see any problem! Hope that helps :)

  9. October 4, 2011

    Hi Steph! Thanks for the mention. :-) Your pallet garden turned out beautifully!

  10. vicki mccormick permalink
    October 9, 2011

    So gorgeous and simple, will have a go myself. Thanks.

  11. Cynthia Lee permalink
    December 31, 2011

    This is the neatest idea. I just love it. I will definitely try my luck at putting one together.
    Thanks so much.

  12. Jan permalink
    January 2, 2012

    Can’t wait to make this

  13. Anna Doll permalink
    January 17, 2012

    I live in Atlanta. Do you think I could do this with drought-resistant plants like periwinkle as well? There are some succulents that can handle hot, humid weather, but I thought adding periwinkle would add some pretty color.

    • January 18, 2012

      @Anna, You could try, that certainly sounds like a nice idea, my only suggestion is to choose plants that require similar kinds of water and care. I am not familiar enough with planting periwinkle but if it is drought resistant that is certainly a good step. I found my local nursery was very excited when I told them about what I was doing and they were really helpful in selecting appropriate plants for my climate and this project, so I would also suggest reaching out to them for ideas. Good luck to you!

  14. Lisa permalink
    May 5, 2012

    I just finished my vertical garden and I love it! It was fun to do. When I bought the succulents, I found that almost every plant was so root-bound that it could be subdivided, so I got a lot for my money. Pretty project!

  15. marisa obregon permalink
    June 27, 2012

    gracias por compartir es sencillo economico y muy bello!!!

  16. Nancy O'Donnell permalink
    March 18, 2013

    What state do you live in? Could this grow in upstate New York?

    • March 18, 2013

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for the comment. I live in California, so it is a bit better weather for succulents, here. That being said, succulents love hot weather, mostly dry, so a they could do just fine in a New York summer. You can also swap out for whatever plants your local nursery has that they suggest — even an herb wall garden. Hope you enjoy the process whatever you create!

  17. May 2, 2014

    I made a fence from 3 pallets and can’t lay them down to put in plants and soil but want to make it a succulent fence. Is there anything I can do to be able to do this?

    • May 3, 2014

      A succulent fence! I love the idea. I think you can definitely make it work; the lying down is to give the succulents some time to put down roots, but succulents are pretty hardy plants and plenty of succulents grow in wilder, vertical locations. Just pack down your soil and make sure the plants are pretty packed in to help them root.

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