Learn how to build this Soil Sifter to use in your garden. This inexpensive pallet project sieve will sift out large clumps of compost, dirt, and debris for a better garden!
Why do you need a Soil Sifter?
A soil sifter or sieve is a very helpful garden tool for many reasons. Whether you’re starting a new garden or maintaining an established one, your plants will thank you!
Why you should use a sieve in the garden
If you plan to grow in a new or lesser-used area, you’ll often find that the dirt is densely compacted and contains rocks, sticks, and other debris. If you take the time to sift the soil through a sieve, your plants will have a much easier time pushing up through the soil and establishing their roots.
Sifting aerates the soil, will improve your water drainage and will make it easier for any nutrients you’re feeding the plants to reach the roots. It also generally makes it easier to dig, making your garden time more enjoyable!
Why you should use a sieve for your compost
When you’re composting, you naturally want that beautiful, crumbly new soil as your finished product. Depending on when/what you add, the temperature, and other factors, you may take a big scoop out to find it’s not quite ready for the garden!
If you have large clumps, food that has not yet deteriorated completely, or twigs in your compost, this could hurt your garden. Instead, you can easily use a soil sifter with your compost! This prevents the unwanted or unfinished components from reaching your garden and makes it easier to dispose of them (or toss them back in to finish decomposing).
Add this fresh, sifted compost as topsoil to your garden bed, heavily water it, then allow it to rest a few days before planting. Your plants will love it!
Materials for a DIY Soil Sifter:
How to Build a Soil Sifter
Step 1: Decide how or where the Sieve will be used.
I have an old lawn wagon/wheelbarrow that I will use–It measures 44″ x 33″. I will lay the sieve across the wagon and have the sieved compost fall into the wagon. If I ever have plans to use the sieve in the garden to remove the rocks from my soil, I will then build a set of legs for the sieve to rest on during use.
Step 2: Select materials needed to build your Sifter.
When shopping for the metal cloth I had my choice of 24 or 36 inches wide. I chose to go with the 24-inch roll to keep the Sieve as lightweight as possible and still meet my needs. I have some pallet stringers that are 47 inches long and slats that are 42 inches long–They will work nicely.
This project will call for 160 inches of stringers and slats stripped down to 1 ½ x 1 ½. I am doing all this to have a lighter-weight sieve for easier storage and transport.
Step 3: Cut your boards as needed and dry-fit the pieces to make sure everything is ready for assembly.
Begin by squaring the ends of each board; this makes assembly much easier. Using a table saw or circular saw, rip the stringers and slats down to 1 ½ x 1 ½ inches. The measurements for the boards are as follows:
Sideboards are 47 inches long. The two end pieces and centerpiece are 22 inches long.
Step 4: Assemble the frame.
Check each corner with a square to make sure everything will fit tightly. Predrill each board before securing the pieces with 2 ½ screws. Predrilling will prevent the boards from splitting, and it makes it easier to hold the boards in place as you secure them.
Measure and cut the wire cloth to length (a pair of offset wire cutters make this job much easier, gloves are nice also). Now you are ready to secure the wire cloth to the frame.
Begin by tacking one corner of the wire cloth to the frame, matching the other three corners to the frame, making sure everything lines up. Once everything lines up, you are ready to secure the wire cloth using staples or nails with large flat heads (roofing nails are great).
Step 5: Finish the Sieve.
I guess you have been wondering why you cut the slats, well now you’ll see. We are going to attach them to the frame, over the wire. They will serve two purposes. The first is to prevent the wire cloth from poking you when you are near the sieve, and the second is to help prevent the wire from pulling away from the frame.
DIY Soil Sifter
And there you have it! A lightweight sieve you can use for your dirt or compost. Your garden will greatly appreciate the higher-quality soil, and your back will appreciate not needing to pick rock and debris out by hand!
Using finer, well sifted soil will improve your water drainage and give your plants the best opportunity for success. Sifting your compost makes it easy to only add the great new soil ready for the garden.
More Pallet Projects
Pallets are an inexpensive material for many home and garden DIY projects! With lumber prices soaring, you can dismantle a pallet to make your projects much cheaper. Here are some of my favorite DIY pallet projects:
- This DIY Ladder Shelf uses the most beautiful Herringbone Pattern!
- Combine pallet wood with an old picture frame for this lovely DIY Shadow Box.
- This Pallet Book Shelf for Kids allows you to display their favorites either on a table or on the wall!
- Turn your yard into a winter wonderland with this Christmas Tree, Snowman, and Gingerbread Men made completely out of pallets!