Most gardeners don’t have sprawling acres. Those who live in apartments, condos or even a high rise still want to enjoy the beauty and bounty that comes from a thriving garden. Whether you have a walk-up or a large estate, your space can benefit from new and creative ideas for taking the garden to lofty heights.
Vertical gardening has been a trend that tends to come and go every few years, but recently it has become a permanent shift in how we think about gardening. Getting your garden to grow vertically can be difficult at first, but most vegetables, herbs, and even flowering plants are happy to have more space to climb.
A garden trellis or ivy archway can add so much charm and functionality to a garden. But these are just two types of vertical gardening. Each type offers supports for beautiful flowering or fruiting vines and added more growing space for small gardens. Your outdoor space can be elevated with tunnels, gates, privacy screens, and beautiful walls and fences.
Types of Vertical Structures:
There are 8 main types of support structures you can use to create a vertical garden.
· Stakes: These are the simplest types of vertical gardens, and most gardeners use them anyway. They are perfect for beans, peas, and tomatoes to keep the plant growing vertical instead of sprawling out of control. They can also be used for simple climbing flowers.
· Cages: This is another form of vertical gardening that’s not particularly beautiful, but it is functional and most popular for beans and tomatoes.
· Tripod: A tripod is a versatile form of vertical gardening. It creates a beautiful centerpiece or works in pairs at an entrance. Peas, tomatoes, hops, and flowering plants work well, and on larger tripods even mini melons can thrive.
· Teepee: A teepee is similar to a tripod, but is typically larger and provides a circular circumference at the base. These can be beautiful elements in any garden. They can support a range of fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants.
· A-Frame:These are commonly used for pole beans, but can create beautiful flowering structures in a garden as well. They are typically stronger, and adequate for cucumbers and mini melons as well.
· Trellis: There are two types of trellis’ available. Flat trellis and fence trellis. A flat trellis can be placed anywhere, whereas the fence trellis is used against an actual fence. Both trellis styles can support beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and melons, but a fence trellis is particularly suited for grapes and tomatoes as well.
· Arbor: This is a beautiful option for a vertical garden. It can easily define a space, create instant elegance, and makes the perfect visual landmark or portal leading into a vegetable patch.
· DIY: There are several DIY options that don’t follow traditional shapes of vertical gardens. You can create a potted vertical garden, stacked crates, or even indoor options that are beautiful options for small spaces.
Vertical Garden Placement:
Honestly, a vertical garden can go just about anywhere. It works beautifully both indoors or outdoors, in a vegetable patch or a flower bed. The most important factor is the type of sun exposure the plants will need. This should determine where you place the garden. For example, if you’re planning on including succulent plants (like cacti), you may want an area with half-sun to avoid scorching. Whereas if you’re planting vegetable or perennials you will need full sun exposure.
Choosing your plants:
Depending on the shape of the support, you can grow almost anything in a vertical garden. Succulents, herbs, vegetables, perennials, ferns, and trailing varieties are all popular choices. Choose plants that have exceptional flexibility rather than woody varieties with rigid, wooden stems. Because gravity will pull the water down, choose plants for the top that don’t need as much water and plants at the bottom that work well in wet conditions.
The plants you choose should have the same sunshine needs. Choose either all sun, or all shade plants so that each plant gets the exposure it needs. You also want to choose plants that have similar growth rates. For example, if you place a slow grower next to a more aggressive variety, it may take over and shade out the rest.
Planting for Success:
· Prepare the Soil
Always use potting soil with a vertical garden. These types of gardens can dry out quickly, similar to a potted plant. Using potting soil helps to retain the water and hold in moisture.
· Start Easy
With some plants, it might be better to plant the horizontally first, and then transplant them to your vertical structure. This can be done by using wire or glue to stack planters on top of one another and slowly elevating the containers over time. (Photo 5)
· Increase the Watering
A new vertical garden needs more maintenance than a regular ground or container plant. Consider a drip irrigation system for your vertical structures. Because they have less soil, they need to be watered more often, which can make maintenance tricky. The bigger the living wall, the more water it will require. A drip system is the best way to makes sure the entire structure is watered frequently and evenly.
· Take things inside
Vertical gardens can be a beautiful addition to the interior of your home, especially in cold-weather climates. You can grow small into living walls to add color and texture to your space. Indoor plants also help to filter out indoor air pollutants. When it’s cold outside, houseplants grown in vertical gardens add much-needed humidity in months when the furnace runs and dries the air out.
· Have a backup
Chances are, as you start your vertical garden, some plants are not going to survive. To keep your structure looking full and beautiful, have a couple of backup plants that you can transplant to fill in empty holes or replace plants that aren’t coping well.
Whether you choose to dress up your fence, create an arbor or DIY your own vertical structure, these make it easy to grow vertical garden plants. Even hanging baskets can be considered vertical planting. Whatever support you choose, select plants carefully and give them a reliable drip irrigation system for easy watering. Be sure to give them the sunshine they need and leave some space between the trellis and the wall for air circulation. In no time you’ll be enjoying a beautiful and lush vertical gardening space.