A Solution to Small Spaces: Vertical Gardens

You might think you're out of the running for a lush garden if you live in an apartment, condo, or small urban house with a postage stamp yard. But think again. There are still plenty of options if your available space is pint-sized.

One of our favorite space-saving ideas is a vertical garden. A vertical garden can come in the form of a few different shapes, including a framed space that has plants growing in it, or a set of plant-filled vessels hanging from various heights to form a virtual “wall.”

Regardless of your preferred style, the first step in building a vertical garden is to choose your location. You’ll want to consider the sun angle, line of sight, and more practical matters such as access to water and ability to reach all parts of the space for watering and maintenance.

Next you’ll need to decide your format. If you want to keep your effort to a minimum, plenty of retailers sell a ready-made vertical garden, complete with a frame, backing, and pockets or a woven background for planting your greens. Some products even come with the plants!

If you wish to build your own hanging garden you can easily make a DIY version of the ready-made frames with backing. First build your frame – whether from wood or PVC pipe, then install the backing. Weed cloth and plastic sheeting are both good choices that are inexpensive and easily found at your neighborhood garden supply store.

Don’t forget ideas for upcycling rather than building or buying a purpose-made vertical garden. Before you toss out that hanging shoe organizer, closet organizer, spice rack, or shower caddy, think again! Each of these items could easily be transformed into a vertical garden with close to zero effort. You also might look for one of these items, a magazine rack, or an old piece of lattice at the local thrift store and give it new life in your garden.

The next step is to choose your plants. Succulents make a great source of plants that are very well suited to a vertical arrangement. Herbs are another good choice. Regardless of what flora you choose, take the time to design it ahead of time just like you would for a traditional garden. You’ll want to have visual variety throughout the garden to keep things interesting yet held together in a cohesive manner to keep the theme unified.

Before rushing to install your plants you’ll want to put your irrigation system in place. This will make it easier than doing it once your plants are already in place. Hook up a drip system that can be woven through the materials and components of your vertical garden. This will make the watering system both thorough and invisible.

Next up: install your plants. If you’re using hanging components such as baskets or racks, plant your greenery as you normally would. If you’re using a frame with backing, use a sharp knife to cut slits in the material, then insert your flora.

If you are lucky enough to have a spacious yard, don’t feel jealous! Vertical gardens aren’t only for those with small spaces. They also can be used to hide an ugly wall, shield a deck or patio from the sun, and add privacy.

That’s it! Now enjoy your garden, whether this is the extent of it due to a small space, or whether it’s a complementary component to a larger outdoor space.


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