Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

A vertical garden is an excellent idea for gardeners who love to garden but do not have enough space.

We have asked gardening experts how to start and maintain a vertical garden. The responses included the following main points:

  1. Succulents are the most recommended plant by experts.
  2. Start in the spring so your plants can grow best.
  3. Keep your plants hydrated in the summer and fertilize when needed.
  4. Provide your plants with enough sunlight

John M. Valentino from John and Bob’s Smart Soil Solution

There are a few different ways to start a vertical garden. You can use containers attached to the wall, a piece of canvas with pockets for plants, or a large wall planter with several rows for plants.

What you choose will depend on the space available, what plants you want, and whether you want to permanently attach your vertical garden to the wall.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Succulents are a good choice for smaller vertical gardens as they usually have very shallow roots. But herbs, vegetables, annuals, and perennials can all thrive on a vertical garden with the proper care.

You just need to consider how much sun the vertical garden will get through the day.

Plant your vertical containers in spring when the plants are small so that they can establish together. Annual bedding plants such as lobelias and pansies are perfect, as they’ll do well in small spaces and provide a lot of bright colors.

If you want to plant things like lettuce or beans, you’ll need to give them a space that’s at least 15cm deep.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Put plants that are happier in dry conditions at the top of your vertical garden and ones that need more water at the bottom.

Vertical gardens drain quickly, so use potting soil when you’re planting to help them retain the water. During the summer, water at least every other day, and every day when it’s really hot so that they don’t dry out.

Jordan Collins from Two Lions 11

How to start a vertical garden

A vertical garden always starts with the choice of a wall. In most cases, this will be an unsightly wall, and you want to hide or one not used for anything else.

Create the foundation by using a frame, plastic sheeting, and fabric. The idea is to create a sandwich in 3 layers.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

It’s best to avoid the use of metal as it’s a heavy material. The plastic comes in as support for the fabric layer and prevents the water from reaching the wall.

Next, install your fabric or the material where the plants will live and feed off of. You can use felt carpet padding for maximum results.

Keep in mind that it’s recommended to have a few layers of fabric.

You’ll also need to consider having an irrigation system that will allow the moisture to spread evenly throughout the fabric. Add in your fertilizer and choose your plants.

What to plant

When it comes to vertical gardens, most people prefect to grow different types of succulents. However, you can also experiment with herbs, veggies, and flowers too.

If you’re using a container or pocket gardening, the options are infinite as you can merely plant anything you want.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

It’s essential to do your research about the plants’ maintenance in advance and make sure you’re growing together plants with similar necessities.

Some of the most popular plants that have thrived in vertical gardens include hostas, ferns, phlox, iberis, and blueberries.

Timing

Vertical gardens can be created during any time of year, based on the choice of plants, herbs, or flowers.

In most cases, I’ve seen many people start their vertical gardens as spring approaches as a lot of plants and veggies thrive better in direct sunlight and warmer temperatures.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

However, you’re not limited to a time frame, and you could quickly start your indoor vertical garden in winter if you provide the right resources and setting for your plants.

Tending

The tending will entirely depend on the type of plants or herbs you’re trying to grow.

It’s best to select plants that don’t require a lot of attention and maintenance and do well in colder seasons, especially if you’re planning to place your vertical garden outdoors.

Watering

Again, depending on your plants, the watering will be different. However, if you’ve set your irrigation system correctly, you shouldn’t need to water them too often.

Erinn Witz from Seeds and Spades

Vertical gardening can take almost any awkward, sunny space and turn it into a productive garden. There are many options out there for vertical growing, but my two favorites are pre-made vertical planters and recycled plastic bottles.

Pre-made vertical planters

These planters have a cylindrical shape and use a series of stacking trays to increase the growing area.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Vertical planters are great for growers who have limited space to work with, like a sunny patio or deck corner, and want to grow various smaller plants. These are some perfect options:

Fill each planting tray with potting soil, then stack as many trays as you want (up to the manufacturer’s maximum recommendation).

You can set up your vertical planter anytime you want as long as your local weather is appropriate for the crops you want to grow. For most growers, you’ll have the best success planting in mid to late spring.

Caring for your plants is easy, too. Most vertical planters have a central water tube system. Just add water from the top, and the tube distributes water to each growing tray as needed.

Recycled plastic bottles

Empty plastic bottles mounted onto a sunny wall. This is a great way to recycle and increase growing space at the same time!

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Empty 2-liter soda bottles or 1-gallon juice bottles are ideal sizes for this project. Some good plants to grow include:

  • Herbs
  • Annual flowers
  • Lettuce
  • Leafy greens

It only takes minutes and few simple steps to transform a bottle into a vertical planter:

1. Wash out your empty bottle with soapy water, rinse and allow it to air-dry thoroughly.

2. Use a craft knife to cut a rectangular opening on the bottle’s side. The exact size of the space depends on your bottle, but use these guidelines to maintain structural integrity:

  • Leave at least 2 inches of plastic on either end of the bottle.
  • Don’t cut away more than half of the bottle’s diameter.

3. Use a hammer and nail or a drill with a 1/8-inch bit to add 2 drainage holes to the bottom of the bottle.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

4. Mount your bottle to the wall using a drill and 1-inch screws that are appropriate for the wall material. Leave at least 12 inches of space in all directions between mounted bottles.

5. Fill your bottle with potting soil and seeds or plants.

Spring is usually the best time to plant herbs and leafy crops, and late spring to early summer is best for annual flowers. Your region’s average daily temperature is the most critical factor to help you decide when to plant.

Bottles are small containers that can dry out quickly, so plan to water at least once daily. When the soil surface feels dry to the touch, add water until you see it start flowing out of the drainage holes.

Jen Stark from Happy DIY Home

To start a vertical garden, you’ll first decide on which wall you want to use. Vertical gardens are great for hiding defects in the walls.

Once you pick one, you’ll decide how large you want your garden to be and build a frame. You’ll make a triple-layer frame that uses wood, plastic sheeting, and fabric.

Get 3/4-inch PVC pipe with elbows and four-way joints to build the frame. Once the frame is done, attach the plastic sheeting to it. The plastic is a backing for the fabric layer to keep water away from your wall.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Next, attach your landscape fabric to the frame. This is the material your plants will live in.

You’ll need a minimum of 2 fabric layers, and stretch them taunt across the frame before using stainless or galvanized steel staples or screws to attach it to the PVC.

Next, you’ll buy an irrigation system and attach it to the top of the frame, so it drips down. This is also how you’ll fertilize the plants.

Pick out your plants. The types of plants you choose will depend on your growing zone and the amount of sunlight it’ll get.

When you pick out a few, you can use a razor blade and cut through the first fabric layer. Insert your plants into the hole. Get a staple gun and make a small pouch for your plants to sit in.

Bill Taylor from My Backyard Dream

Location

The first important thing to do when planning a vertical garden is to pick your spot for the garden. You’ll want to be sure to select a location that the garden will be in full sunlight.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

This is especially important for vegetables and herbs since they need a great deal of light to grow. The location should also be sheltered from the wind so that the plants won’t blow over.

Keep it sunny

It’s also a good idea to choose a spot on the south, or at least east, side of your home. That way, the garden can get plenty of direct sunlight.

Dan Bailey from WikiLawn Austin Lawn Care

The vertical garden is an interesting new trend. They can be great for saving space, but they’re, in my opinion, a little challenging to tend to.

Mostly I’ve seen them used in corporate landscaping when a company really wants to leave an impression.

Starting one at home will require time and patience. You’ll need suitable space for it like a flat, non-porous wall.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

You’ll need to build housing for it with a wooden frame (usually), a fabric layer, and a plastic sheet.

Then you’ll need an irrigation system and a fertilizer injector to properly fertilize and water your garden. These things definitely aren’t cheap, so consider this option carefully.

Tal Shelef from CondoWizard

How to start a vertical garden?

To start on the right track, it is vital to decide where your desired area to place your vertical garden to determine the size, the kind of plants you should grow, sunlight positioning, and the materials or equipment you’ll need.

What to plant?

Vertical gardens usually consist of different types of foliage plants like succulents, caladium, or spider plants.

Foliage plants are the leafy kind of plants that give off fresh air, especially in the cities’ spaces, less cost and effort maintenance.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

But you can also add herbs, vegetables, and flowers in the mix if your garden’s position has the best conditions for them.

Be sure to choose ‘flexible’ plants especially if you are just starting like me.

Timing

For me, there is no proper timing in vertical gardening though, if you are planting edible plants, the best time to plant them is in early spring or in late summer.

Vertical gardening is designed to survive all seasons of the year, so for me, you can start whenever, as long as you can make it work and tend to them just right.

Tending

Tending your plants in your vertical garden will depend on which kind of plants you decided to plant and what kind of organic soil you chose to use.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Different plants have different needs, so before you decide to plant them, you should learn how to take care of them.

But do not worry. Vertical gardens are generally elementary to maintain and tend to.

Watering

You can create a system for watering your plants in your vertical garden. Again, depending on what kind of plants you decided to plant is their need for water can be.

You can use water sprays, long spout watering cans, and water hoses if you want to do a manual system or design a drip irrigation system to be more creative.

Andrew Barker from HomeownerCosts

How to start a vertical garden

Placement

Your garden’s placement will decide the size and types of plants you can grow. Make sure that you choose an area where there’s adequate sun exposure.

Decide What Garden Type You Want

Decide what kind of vertical you want to build and how you will install the plants. Choose whether you want a potted, container-styled, or pocket garden.

Choose Your Plants Wisely

Even though succulents are the most common choices, you can choose to plant flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Choose flexible plants that you can manage with minimal supervision. Make sure to pick plants under the same ‘habit’, which means you can maintain them easily and regularly.

What to plant

Indoor Plants

You can grow varieties that do not need indirect light. Plants such as:

  • Orchids
  • Ferns
Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas
  • Air Plants
  • Golden Pothos

Foliage

You can grow plants that thrive in shady areas in your vertical gardening. Foliage such as:

  • Caladium
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Spider Plant
Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas
  • Ferns
  • Coleus
  • Succulents
  • Sedum
  • Bromeliads

Flowering Plants

If you want flowers that will provide you plenty of colors, flowering plants are your best option. You can plant:

  • Hummingbird Vine
  • Morning Glory
  • Scarlet Runner Bean
  • Susan Vine
  • Hyacinth Beans
  • Violas
  • Petunias
  • Pansies
Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas
  • Nasturtiums
  • Alyssum
  • Begonias
  • Verbena
  • Scaevola Trailing Lobelia
  • Vine-Type Geraniums

Edible Plants

Plenty of edible plants work well for a vertical garden. You can plant:

  • Radish
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Spinach
Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Vining cucumbers
  • Malabar Spinach
  • Pole Beans
  • Vining Cherry Tomatoes
  • Pole Beans

Timing

You can have a vertical garden any time of the year. However, just like an in-the-ground garden, the type of plants you can grow depends on the season.

Tending

Protect Your Floors And Walls

Your vertical garden may cause water damage to your walls and floor. Make sure that there’s a tray underneath your garden to catch any drainage.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Your Structure Should Be Able To Support your Plants

Your plants may become heavier in time. Weighty greenery may cause your vertical garden to fall. You can choose lighter herbs or tightly secure your garden to the wall.

Trim Regularly

You must regularly prune your plants. Avoid letting them grow too heavy for your structure. Trimming will let you lighten your herbs and monitor the state of your plants.

Watering

Your vertical garden requires more maintenance compared to an in-the-ground garden. It has less soil, which more watering is needed.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Drip irrigation is the best option. You can choose to have a sophisticated system or simple pots with holes that allow water to flow freely.

Robert Johnson from Sawinery

How to start a vertical garden

First, you need to have a bare wall or a fence to set up your vertical garden.

I utilized our rooftop space for my first vertical garden, so I set up the sturdy, sturdy frame where the plants will be hung between 2 stable and robust poles.

What to plant

The best plants for your vertical garden are those small shrubs that you can harvest for short periods.

Top 9 Expert Tips For Vertical Garden Ideas

Remember that no matter how sturdy your frame is, it can only accommodate a maximum weight, so you need to plant items that will not grow so much.

Plants like cabbage, tomatoes, basil, ladyfingers are best for vertical gardening.

Timing

It is best to start planting during the spring or summer season. This gives your plant enough time to grow, mature, and produce flowers and fruits before the winter.

Just remember that many plants cannot tolerate winter, so you have to stay clear of that season.

Tending

Plants also need fertilizers. Applying organic or even homemade fertilizers can do the trick.

Watering

Water plants in the early morning and late afternoon. It is best to start watering from the topmost layer so those at the bottom will receive any excess water from the top. Do not overwater the plants.

Conclusion

A vertical garden will make your home stand out. Just spend a little time taking care of them. The results will be worth it.

I hope our article with expert ideas will help you. See you in our next article!

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at jill.sandy@constantdelights.com

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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