Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Pallet Garden & AC Screen

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Pallet Garden, Pallet AC Screen

Hello, fellow lovers of all things green,

Lake Shore Park etched in a large grey flat stone overlooking a large lawn,, trees, and glimpses of a river.

Lakeshore Park, Knoxville, TN

What a whirlwind trip, venturing to Tennessee to attend my nephew’s wedding. Ellie in tow, brother Rick suggested a lovely walking spot in Knoxville called Lakeshore Park, with spectacular views of the Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains. What a glorious day!

The next day, we had brunch at Rick and Paulina’s. It was fun to see the digs I had heard so much about. Recall Rick’s rose dilemma caused by tent caterpillars shared in mid-June. Since then, they often think to “Ask Mary.” Such a good little brother…

Brother Rick’s clever pallet solution to screen his AC:
the corner of a red brick condo with a grey pallet garden to screen the AC filled with sedums and herbs.

Rick’s clever Pallet AC Screen

Before the trip, we chatted about his pallet solution to screen the air-conditioning unit only a few feet from their seating area. Filled with herbs and succulents, “it helps buffer the noise too,” Rick touted. I replied, “I wrote about vertical gardening a while back, and I’m sure dear brother, you know it’s best not to grow things you eat in pallets.” Uh oh, Rick didn’t recall the column.

Pallets are often treated with toxic chemicals to prevent the transport of invasive insects and plant diseases, as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) requires. However, companies are starting to use heat treatment rather than chemicals, which overcomes some of the worry of reusing them. Pallets require an IPPC logo, with initials if heat-treated (HT) or fumigated with Methyl Bromide (MB), and include the initials of the country where made.

It’s best not to grow food in pallets. 

After our gourmet meal, I couldn’t wait to see their outdoor living space behind their condo, which is cute as a button and functional, too. I congratulated his ingenuity as he described how he pieced the pallets together so that no posts were needed, allowing for a section to be removed should the AC need serviced. In addition, he left a six-inch gap at ground level to allow airflow. Leave it to an engineer to think of such things.

His clever pallet screening is stained grey to match their wooden table and is adorned with comical face sculptures hidden behind an assortment of succulents and herbs. “Impressive, my brother! A perfect way to solve the in-your-face AC dilemma.”

the top view of a grey pallet garden surrounding an AC unit.

Top view of Pallet AC Screen – perfectly engineered!

A spare pallet was leaning near the grill with no logo indicating MB (nasty chemicals) or HT (heat-treated). But even if heat-treated, my brother, it’s best not to grow food in pallets because no one knows if something toxic spilled on it, where it was warehoused, or how it was transported. Like Mom used to drill into us, “Don’t put that in your mouth – you never know where it’s been.”

Garden dilemmas? and your favorite Podcast App.

Column Post updated 1/28/24

Penn State Extension article – Be Safe Around Wooden Pallets!

There’s more to the story in the Gaden Dilemmas Podcast (@ ten soothing minutes)

A 2024 Update! 

My brother Rick listened to his big sister’s advice and retooled the feature using composite decking material. I did some due diligence to ensure that that composite deck material does not leach plastic and seems perfectly fine. However, I’d still prefer cedar or other natural wood if you’re growing food. But for sedums and other plants, you done good, dear brother :^)

a birds eye view of a man and woman wearing socks with flip flops.

Rick is styling Paulina’s garden “shoes.” I am donning Ricks. Now I know what to give you for Christmas :^)

a grey composite wood AC screen with pockets of sedums and other plants.

2024 Update! Brother Rick’s new AC Screen using Composite Deck Material.

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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