Small spaces can have a garden

Small spaces are often problematic when people try to garden. There is just so much area that is usable. Apartment dwellers often have tiny balconies with very little room and these days, everyone wants a garden. Instead of tripping over containers in a small space, why not think of growing upward instead of outward and take advantage of walls and fences instead of the ground? There are many options for a vertical garden and most dwellings have the space for at least one of them.

Choose your vertical space wisely

Vertical gardens can be an easy way to grow herbs, vegetables and ornamentals if a few requirements are met. Your plants need an adequate space for their roots, the correct amounts of light and moisture and a sturdy framework to support them. Choosing the proper plants and the structure to grow them in is as important as keeping them properly watered. If you are placing your vertical garden on a wall or patio divider, remember that the existing wall will hold heat and probably be much warmer than the ground if it is in the full sun. This will mean that the plants will need more water and some plants may not appreciate the heat on their roots. Choosing the plants that fit your conditions best is a huge step toward success. You also need to remember that the moisture from the vertical garden could possibly stain or damage your wall, so an appropriate barrier should be installed before hanging your garden. Usually a plastic sheet will do the trick.

shoe organizer vertical garden

A shoe organizer makes a good vertical garden

The easiest vertical garden is simply a cloth or plastic shoe organizer. The individual pockets are large enough to support all sorts of herbs or salad greens. Salad greens do well in areas where there is some shade and some sun, so are a good choice where the garden isn't in the sun all day. If the organizer is cloth, there's no need for drainage holes, however if the organizer is plastic, you'll need to poke a few small holes in the base of each pocket to give them drainage. As with all hanging gardens, make sure that the surface you attach it to can handle the weight of the garden, especially once you water it. Most people attach the organizer to a frame and then mount or lean the frame against the wall. You'll need to pay attention to moisture because these vertical gardens do dry out faster than other gardens.

Discarded wooden pallets make good vertical gardens

Old wooden pallets are another economical way of creating a vertical garden. You can either use the pallet as a frame and hang containers from the slats, or use the entire pallet as a planter. There are several creative ways of constructing a pallet planter. A quick search for 'vertical pallet gardens' returns tons of great ideas. Some use scrap from a second pallet to create planter boxes inside the slats. Others cover the back with heavy landscape fabric and a piece of plywood. Use lots of staples on the horizontal slats to keep the soil from packing down. You also need to cover the bottom with landscape fabric or another board to hold the soil in the bottom section, then fill the open spaces in front with potting soil and plants. Then let the plants settle in and the roots stabilize the soil before hanging it. This usually takes a couple of weeks.

pallet garden

Vertical garden containers are available commercially

There are also vertical garden containers that you can purchase commercially. The systems are usually based on a free-standing stacked tower that you can add to. This is a great alternative if hanging your vertical garden isn't an option, as some landlords frown on things attached to walls. They do well with salad greens, herbs, strawberry plants, cherry tomatoes and peas. Many people combine edibles with ornamentals and petunias, nasturtiums, ferns and begonias are all good choices. Sunny vertical gardens do well with ornamental succulents too. If you have a chain link fence, you can hang containers or baskets along it to do double duty. The hanging gardens supply vegetables or flowers and screen the unsightly fence. Some people use rows of house gutters stacked on a wall with good results too.

fence garden

There are many plant options for vertical gardens

There are many creative options for vertical gardens and most people can find a way to have one where they live. The main things you need to know is that the structure needs to be sturdy enough to support the garden and you'll need to pay closer attention to moisture because a vertical garden usually dries out faster. The plants should have a shallower root system because of the smaller pockets, so chances are, sweet potatoes, full-sized tomatoes and pumpkins shouldn't go in a vertical garden. However, cherry tomatoes and mini pumpkins should be fine. Herbs are wonderful in a vertical garden as are lettuce, kale and mustards. You can keep fresh salad growing almost all year. Radishes, scallions and the smaller, round carrots do well too. Vertical gardens take advantage of space that would usually go to waste and just about everyone has a spot where one will be successful.