By Julie Christensen
When you think of vertical gardening, do you instantly think of tomato cages and pole beans? Vertical gardening is a time-honored tradition in the vegetable garden for many reasons. First, a lot of vegetables grow better when planted vertically. Tomatoes, for example, suffer fewer plant diseases and produce better quality fruit when kept off the ground. Pole beans produce almost three times as many beans as their bush bean counterparts. Cucumbers trained on a trellis have straighter, healthier fruit.
Vertical gardening also takes up less space, making it an ideal choice for the urban gardener. Sometimes the main benefit of a vertical garden is purely aesthetics. Vertical gardens draw the eye upward, giving a sense of space and movement.
But the vegetable garden isn’t the only place for vertical gardening. Incorporate vertical gardening techniques into your perennial gardening, as well. A vertical garden project might be as simple as a unique arbor, or as complex as a mural designed with plants. Below, you’ll find 10 of our favorite vertical gardening projects.
1. For a truly original project, try wooly pockets. These felt-like pockets can hold up to 20 pounds of soil each along with almost any annual or small perennial. Because they’re made of a soft, flexible material, you can attach them to most surfaces. The pockets might seem fragile, but they’re designed to last 20 years or more. Visit Country Living to see a living wall made with wooly pockets.
2. If you’d like to grow a vegetable garden, but lack the space or time to care for a large plot, check out the Garden Stick. This durable plastic pipe has 14 holes spaced strategically over its surface. Plant one vegetable plant in each hole and you’ve got an entire garden in a space small enough to sit on your patio. The Garden Stick reduces or eliminates many of the challenges vegetable gardeners face, including disease and weeds. This clever system also conserves water. For more information, head over to the Garden Stick website.
3. How about using recycled materials for vertical gardens? Country Living repurposes old rain gutters for growing plants, but you’re limited only by your imagination. Try old cans, wide shutters or even burlap bags.
4. Speaking of repurposing, try using a canvas shoe holder for a vertical herb garden. Fill each compartment with rich potting soil and tuck an herb plant into the space. Water drains easily from the canvas fabric to ensure adequate drainage. Head over to Instructables to learn more.
5. Turn an ordinary garden path into a mysterious secret garden with inexpensive metal hoops. The hoops are designed to create an elegant, but simple, arbor for twining vines. Visit Better Homes and Gardens to learn more.
6. Ordinary fences do double duty with a little extra planning. Learn how to build a fence with small wooden pockets. Tuck herbs, lettuce and other small edibles into these pockets for a fence that is beautiful as it is useful. To learn more, head over to Pinterest.
7. Climbing roses take center stage when given a sturdy arbor for support. Turn an ordinary garden gate into something extra special when you combine roses with lavender, irises and other complementary perennials. Better Homes and Gardens shows you how.
8. If you’ve ever visited historic farms or gardens, you might have seen rustic trellises and cages in the vegetable gardens. These devices have a charm not to be found in any commercial product. They can easily be disassembled for storage over the winter and reassembled in a snap. Best of all, they’re made from materials found naturally in your yard. To learn more about rustic trellises, visit Vegetable Gardener.
9. What is it with kids and forts? Kids are naturally drawn to forts made from any material—couch cushions, old sheets, cardboard boxes, and best of all—plants. You’ve probably heard of pole bean teepees, but this sunflower fort is extra special. Sunflowers provide the walls, while morning glories make a charming roof. Learn everything you need to know at Vegetable Gardener.
10. For a truly spectacular piece of living art, try planting succulents in a wooden frame. Because succulents are drought tolerant, this project is suitable for almost any climate. Visit Sunset Magazine’s website to learn more.
Did we miss any other cool DIY or commercial vertical gardening ideas? Leave a comment so that we can keep adding to the post!
When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her garden, which includes perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.