This is a simple guide on how to start vertical gardening for absolute beginners.
For urban dwellers with zero or small yard space, the disabled, senior citizens, and homesteaders, vertical gardening is the perfect way to grow very healthy fruits and vegetables without compromising on quality or quantity. And it doesn’t take too much effort to create a vertical garden with the right information. But the best intentions can be laid waste by improper planning and execution. To be fair, vertical gardening could be challenging for newbies with so much to unpack in terms of setting it up, maintenance, and choice of plants.
In this article, we’ll show you how to create a vertical garden with easy-to-follow vertical gardening ideas and tips. This is a complete guide with all the complicated knots pared down to unpack everything you need to know about the process from start to finish.
How to Start Vertical Gardening
There are multiple ways you can start your vertical gardening. To avoid any epic failure, we’ve chosen to outline a step-by-guide that eliminates complicated concepts while maintaining all of the essential aspects of vertical gardening.
1. Choose your structure and placement
A critical decision is deciding where to create the garden and the type of structure to use. The space you have would determine the size of the garden and perhaps the type of plants to grow. You don’t want the structure to be a permanent one if you plan to move garden in the future. For instance, if you are renting, it won’t be smart to place the garden on the walls. Another reason is you might decide to take advantage of the movement of the sun to relocate the garden to sunnier locations.
An important consideration is to ensure is to use lightweight materials if you are building the support system. This makes it easier to move the garden. On the other hand, if conditions favor a permanent vertical garden using walls, you’d want to opt for trellis attached to the walls. This is important for plants that grow from the base.
Other ideas you could consider when planning the vertical garden structure relative to your space include:
Racked or shelved containers/pots – This basic vertical garden involves placing containers or pots on racks or shelves. You could buy or make the shelves and either mount them on a wall or leave them as stand-alone structures.
Pocket or pouch vertical garden – Pouch vertical gardens are straightforward to design. One major consideration is to ensure there is provision for catching excess water below the pockets.
There are pretty easy tutorials online explaining how to make pocket vertical gardens using felt or canvass material, sewing kit, and nails. Alternatively, you can decide to speed things up by purchasing canvass pocket holders at any craft shop or online.
Hanging planter vertical garden – Like pocket planters, hanging planters for vertical gardens are easy to make. The only materials needed are enough rods, robe, and hanging planters.
You can improve the aesthetics of the space by using painted robes, washi tape, and terracotta pots with supporting discs.
There are different ways to hang the pots. A popular style involves arrange them in rows (one row atop the other) propped by vertical rods. You could also suspend the pots from an eyebolt with a robe. Using the roof for extra support, you can have several planters hanging and decorating one wall of your house.
Indoor vertical garden – For people who live in apartments where space is at a premium, situating the vertical garden indoors is a very viable option.
The kitchen is a very popular place to do this. But the best place would be an area or wall that gets the most sunlight daily. Use wall planters to grow herbs so you consistently have a thriving herb garden throughout the year.
Fence vertical garden – The section of your fence that gets enough sunlight daily could be the answer to your vertical garden aspirations.
Simply suspend or hang containers like paint cans, coffee tins, and soup cans.
While your choice of the right containers is not limited to those three, make sure the fence can support the weight of all the containers especially if the plan is to cover that whole section with your vertical garden.
Use cedar boxes or stacked crates – If you have several crates of similar size, you can create a vertical garden without having the do any sort of construction or installation.
Simply stack them so the top edge of the crates below is topped by the bottom edge of the boxes above to create a beautiful checker-like structure. As long as the crates are sturdy and you don’t stack them too high, there is little danger of the structure toppling over.
But if you are unsure of the stability of the structure, you could attach them to your fence or wall. The effect is equally beautiful.
The point here is that vertical gardening can be very easy if you want it that way. And it could be very complex too depending on the choices you make.
2. Choosing Where to Plant
Here is the good news: you can plant anywhere indoors or outdoors. That is the essence of vertical gardening.
Though you can plant anywhere, sun and shade are important factors that determine how well the garden turns out since some plants need more sunshine than others. The rule of thumb is to choose and group plants that would thrive best in the selected area and this, in turn, is linked to the amount of sunshine that spot gets in a 24-hour cycle.
That said, when planting indoors, you can always invest in supplemental lighting if the room lacks adequate sunshine. Ask somebody experienced in indoor gardening to point you in the direction of the best supplemental lighting for indoor vertical gardens. Or simply invest time in a bit of online research for all the relevant information including where to purchase the lights.
3. Choose your Garden Type
This step, to an extent, would dictate the direction you’d go in terms of the type of garden you want. However, this decision might already be settled right at the first stage when deciding the type of structure to use.
The type of garden you choose plays a huge role in how the plants would be installed and the kind of vertical garden you’d settle for. Basically, all the aspects of creating a vertical garden are linked. Resolving one part could simultaneously sort out a different aspect of the process.
So depending on the plants you choose, you could decide to go with pot planters or containers. Pocket planters made from felt or canvass are also popular options if you want to keep it simple.
4. Choose Your Plants
In theory, there are no limits to the types of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and succulents you can grow in a vertical garden. In practice, this depends on the structure, the purpose of the garden, and how ambitious you are. It’s best to start with plants that could be managed easily. Herbs for example are comparatively easy to grow in a pocket hanger.
For climbers such as ivy, rose, tomatoes, runner, and beans, trellis support would be a great choice. A great idea to add variety to the trellis vertical garden is by introducing self-clinging evergreens and train them to behave like climbers.
Also, if you are growing a variety of plants, ensure that they all have a similar growth pattern. For instance, group plants with the same sunlight requirement together in the same location.
For woody plants like lavender, the smart move is to use pots or growers since it’s tricky making them grow up a wall. Herbaceous plants such as ferns are more flexible and as a bonus, the colors add variety and beauty to the garden.
Vertical gardens are easy to maintain; you should be able to do it without too much effort. But this depends to a large extent on the type of plants and soil type.
Generally, you would need to water the plants every day. How you water the plants and the frequency would depend on the planter type. For instance, plastic pocket planters require just minimal watering with even a small watering can. But you have to ensure the plants are watered frequently.
With canvass pockets s though, it is imperative to be careful to avoid overwatering because the fabric retains water to a degree. Organizing a drip irrigation system comes highly recommended for vertical gardens planted against a wall. A well-constructed drip irrigation system ensures there is regular water for all the plants.
There are different types of drip irrigation systems on sale. But if you are handy with tools, you can construct one with a hose pierced with holes at regular intervals. Then simply snake the hose around the garden to supply the needed water.
Other watering options include:
– Using the top half of a sawn-off plastic bottle. Simply drill a couple of holes through the cap and bury the bottle upside down in the soil. The water drips right to the roots of the plants. This is a great idea for tomatoes.
– Using ice cubes is a simple technique to moisture dry basket planters. The slowly melting ice adds the needed water. Water runoff is all but eliminated with this method.
Important Tips When Creating a Vertical Garden
- Ensure the structure is anchored properly in place before planting to avoid distressing the stems and roots of the plants
- Use only strong and sturdy structures for the heavier plants
- Place the vertical garden structure away from low-lying plants. The shadows cast by the vertical garden can affect their growth negatively.
- While some plants are naturally twinning and would loop around trellis openings, others such as climbing roses would have to be manually attached to the structure to aid vertical growth
- It is best to seek professional advice before planting against a wall. The growth of the roots can affect the integrity of the wall leading to structural damage.
- Whenever applicable, don’t forget drainage holes for the planters to avoid over-watering. A simple alternative to holes is to line the bottom of planters with pebbles.
- Use potting soil when starting out. This mitigates the expected drying. Potting soil retains moisture better.
- If you are going vertical in a big way, you need a ladder!
The above information is enough to get you started on how to build your own vertical garden.
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