Expand your garden upwards by incorporating vertical gardening into your garden. Growing plants high or along walls allows you to introduce new plants to a small garden or an already crowded garden. Better yet, vertical gardening uses the latest techniques if you enjoy researching and learning new growing methods.
Vertical gardens elevate plants to eye level and display them in a charming and memorable way. Rely on vertical cultivation to shield unsightly views like a compost pile, chain-link fence, or pool pump and equipment. Use vertical gardening to create living walls in an outdoor space or to screen a patio, pool or seating area.
Traditional vertical gardening relies on well-known methods of lifting plants from the ground to the sky. A trellis provides a way to support plants on their way up. Trellises can be simple structures, such as a trio of bamboo poles positioned at the top and lashed together to form a teepee. Or a trellis could be an arch made of bent wood, wrought iron, or bent concrete rebar. A trellis can be a modest three feet tall or a towering 10-foot plant.
Vines are definitely the stars of vertical garden design. Depending on your location, choose sun-loving perennial vines such as clematis, trumpet vine or wisteria, or plant shade-hungry climbing hydrangeas, hardy kiwis or sweet autumn clematis. Annual vines sprout from the ground and shoot skyward, covering the supports in one growing season. Many of these, such as morning glory, moonflower, cardinal creeper and climbing nasturtium, sprout reliably from seeds planted in garden soil.
Living walls offer another option for vertical garden design. These unusual gardens are typically created from plastic trays divided into planting cells. The cells often slope outward, creating a shallow pocket of soil and a place for plants to sink their roots. A typical 2-inch square cell provides a happy home for shallow-rooted succulents, while 4-inch square cells can accommodate small annuals, perennials, or edible plants like alpine strawberries or lettuces. Consider building a custom frame for your vertical garden out of rot-resistant wood to create a stunning conversation piece.
Most vertical wall specialists recommend leaving an air space between the planter and the wall. Plastic trays usually come with a hanging device that can be used to hang the tray. Add spacer blocks to the edges and bottom to keep the tray away from the wall. Attach living wall planters directly into stucco or concrete walls, but build a frame and use spacers to prevent the planters from resting directly on wood surfaces.
Plant bags made of felt or plastic offer another way to create a vertical garden design. These bags come in different sizes to hold different amounts of soil. Fill them with any type of plant, but try to match the final plant size to the bag (small plants in small bags, large plants in large ones).
Watering vertical gardens is vital and sometimes difficult. Drip irrigation probably works best to deliver water directly into the soil. Look for gravity-fed systems that allow for a natural flow rate. A period of drought can destroy a vertical garden. Therefore, pay attention to the water needs of the plants, especially as it gets warmer in summer and the plants get larger.
No matter what style of vertical gardening you pursue, always consider plant size. Anchor trellises deep in the ground to prevent summer winds from pushing your vine – and your trellis – to the ground. With living wall planters, always make sure the wall or fence is designed to support the weight of the planting frame, wet soil and plants.