On a homestead, fencing is one of the most crucial things you never really think about. Your fence needs to be sturdy, long-lasting, and right for the job. But most importantly, it needs to be as low-cost as possible. Fortunately, pallet fences check off all the boxes for an ideal off-grid fence.
You can easily find free pallets, they have a strong design and you may customize them to suit your next homestead project. Follow these simple steps to learn how to build a pallet fence for free, and different ways to incorporate them into your yard.
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Why Build a Pallet Fence?
Other than being cheap to build, pallet fences have many more benefits for your yard. Pallet manufacturers specifically build them to withstand very heavy loads without breaking, which makes pallet fences incredibly durable.
Because pallet fences come pre-made, it makes them easier to assemble into a fence. Think of each pallet like a fence section, instead of having to build each section, you just have to connect sections into a fence.
Additionally, pallet fences can easily be moved, replaced, or changed to your liking without too much hassle. Utilizing them in your yard for a new purpose gives you a chance to use pallets, upcycle old building materials, and save money on fencing costs.
Where Can I Find Pallets?
Many small businesses and warehouses that receive large shipments usually have piles of extra pallets stacked behind their buildings, waiting to be disposed of. Most recycling and disposal companies charge extra to take away pallets, and businesses want to avoid this additional cost. So what better idea than to offer to take them away for free?
You probably already have an idea of a business near you that has piles of pallets, but if not, just take a drive around the alleyways and parking lots of commercial areas near your home. You will almost certainly start noticing pallets lying around. Approach some of those businesses and ask for them, they’ll most likely say yes.
If you live in a bizarre land of no pallets, you do have the option of buying them. The Uline website sells recycled wood pallets in packs of 10 for $200. Each skid measures a standard size of 48” x 40”, making each pallet exactly 4 feet long. So $200 will get you 40 feet of fencing. Clearly it would be better for free, but if you don’t have a huge yard this would still be an economical option.
And by the way, while you're at it, look for free concrete blocks, also called (incorrectly) cinder blocks . Learn how to build a cinder block garden if you want an inexpensive raised garden for flowers, herbs or vegetables.
What Are Pallet Fences Good For?
Due to their design, you need to know what pallet fences should be used for. They provide excellent protection against larger animals from entering your yard or homestead, but gaps in the slats allow smaller critters like rabbits and squirrels through. Also, if you stack the pallets on top of each other, you will be able to protect from animals with higher climbing and jumping capabilities.
At the double-stacked height, pallet fences give vegetable gardens and micro-farms much needed protection from deer and other foragers in our area. If you want to keep rabbits and smaller animals out as well, simply staple some chicken wire to the inside of each pallet to completely seal your yard.
If you raise micro livestock like rabbits or chickens on your homestead, pallet fences make crafty runs and outdoor pens. Use pallets to create an easy and low budget area for your animals to forage outdoors. Don’t forget to add chicken fencing though, you want to keep your animals in, and the predators out!
What to Watch Out For
This might sound obvious, but make sure all the pallets you use have the same dimensions. Many different types of pallets exist and have various uses for certain industries. You don’t want a lopsided fence, so double check you’re getting pallets with identical dimensions to ensure the continuity of your fence.
Before you assemble the fence, make sure each section has no visible cracks, splits, or broken nails. Depending on the age of the pallet, they can get beaten up over their lifetime, with certain slats cracking or having nails come out. Fix any pieces you need to BEFORE you assemble the fence, it will be much harder afterward.
You'll also want to watch out for using pallets that were treated with any chemicals. This is especially true if it will surround a vegetable garden. After all, you don't want any poisons seeping into food to feed your family.
How to Build a Pallet Fence
Depending on your specific project and fence dimensions, your exact amount of skids will differ. However, the fundamentals of building a pallet fence remain the same.
You will need to use 4x4 posts to anchor the fence properly. As with anything, you can take shortcuts if need be, but I don’t advise it. Standard pallets each weigh 40 pounds alone, so you want to make sure they’ve been anchored properly.
Dig your post holes 80 inches apart or the width of two standard pallets. Pour the concrete and set the posts as you would with a regular fence. Slide the pallets over top of each post. A 4x4 post should fit perfectly into a standard pallet. Once complete, fasten the pallet to the post with 2-inch screws. Finally, attach the two pallets to each other with 3-inch screws.
To make a gate, simply add a latch and hinges to a pallet and decide where in your yard the gate should be positioned. Depending on how it works out, you may want to add a standard metal fence pole or something similar next to the gate for the latch to connect to. It can be difficult to get a pallet to latch onto another pallet or post perfectly every time.
Don’t forget, if you want a lower fence, or need to customize specific dimensions of a pallet to fit your yard, you can cut them down to size. Cut along the same direction as the slats run, and trim off height by the number of slats you remove. Because you only have to cut through about 3 - 4 pieces of wood, it doesn’t take too long.
Get Creative With Your Pallet Fence
The example above outlines just one of many ways to make a pallet fence. Depending on your own creativity and innovation, you can make pallets into just about anything.
Some people like to pull each slat off, cut the tops, and create picket fences. Some people stain or paint the pallets to make them prettier. You can even make tiny little garden boxes inside the gaps at the top and middle of each pallet section, or use them as a climbing trellis for specific plants in your garden.
Figure out what you need, and customize a pallet fence to fit your garden. If you’ve upcycled pallets for any creative uses at your home, let us know in the comments below.
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