4 Ways to Grow Vertical Gardens in Small Spaces

If you are struggling with a lack of space, growing a vertical garden can be a great way to solve that problem. While it can seem intimidating, it's actually not too complex if you follow the right steps. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss walks through each step you'll need to take for a successful vertical garden in a tight space.

vertical garden

Vertical gardening is becoming a very popular way for plant lovers to maximize small spaces and create beautiful and innovative ways to grow, display and cultivate plants. This practice is gaining an especially avid following among urban gardeners, as it requires a small footprint and can be incorporated into unusual spaces, such as balconies and rooftops.

With an increasing world population and environmental change, terraced gardening helps to mitigate air pollution, increase biodiversity, and increase quality of life by providing urban populations with more natural spaces to enjoy.

Vertical gardening isn’t just for city dwellers, though. For gardeners with limited mobility, vertical gardening can offer greater accessibility by raising plants off the ground and creating a more easily workable space. It conserves not only space but resources like water and fertilizer as well.

If your gardening space is limited, vertical gardening can significantly increase usable space. Vertical gardening can help maximize greenhouse space as well. Let’s take a look at some tried and true as well as some new and innovative approaches to vertical gardening.

Option 1: Trellises and Arbors

Close-up of a blooming climbing rose up along a white wall with wooden trellises. The rose bush is large, lush, has pinnately compound leaves of dark green color with serrated edges and clusters of medium-sized double flowers of rich red color.
Trellises are a versatile and space-saving method for growing vining plants.

The use of trellises for vertical gardening is a tried-and-true method that simply makes sense. Just about any vining plant can be grown on a trellis or arbor. If you dream of a rose garden but don’t have the ground space, a vining rose will flourish on a trellis.

Imagine a fragrant wall of night-blooming jasmine on your balcony. What a heavenly outdoor living space that would create! A vine wall can create privacy, provide shade, and create wonderful visual appeal.

Trellis gardening isn’t just for ornamentals, though. It’s entirely possible to grow your own fresh vegetables and fruits using this method. Berry vines are a passion of mine; with three kids who all eat different types of berries daily, it gets to be an expensive grocery store habit.

I grow two types of blackberries along with black raspberries, and trellises make growing them more space effective as well as making harvesting so much easier.

The benefit of growing vining vegetables on a trellis, or an arbor, is that your veggies will never have to touch the ground. This goes a long way in limiting their accessibility to pests. While your plants won’t be impervious to insects, they will certainly be less visible to land-dwelling pests like aphids and mealybugs.

YouTube video
There are several benefits of growing veggies in vertical gardens as outlined in this video.

Another benefit of growing vegetables this way is the increased airflow. By allowing for greater airflow, this method minimizes the risk of fungal and bacterial diseases that can decimate a crop.

Trellises can be useful for hanging planters on, as well as growing plants directly on the trellis as a support. By using the trellis as a foundation for wall-hanging pots, it is possible to create a vertical garden that allows for the movement and rotation of plants.

Something to keep in mind when growing vegetables on an arbor or trellis, the vines of the plant much be sturdy enough for the vegetables to hang from them without dropping off. Peppers or tomatoes on a trellis are perfect.

Zucchini, small squash, beans, and peas are ideal. Growing cucumbers vertically on a trellis or arbor can also yield plenty of fruit.

Option 2: Stackable Planters

A vertical tower garden filled with spring cool seasonal crops of fresh vegetables and herbs in the backyard. Lettuce, arugula, kale, parsley, cilantro and white cabbage grow in stackable planters.
Stackable planters are space-saving and resource-efficient containers that can be used to create moveable gardens.

Stackable planters, like the Greenstalk 7 Tier Vertical Planter, are a great way to create a moveable vegetable garden. These come in traditional Stone and Terracotta colors, in addition to my personal favorite, the Epic Oasis color, which makes a bold and beautiful splash in the landscape.

Stackable planters are not only great space savers, but they also conserve resources like soil, water, and fertilizer. They do this by concentrating the use of these elements in containers sized ideally for growing things like strawberries, leafy greens, and other small vegetables.

Stackable planters make perfect vertical herb gardens as well. All that’s needed is about 4 square feet of floor space, and the sky is the limit.

I do a lot of baking, and flowers like pansies, violas, geraniums, and marigolds are just as pretty as can be on a cookie. I love stackable planters for my edible flowers. A tower of delicate flowering plants can be breathtaking, and the convenience of having them just outside my kitchen door is invaluable.

Stackable planters are also a great option for individuals with limited mobility. They can be placed on a rolling planter mover, which makes it easy to move and rotate them, giving all plants the right amount of exposure. Watering is super simple with these planters as well.

Stackable planters and planting towers are a wonderful resource if you want to grow a small vegetable garden but don’t have the space for a bed. They are also great if you want the ease and convenience they provide.

Option 3: Terraced Beds

Terraced Beds with a variety of flowering plants in an urban garden. The garden is built in levels between which there are concrete steps and wooden seats.
Terraced gardening is an ancient, practical farming method for managing diverse plants in limited space.

Terraced gardening is an ancient farming method that dates back more than 12,000 years. Early civilizations used this method of gardening by building terraces into the sides of hills and on the sides of their dwellings. Terraced gardens are beautiful as well as practical, particularly for those living in hilly landscapes.

A terraced garden requires a bit more space than some of the other methods on this list, but it bears mentioning as it works in limited spaces and is a great way to manage a diverse variety of plants.

Not all plants have the same needs. Some need exceptional drainage; some need protection from the afternoon sun. Terraced gardening makes it easy to plan for these factors and to execute a stunning and functional garden in a limited space.

Terraced gardening is especially useful for spaces that already have a slope that cannot be easily leveled. If your yard is sloped, making it difficult to plant without massive erosion with every rainstorm, this could make all the difference. Using the natural slope of your yard will be a valuable tool for building a terraced garden. 

Terraces are visually interesting and appealing, and they serve many practical purposes as well. This method of planting helps to prevent soil erosion and nutrient-depleting runoff. If water conservation is important to you, terracing also helps streamline irrigation.

Working in a terraced garden is less physically taxing and brings much of your garden to levels that are accessible without kneeling. Creating a terraced garden with children is a great way to involve little ones in growing their own food and tending flowers in a manageable space where progress is very visible.

Option 4: Hanging Containers

Vertical hanging container garden. Close-up of hanging baskets with different types of houseplants hanging from a fence in a garden. Containers in different colors of white, blue and black.
Hanging containers are an easy and low-cost method for vertical gardening.

One of the easiest vertical gardening solutions is to use hanging containers. This method requires the least amount of investment and preparatory work. As long as you have a strong support into which you can install hooks, you can create this type of vertical gardening.

I enjoy my outdoor hanging plants greatly because it is easy to see growth and progress. It’s also advantageous having a view from beneath my plants, as many health issues will show on the underside of leaves first,

Daisy Chain Hanging pots are a fun way to build a vertical hanging garden. These small metal fixtures will work with any pot with a drainage hole.

As long as your anchors are strong enough, there is no reason that an entire plant curtain can’t be created using these convenient tools. The chains run through each container, creating a chain of plants with space for growth in between.

Hanging baskets have a lot of advantages over pots housed on the ground. Keeping potted plants suspended also keeps them out of the way of many pests and more than one fungus or pathogen. No ground space is needed to create a hanging garden, so this is a great method of vertical gardening for gardeners living in apartments.

Recap of Benefits

There are so many benefits and advantages of vertical gardening. The greatest advantage is, perhaps, that it enables gardeners without a yard to plant, to cultivate their own food and ornamental plants. Let’s revisit some of the other advantages of vertical gardening.

Growing In Non-Traditional Spaces

Vertical potted herb garden. Large wooden vertical crates, fastened one on one with shelves for containers. There are many herbs and vegetables such as basil, cumin, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers grow in the containers.
Vertical gardening is ideal for limited spaces, with options including kitchen herbs and vegetables.

Vertical planting makes it possible for gardeners with limited or unconventional space to grow their own food and ornamental plants. From rooftops to balconies, vertical gardening can make a concrete jungle feel like a tropical rainforest.

Herbs can be grown directly in the kitchen using pots anchored to the wall or hanging using daisy chain fixtures. An arbor can be a prolific, hanging vegetable garden.

Accessibility

Urban landscaping, close-up of watering fresh vegetables and herbs on fertile soil in a garden on a raised bed. The garden is fully lit by the sun. A woman's hand holds a hose with a black spray nozzle with an orange rim.
This type of gardening is accessible and less physically taxing.

Vertical gardening is a wonderful way for people with limited mobility to be able to enjoy the stress-relieving benefits of gardening, as well as grow their own beautiful space in a way that is most accessible to them.

Vertical gardening doesn’t have to require kneeling or digging in the ground, which makes it physically less taxing.

Visual Appeal

A vertical garden with bright green annuals and flowering plants placed up against a wooden fence. Plants such as rosemary, strawberry and golden marigold grow there.
Vertical gardens create visual interest, offer privacy, and provide a new perspective.

Vertical gardens add visual interest to a space. Using a plant wall to create a more private space is an innovative and creative way to define a space.

A hanging plant curtain makes quite a statement on a balcony or patio. Vertical gardening brings plants to eye level and above, giving observers a new and engaging point of view.

Better Airflow

Green natural indoor plant in wooden pots in a home vertical garden. Wooden pots are placed on specially erected vertical structures. Varieties of ferns grow in pots.
Growing plants vertically enhance airflow, reducing the risk of fungal disease.

Growing plants vertically creates a situation where air can circulate more freely. This is a benefit to plant health in several ways. Not the least of these ways is minimizing fungal disease risks.

Better airflow also means fewer rotten fruits and vegetables. When these things sit on the ground, they are more susceptible to fungus and bacterial diseases.

Pest Prevention

Vertical garden for landscaping walls and growing herbs, vegetables on balconies and terraces or in courtyards. Two vertical wooden structures with special shelves filled with soil and various herbaceous plants. In front of the vertical structures is a large container with growing rosemary.
Vertical gardening is an effective way to prevent pests since ground-dwelling pests are less problematic.

In the same way that vertical gardening helps to prevent disease, it is also a valuable tool for pest prevention. Ground-dwelling pests are far less of an issue as compared to conventional gardening.

Noise Reduction and Privacy

Green ornamental plants on the wall, vertical gardening concept. Many different containers of various houseplants such as orchids, pathos and Dracaena fragrans stand on shelves attached along the purplish pink wall.
Vertical gardening brings privacy to urban environments by acting as a buffer for noise and air pollution.

Vertical gardening is a valuable way to bring privacy to those living in urban environments. A vertical garden can be a buffer for noise and air pollution, as it cleans the air passing through the plants.

When plants are grown vertically on exterior or interior walls, noise and pollution are filtered. A vertical garden is a great way to create privacy in more urban areas.

A trellis is a great way to obscure a window from the outside.

Space Saving

Close-up of an upright Stackable Planter with Neoregelia 'Fireball' potted plants and Melampodium in bloom. Neoregelia 'Fireball' has a dense rosette of flat, long, sword-like leaves of dark green with a dark burgundy hue closer to the center. Melampodium blooms with cute, small orange daisy-like flowers.
It is an efficient way to use a small space as it can accommodate a large number of plants.

Needless to say, vertical gardening can really maximize a small space. A great volume of plants can be grown in a very small footprint.

Dozens of strawberry plants can be grown in a stacked planter in just a few square feet of space. An entire crop of squash or tomatoes can be grown on an arbor for a lovely effect.

Easier Maintenance

Close-up of female hands in white gloves pruning climbing roses with red secateurs in a sunny garden. The rose bush is large, has climbing stems covered with small spiny thorns, pinnately compound leaves and medium, lush, double, pink flowers.
Vertical gardening reduces physical labor by condensing the garden into a smaller space.

Vertical gardening makes maintenance easier in more ways than one. A vertical garden is condensed into a smaller space, which means less overall physical labor.

While some pruning and maintenance will be necessary, the work is condensed into a smaller space, making for a lighter labor load.

Cleaner Crops

Close-up of growing lettuce varieties in white hanging containers, indoors. Lettuce forms rosettes of broad, bright green and purple leaves with curly edges.
Vertical gardening gives the gardener control over the plants’ growing environment.

Vertical gardening ensures that the gardener has control over the medium the plants grow in and come in contact with.

Plants grown in the ground are at the mercy of nearby industry and agriculture in terms of toxins and pesticides. Vertical gardening reduces plants’ vulnerability to runoff and other types of ground pollution.

Conserved Resources

Close-up of a vertical garden with hanging containers on a wooden wall. The containers are brown and black. A wide variety of plants grow in containers.
These gardens commonly use containers, which require less water and fertilizer.

Often, vertical gardens utilize containers for a significant amount of planting. Container plants may require less water and fertilizer, as fewer resources are lost to runoff. Vertical gardening makes very efficient use of resources.

Final Thoughts

Vertical gardening is certainly not a new idea, but we now have so many new and innovative products and ideas at our fingertips. Vertical gardening has gotten a modern update, making it appealing for both practical and aesthetic purposes.

With perks like being beneficial to the environment, and growing clean, healthy foods, anyone with a little bit of space and imagination can make this gardening method work for themselves.

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