In this article, we'll discuss how to make the best use of the vertical space you have to create a functional and attractive garden.

Tips for Using Vertical Space in Your Garden

Kent Swanson

Tips for Using Vertical Space in Your Garden
In this article, we'll discuss how to make the best use of the vertical space you have to create a functional and attractive garden.
Tips for Using Vertical Space in Your Garden
by Kent Swanson

Home gardeners sometimes neglect to make use of the space created by vertical areas in their yards. If you're creative, you can use vertical spaces to produce some unusual and beautiful effects in your garden. Vertical gardening is also appealing if you have a small yard or apartment with limited places to grow plants. In this article, we'll discuss how to make the best use of the vertical space you have to create a functional and attractive garden.

Benefits of Vertical Gardening

In addition to allowing gardeners with limited space to grow a variety of plants, vertical gardening has a number of other benefits. Growing plants on trellises and garden arbors can help add shade to your yard. If you have a view you'd like to block or an unattractive structure you'd like to cover, you can use vines and other plants to help disguise these unappealing landscape features. If you grow plants over walls, fences, and trellises, vertical gardening can also add more privacy to your home.

In many cases, vertical gardening will allow you to work standing up, so you can save your back a lot of wear and tear. Hanging baskets and grow bags are a great way to grow both flowers and vegetables in a small vertical space. These items are very popular with older gardeners who don't want to stoop to work on their plants. Additionally, growing plants in this manner means that they generally have fewer problems with pests and diseases, as many pests can't even reach your plants!

Plants for Vertical Gardening

Vines are an obvious choice for growing on fences, garden arbors, and trellises. Vines can be attractive for both their foliage and their flowers. Wisteria and Trumpet Creeper are popular vines that have beautiful flowers and fill out with lush, green leaves. Vines are also a perfect pick if you want to cover unattractive features in your landscaping, such as utility boxes or old garden sheds.

You can choose either perennial or annual vines for your landscaping. Annuals such as nasturtium, morning glories and sweet peas will grow quickly in a single growing season and then die off. This is a good option if you want quick growth and you don't want a leafless set of branches in your landscaping during the winter.

Popular perennial vines include ivy, clematis, bougainvillea, climbing roses, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Perennial vines will twine, grasp, or lean, depending on the species you pick. Perennial vines can also be evergreen or deciduous. Deciduous vines will loose their leaves in the winter and can often create interest with their twisting, sculptural shapes. Wisteria is a good example. Evergreen vines, such as English ivy, will help keep your landscape green all year round.

There are a number of fruits and vegetables that you can use in your vertical garden as well. Cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, and pole beans are examples of plants you can grow on vertical structures such as trellises. Of course, grapes make a great plant to grow vertically on garden arbors, fences, or trellises. Another option, if you have an appropriate climate, is passion fruit.

Ask the staff of your local nursery or your local extension agent for more information on plants appropriate for vertical gardening.

Structures for Vertical Gardening

If you don't have many walls or fences in your home to grow your plants, your best bet is to look into buying a trellis or a garden arbor. These outdoor structures are perfect for growing flowering vines, climbing roses, and even some climbing vegetables, such as peas.

Arbors are typically made from vinyl, iron or other metals, or wood. Arbors often have a small bench or swing built into the structure, making them ideal for relaxing. The addition of a vine growing up and over your arbor will make it a cool and shady spot. Garden arbors come in a wide variety of styles. You can purchase arbors with flat roofs, arched roofs, or gabled roofs. Some garden arbors even come with gates or planters, making them functional pieces of art.

Trellises are leaning or stand alone structures that will work for a variety of plants. Both flowering vines and some vegetables work well when grown on trellises. Trellises are also useful for creating privacy barriers and "walls" where none exist in your yard. Other simple structures for vertical gardening include pergolas. Old wooden ladders, poles, antique wooden wheelbarrows, and even old cars can be attractive features where you can grow plants vertically.

Vertical Gardening Tips

Location is an important part of vertically gardening. Make sure you place garden arbors and other structures where they won't shade out other plants. You'll also want to ensure that the plants you grow on your trellises or garden arbors will get enough sunlight. Orient the structure accordingly. Moreover, if you have seasonal winds, you may want to locate your arbor or trellis in a safe place where they are less likely to blow over.

If you have vines growing in your garden, you'll need to keep the base of the plant mulched with about four inches of organic mulch. This will ensure that your soil retains water during the warmer weeks of the summer. The mulch will also add nutrients to the soil. Some vines and other vertically-growing plants dry out quickly, so make sure and water them frequently.

When you grow plants vertically, you'll want to keep constraint tabs on them so they don't grow where you don't want them to go. Some vines can quickly attach themselves to rain gutters and pull them away from the wall if you're not careful. Also, when planning your vertical garden, make sure you think about access for maintenance. Will you need a ladder to prune your vines, or can you reach them easily?

As your plants grow up your trellis, wall, or garden arbor, you may need to keep them fastened to the structure and train them so they won't slump off or fall. Twine is a good choice for tying your plants, and won't damage the stems. Some vines will attach more readily to a surface and twine in and out of a trellis or arbor, but other need a helping hand now and then.

Remember to contact your extension agent if you have specific questions about your plants or garden. Be creative and have fun! Remember: Think globally and garden vertically!

You can find a large selection of vertical gardening supplies at Clean Air Gardening. (

About the author:

Kent Swanson is a freelance writer specializing in environmental issues. You can see more samples of his work at the following websites:


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