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Pallet Gardening

Vertical gardens are all the rage and we are seeing them everywhere made from recycled pallets. From Pinterest to HGTV to all the decorating magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living, pallet gardens are everywhere! They are an easy way to garden vertically and there's so many reasons to do it: 1) space limitations, pallet gardens do not take up a lot space; 2) pallet gardens add an architectural element to outdoor decor; 3) fruits & veggie plants lend themselves to growing vertically, like cucumbers or strawberries; 4) increase your growing space. No matter the reason, gardening vertically can be fun and rewarding.... and simply put, pallet gardens look fantastic!

Many veggies and flowers are perfect for growing vertically, just be sure that what you choose has similar water requirements.


  • EDIBLES: strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, peppers-hot, peppers-sweet, squash, tomatoes, watermelon
  • FLOWERING PLANTS: begonias, marigolds, petunias, celosia, verbena, coral bells, impatiens
  • SUCCULENTS: portulaca, Ice plant, purslane, hens and chicks, sedums


We’ve assembled some quick and easy instructions to get you started. We sell two sizes of pre-constructed pallets for easy growing. The pallet is made of untreated pine lined with Typar landscape fabric to keep the soil in place.

  1. Place the pallet on end and fill with potting soil. Be sure not to pack too full so that the landscape fabric is bulging, but tap the soil down so it levels out.
  2. Pick out your plants to use for planting.
  3. Cut or use your fingers to create a small hole or planting pocket (about the size of the roots of the plant) and sprinkle in McDonald Greenleaf fertllizer.
  4. Place plant in the hole and use your fingers to cover the roots with soil.
  5. Space plants out on each row of the pallet. We suggest about 3 inches apart.
  6. Finish planting by adding edibles or flowering plants to the top of the pallet.
  7. Water. When you water, turn it vertical with the open side up and slowly water every 2-3 days during spring, and then almost everyday during summer. Sometimes, water may need to be added directly to young seedlings when pallet is laying flat. But, be sure to allow enough time for the water to seep down through the soil to get to the bottom plants.

Backyard Berries ~ So Berry Delicious!

Homegrown berries can be yours for the tasting, and growing them is easier than you think. When it comes to growing berries, strawberries are most likely the first fruit that comes to mind. While these scrumptious fruits are a popular addition to any edible landscape, there are other berry-producing plants that not only yield an abundance of fruit, but are visually pleasing in the landscape and work well in containers.

Berry selections available today offer gardeners a multitude of colors and flavors. Most need full sun and, with the exception of blueberries, need neutral soil. Nearly all small fruit plants and vines will grow successfully with moderate care - an application of fertilizer or compost, mulch for weed control, and regular pruning to aid in disease prevention and encourage large fruit.

With proper care, these sweet treasures will reward you for years to come. Shoot for a mix of different types and varieties that ripen at different times to extend the harvest season. Be sure to visit us during Berry Daze, May 24 – 26, at all McDonald Garden Center locations and enjoy juicy savings on all backyard berries!

Raspberries - plant late fall or early spring. Raspberries like full sun, however, they will tolerate some shade. Plant in acidic, composted soil and keep soil moist especially during the fruiting season. Raspberries spread through shallow runners so be sure to provide them with plenty of room to grow. Growth can be controlled by planting in raised beds, containers or by routinely digging them out. Prune plants after fruiting, cutting canes that produced fruit to the ground. Fertilize using a high quality fruit fertilizer.

Strawberries - plant in early in spring. Plant roots shallowly in soil rich in organic matter. Water deeply but allow plants to dry slightly between watering. Mulch lightly during spring, summer and fall to help keep soil cool and to help control weeds. Mulch heavily during the cooler months to avoid damage to crowns. Fertilize with a high quality fruit fertilizer, but avoid fertilizing late in the season as this can encourage new growth that can be damaged by early frosts.

Blueberries - plant in late winter or spring. Blueberries like an acidic, richly composted soil and prefer a full sun to part shade location. Blueberries have shallow root systems so fluctuations in water should be avoided. A 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch will help keep soil moist. Water regularly to maintain plant health and avoid leaf and flower drop. Prune lightly during the first 2-3 years to maintain shape. Mature blueberries should have older canes removed to encourage new growth. Fertilize using a high quality fruit fertilizer.

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Mandevilla... Up, Up & Away!

What travels up walls, drapes over trellises, climbs fences, can take the heat and offers non-stop blooms all summer long? Well it’s not Superman but it is super Mandevilla! Mandevilla, also known as Dipladenia, is a flowering, woody vine that is most popular with gardeners in warmer climates. Here in Hampton Roads, Mandevilla blooms late spring all summer long with an abundance of large, trumpet-shaped flowers against a backdrop of beautiful glossy green foliage. Blooming in variety of colors including white, pink and red, this summer climber can be trained up a wall, pergola, fence, trellis, porch post or even a mailbox.

Caring for your Mandevilla is easy as it has few requirements. They enjoy bright indirect or filtered sunlight, but can get burned in direct, full sunlight. Mandevillea requires a sufficient amount of moisture and well drained soil, but can survive short periods of drought. Applying a fertilizer periodically during the summer will also encourage blooming, so be sure to feed your plant a high phosphorus, water soluble fertilizer to encourage flowering. Pinching back every so often will also help to create a bushier and fuller plant. To pinch your Mandevilla vine, simply use your fingers to pinch off 1/4 – 1/2 inch off the end of each stem.

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You say tomato, I say basil.

Tomatoes and Basil. A perfect pair for every garden and every palette! There's no two edibles that go together better than these two garden favorites. Many people will grow a tomato or two, but miss out on the delicious rewards of growing basil. Basil is very easy to grow and can be squeezed in near your tomato plants. Some say that, planting basil within 18-inches of a tomato plant can actually improve the flavor of the fruit and repel many insect pests.

Basil is an annual herb and requires a warm, sunny spot to grow. It can easily be started from seed, but if you are impatient you can purchase them as a small plant. Basil is available after the threat of frost has past, typically around April 15. Look for it now at your local McDonald. Basil requires regular watering and you'll want to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. Basil roots will rot and kill the plant if they sit in water too long. Once your Basil plant is about 6 to 12 inches tall, you should begin harvesting the leaves. We suggest using the larger leaves first. Keep your plant from producing flowers by pinching off the flower spikes when they appear. By pinching off flowers, you'll help your plant produce more delicious edible leaves, and not waste energy on flower production. Try these customer favorites in your garden!

SWEET BASIL - A must-have herb for every garden. Best used fresh. Very aromatic with spicy flavor. Sweet Basil pairs great with tomatoes and tomato-flavored dishes.

LEMON BASIL - Known for its fresh, tangy citrus flavor and fragrance. Perfect for use in salads, dressings, vinegars, and fish dishes.

THAI BASIL - Characterized by its slightly sweet, strong licorice fragrance and flavor, it's also referred to as anise or licorice basil. Used as a condiment in Thai and Vietnamese dishes and great for stir-fried dishes.

PESTO PERPETUO BASIL - The beauty and flavor of this variety will earn a prominent spot in your garden. Stunning light green and cream variegated leaves make it an eye-catching gem. Strong enough to carry your best pesto recipe all by itself or to top fresh slices of tomato and mozzarella.

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