Want to test your green thumb but lack the space for a traditional garden? It may be time for you to try vertical gardening.
Of course, we’re all accustomed to seeing vegetable patches and flower beds that spread out horizontally over the ground. A vertical garden grows—you guessed it!—vertically, often within new or repurposed containers or specially designed holders.
A close cousin of so-called living walls, vertical gardens may be planted anywhere that offers enough space (indoor areas included), so long as the essentials are present: nutrient-rich soil, water, and sunshine.
Benefits. Vertical gardens are excellent for apartment dwellers as well as homeowners with poor soil, limited green space, or in some cases, an unsightly fence or shed wall that would benefit from some camouflage. Vertical gardens not only add visual interest to patios and decks, but they also attract butterflies, contributing to pleasing outdoor living areas, even as they enable you to grow your own vegetables and herbs.
Possibilities. Whether a novice or experienced gardener, you can grow a wide variety of things in vertical gardens. Keep in mind that root vegetables (e.g., potatoes, carrots, and beets) require containers deep enough to hold their extensive root systems, while other veggies, such as lettuce, are shall0w-rooted.
Vegetables that do particularly well in vertical gardens include:
- Leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach)
- Small cucumbers
For a garden that is both beautiful and useful, intersperse edible and ornamental species. Other plants with which you may enjoy experimenting include:
- Trailing flowers (verbena, geraniums, impatiens)
- Herbs (oregano, cilantro, parsley, basil)
Positioning. Vertical gardens typically appear outdoors, but provided there is adequate light, you can also plant vertical gardens indoors. In either case, choose a sunny wall that is sheltered from gusts of wind. For convenience, plan vertical gardens so that reaching their top levels isn’t discouragingly difficult.
Necessities. One approach to vertical gardens is to treat them as a form of container gardening. For the purpose, upcycle everyday objects like soda bottles, juice cartons, and paint cans into DIY planters. Or if you prefer, buy or build a vertical garden installation with burlap, canvas, or felt shaped into a hanging pouch system, one that resembles closet shoe organizers. Additionally, you’ll need potting soil, liquid fertilizer, seeds or seedlings, and a watering can or gardening hose (although some readymade vertical garden kits come with a built-in automatic drip hose for irrigation).