Vertical garden. The term itself sounds like an oxymoron. Surely plants should be on the ground? If not, in a pot that sits on the ground right? That’s just the natural order of things.
So when one talks of a vertical garden, some creative thinking may be required.
How exactly would vertical gardens grow? Where is the soil? How do you water the plants? More so – which plants would be able to grow vertically?
Urban dwellers often don’t have the option to grow a garden due to lack of space. If they do have space, it is usually small and does not provide many gardening options.
Some may give up on the idea of a garden and cannot imagine their small garden flourishing.
A vertical garden is a perfect solution for aspiring gardeners with limited space.
“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan
Here’s how to make your own space beautiful and enjoy these benefits of a vertical garden.
Benefits of a Vertical Garden System
By planting upwards, anyone with a small space can exercise their green thumb. You will be able to plant vegetables, herbs as well as attractive flowers. Some of the benefits of a vertical garden include:
- Maximize limited space
When gardening is a small area, space is precious and should be optimized. Growing plants vertically allows you to grow as much as you would on the ground.
You can make outdoor areas such as decks, rooftops, and balconies luscious green spaces by creating vertical gardens.
- Create beauty and private spaces
Vertical gardens can create ‘garden rooms’ as well as hide unattractive parts of your yard. Using stakes and trellises for vining plants can make boring walls works of natural art.
You can also create a freestanding trellis which can work as a privacy screen. Plant ferns and vines to make a vertical garden to keep nosy neighbors at bay.
- Reduces pests & disease
By raising plants above the ground, you keep them out of reach of pests in the ground. They are also safe from soilborne fungus so your plants will be much healthier and will not easily rot.
Creative Vertical Gardening Ideas
‘Growing up’ is such a fun way of gardening, it could even be more exciting than normal gardening. Vertical gardens are visually interesting and are great for making unique greenery features.
There are tons of creative ideas for creating an aesthetically pleasing vertical garden. These are also functional and can be used to grow edible vegetables and herbs.
Here are some brilliant ideas to help you create a vertical garden.
Ladder Vertical Garden Trellis
Use an old wooden ladder for a unique vertical garden. You can also find distinctive looking ladders at yard sales or Goodwill for as little as $5.
Another great idea is to make your own ladder. Find even-sized branches and nail them together to make a ladder as shown in this tutorial.
The ‘moveability’ of ladders makes them easy to place and they can also be stored when not in use.
If you are growing sun-sensitive plants, place the ladder on the south side of your garden. To maximize sunlight, put the ladder against a wall along the northern edge of the garden.
For a simple vertical garden, just place pots of flowering plants on the steps. Look for big bright blooms that create a striking effect.
For vining plants, plant the vines and bury the ladder’s legs among them up to the bottom rung.
As they grow, guide the vine by tying the first few tendrils on the rungs until they naturally climb up the ladder.
Upcycled Vertical Garden
You do not need to buy expensive materials for this vertical garden. Use old tin cans to make an attractive DIY vertical garden.
Wash out the tins, remove the labels and punch a few holes at the bottom to help with drainage.
You can keep the original color or spray paint them for a brighter hanging planter wall. Simply attach the tins to your wall and grow your plants inside the tins.
Old soda bottles also make a functional hanging planter. For wall planter, cut them horizontally and use twine or string to attach them to a wall. You can even hang them from an overhead beam.
Another option is to cut the bottom of the bottle and seal the edge with duct tape. Make four small holes along the open edge and thread twine through the holes.
Line the inside with landscape fabric to keep the plant from slipping through the bottle mouth. Insert the roots of your desired herb through the spout and fill the bottle with soil.
This upside-down planter is great for small plants like basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and simple lettuces. They will grow facing downwards and make a convenient vertical herb garden.
Shoe Organizer Hanging Planter
This vertical planter can be made with a basic pocket shoe organizer, a metal pole, and hooks. Attach the shoe store to the pole at the desired height and make sure it will support the weight of the plants when watered.
Check the drainage of the pockets by pouring water into them before planting. If they do not drain well, make a few small holes that will work as an irrigation system.
Excess water will drip from the upper level to plants in the lower pockets. You can also plant flowers beneath the planter so no water is wasted.
Before planting, put some compost into the pockets and fill with soil leaving a 1-inch space below the rim.
This planter works best for herbs such as thyme, coriander, and chives. You can also grow mini-tomatoes, spinach, peas, and mustard.
Hanging Clay Pot Planter
For this type of vertical garden, you will need to find a number of pots with drainage holes. If they do not have holes, you will have to manually drill holes.
Cut and thread cord through a snap hook to the length you would like the planters to reach. To add a more striking look, thread rope along with the cord. Attach the pots along the cord at desired intervals as shown in this DIY tutorial.
You should note the size of the plants you plan to grow when they mature. When connecting the pots, leave enough space for them to grow upwards without restrictions from the pot above.
These planters are perfect for hanging vines or small flowering shrubs. You can make any number of columns and place them next to each other for a vertical garden with variety.
Vertical Succulent Garden
Succulents are a good option for vertical gardens because they do not require a lot of water to grow. They also grow slowly so once you plant them, you can forget about them and they will still thrive.
The first step to this DIY vertical gardening system is to choose a water-resistant frame and make a shadow box. This will house the succulents and their roots.
For the shadow box, join four pieces of wood in a square or rectangular shape depending on your tastes. If you are quite handy, you can make more creative shapes.
Measure the plywood to fit and attach it to the back shadow box, and fix a waterproof picture frame to the front. To make your box waterproof, cover the bottom with plastic or film.
Spread moist soil evenly in the frame, stopping just before the edge. Attach chicken wire across the top of the frame, stapling it to the edges, and make sure the soil is just below the wire.
You then take cuttings from mature succulents by cutting 2-inch long stem sections. Remove the lower leaves and let them dry for a day.
When planting, use a pencil to make holes in the soil and insert the cuttings in a gorgeous arrangement. Make sure the leaf rosette rests on top of the wire grid.
Place the larger plants first, interspersed by the smaller ones. For a stunning effect, place the cuttings as close together as possible and try to fill all the squares of the grid.
Leave the succulent frame flat for two weeks to allow roots to form. Try to place the frame against a wall that has some shade during the day, especially in very hot areas.
You will only need to water the frame once a month by laying the frame flat, watering, and allowing it to dry before returning to its vertical position.
Wooden Pallet Garden
This is one of the best ways to improve your garden on a budget. Wood pallets are easily available and you can even source them for free.
Visit your local hardware store where they might have extras or ask for scrap pallets at a building site.
Just make sure you know what the pallets were used for in case they came in touch with harmful substances.
Clean the pallet to get rid of splinters and nails and sandpaper the surfaces if necessary.
Cover the back of the pallet as well as the bottom and sides with landscape fabric using staples or nails.
Use moist potting soil to fill the pallet then plant your transplants very firmly into the soil.
It is advisable to choose leafy greens or bushy shrubs for these types of gardens. When they grow, these will cover the slats creating a rustic design against the wall.
Water will flow down the slats, creating an irrigation system to save water. You may however need to move the plants if they are overwatered to prevent rot.
Water the plants well and leave the pallet horizontally for a week for roots to grow and soil to settle.
After a week, lean your vertical garden against a wall with sufficient sunlight. Make sure to water each plant daily as such vertical gardens tend to dry out quickly.
This is one of the most eye-catching vertical gardening designs. By ‘planting a wall’ of greenery, this vertical garden will let you make the most of your space. Most of the ideas above can create a living wall if done on a larger scale.
Pallets can be joined together to create larger vertical gardens. Simply nail together four pallets and repeat the process above.
For a DIY vertical wall garden, make a shadow box similar to the one above used for succulent vertical gardens.
The only difference between this living wall and the picture frame will be the size. You can make it so that it covers an entire wall with a wider array of succulent plants.
If DIY isn’t your thing, many garden stores offer living wall planters that you can set up at home. All you would need to do is position it and plant away.
Make the Most of Your Small Garden Space
These simple tips will let you enjoy beautiful vertical gardening despite a lack of space. You could also go green and create a sustainable herb garden.
Here are a few more tips to help you create a stunning vertical garden.