Vertical Gardens Are Looking Up

Vertical Gardens Fit the Bill When Space Is Limited

If your yard or garden area is short on space, consider a vertical garden.

Vertical gardens are an increasingly popular way to grow and maintain a variety of plants wherever space is limited. By creatively employing fences and trellises, for instance, you can create “living walls” of plantings.

These are great, of course, for city-dwelling gardeners who must maximize every inch of available space.

But they’re also handy for suburbanites who may be overwhelmed by the maintenance requirements of large garden areas.

And if you’d like to experiment with growing different types of plants without digging up a larger portion of your yard, a vertical garden could be your answer.

Selecting a Style

There are many different types of vertical gardens from which to choose.  One easy option is a container garden, where potted plants are attached to a wall or displayed in rows. Another popular design is a pocket-style garden; you can purchase ready-made “wally pockets,” or make your own with canvas or felt.

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Shipping pallets can also be used in a number of creative ways to build a vertical garden. Pallets are particularly popular for herb and vegetable gardening.

Pallet gardens are typically mounted to a wall, fence, or other structure. But if you’re handy, you could attach “feet” or other type of base, so that the pallet can be freestanding (for use on a deck or patio).

Design Ideas

There’s a plethora of design ideas available for vertical gardens. Here’s just a sampling:

A vertical garden can be placed indoors or outdoors, depending on the light requirements of your selected plants. For example, succulents (a popular option for vertical gardens) require “half exposure,” as opposed to full sun or full shade.

Choose Plants Wisely

While succulents are commonly used in vertical gardens because they’re low maintenance, herbs, vegetables, trailing philodendron and ferns will also work well.

When choosing plants for an edible pallet garden, for instance, look for dwarf or bush types of vegetables and herbs. Compact fruits such as strawberries are another good choice.

Peppers and tomato plants should be placed in the top section, because they’re the tallest and need room to grow. Pick compact tomato varieties wherever possible. Edible nasturtium seedlings will provide  a punch of color.

For all vertical garden designs, keep in mind the flexibility of the plants. For instance, woody varieties with rigid stems will tend to grow out instead of flowing down. So select herbaceous plants with soft, green stems.

In addition, it’s best to choose all-sun or all-shade plants, as they will grow well together. And consider the growth rate of the individual plants, too. If you place a slow-growth plant, next to one with faster growth, the more aggressive plant can crowd the other out.

Planting Basics

The number one rule when creating a vertical garden, regardless of design, is to use potting soil. This is key to retaining precious moisture. Vertical gardens dry out quickly, and potting soil is designed to hold the water in.

And be sure to take gravity into account. Water will be pulled down through your garden, so place the more drought-tolerant plants at the top. Plants better suited for wetter conditions should be placed closer to the bottom.

Another handy trick if you’re using a wooden pallet or container with panels: Grow the plants horizontally for a few weeks to let the roots establish themselves and help hold the soil in place.

Bear in mind that your vertical garden may require more attention than standard container plantings, at least initially. Also, be prepared to water your vertical garden frequently, especially while the roots are becoming established.

On a Grand Scale

The design of your vertical garden can be as simple or as grand as you can imagine. For instance, when the horticulture experts at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservancy wanted to conceal an unsightly building, they created this beautiful, large-scale living wall:


Balcony Garden Web

Real Simple

Mother Earth Living

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