Short on Growing Space? Build a Vertical Garden: Your Very Own Wall Of Bounty

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Live in an apartment with a little balcony? An urban house with a tiny yard? Think you’d love to grow your own food, but just don’t have the space? Think again. While you might not have much floor space, that shouldn’t stop you getting the satisfaction and health benefits of growing your own fruit and veg. Grow up! Building a vertical garden is incredibly easy – and you get to grow loads of food in a  small space. With a vertical garden, or wall of bounty, you can grow an array of produce, from herbs and salad leaves to squashes, strawberries, and beans. Just because you live in an urban environment, surrounded by masses of concrete, doesn’t mean you can’t have easy access to fresh produce. All you need to do is get a little creative, and make the most of the space you have, to get your very own green space and get a little closer to self-sufficiency.

What Can You Realistically Grow in a Vertical Garden?

Well, it largely depends on just how big your wall of bounty is. Obviously you can’t grow anything too big, or anything that requires a lot of large plants for only a small yield of produce. So grains, corn, giant pumpkins, and tall brassicas like sprouts and broccoli won’t work. Herbs for your kitchen are super easy and don’t require much space. Similarly, salad vegetables – lettuces, spinach, cucumbers (smaller trailing varieties), radishes, spring (or bunching) onions, little bell peppers, chillis, and tumbling cherry tomatoes are all excellent choices and, if you maintain them properly, will thrive in a vertical garden. You can even grow small carrots and baby beets.

Strawberries do really well, and, because of the nature of vertical gardens, the fruits tend to hang over the edge of their container, so they don’t rot or blemish in wet conditions. With a little bit of creativity, you can grow small squashes and pumpkins too, like acorn squash, pattypan squash, and sugar baby pumpkins. For squashes and pumpkins, you need trailing varieties that produce smaller fruits, and, unless you’re growing them close to the ground, you’ll have to support the fruits as they grow – pantyhose work well for gently cradling growing fruits. All you need to do is tie each end of the pantyhose securely to the vertical garden, and create a little hammock to rest the fruit in. We’ve got plenty of pumpkin recipes for you to try!

small yard garden ideas

If you’re going for a floral extravaganza, or you want to do a little companion planting to keep your fruit and veg healthy naturally, your choices are huge. For bright color, trailing lobelia and sweet peas create fabulous curtain of color which in turn helps to attract beneficial insects, like bees, to your vertical garden. Anything with lots of color and plenty of blooms works well, particularly if they trail. You’ll attract bees to help with pollination and ladybirds and hoverflies to help in the fight against pests like black fly and green fly.

living wall DIY

If you prefer form over function, create a piece of living art. Use a mixture of succulents, bedding plants, and trailers to create a living wall of beauty.

Where Can You Build a Wall of Bounty?

Well, you can build a wall of bounty almost anywhere. But remember, before you go crazy and build vertical gardens for every spare bit of outdoor space you have, check local laws and regulations. One of the easiest places to build a wall of bounty is against an existing wall, as you can literally construct it and anchor it to the existing wall. If you have enough space and can get your frame support deep enough and sturdy enough, you can build a freestanding vertical garden and double your crop yield, by growing both sides.

How to Build a Vertical Garden

It’s really very simple. There’s any number of methods you can use. You can use old pallets with guttering, pond liner, hessian, or weed suppressant fabric mounted on them. One of the simplest methods is to get a large piece of MDF (make sure it’s been treated so it’s weather-resistant, or treat it yourself). Use staples to mount hessian or plastic pond liner pockets at regular intervals until the panel is full. Don’t go crazy with the pockets – remember to leave enough space between each for plants to reach their full height and width. And, if you’re growing tumbling or trailing plants, remember to leave plenty of space above and below. Then simply anchor it to a wall, and you’re ready to go. If you’re using something like pond liner, remember to punch small holes along the bottom of each pocket so water can drain effectively. Fill the pouches with good quality topsoil, and get planting.

If you fancy growing pole beans, raspberries, or anything else that climbs or grows in vines, simply build yourself a moderately deep box, at least 10 inches deep and place it against your wall. For canes, get them planted, then simply secure string horizontally across the wall, around the canes, to the canes sit between the wall and the string or wire. For beans and climbers, place a wire or strong twine vertically down the wall, with one string for every plant.

Maintaining Your Vertical Garden

You obviously need to keep your plants watered – but too much water is as bad as not enough. With a vertical garden, always start watering from the top – this ensures the plants lower down don’t get drowned as the pockets above release their excess water. Ok, so you’re giving your plants plenty to drink, but they’re starting to look a little yucky – or they’re not producing as much as you’d like. Because you’re growing in pockets, not in the bare earth, your soil has a limited amount of nutrients. Therefore, on a regular basis, you’ll need to feed them with an organic fertilizer to keep them in tip-top condition and get the maximum yield. It’s also a good idea to change the soil in the pockets every 2 years.

Brighten up your urban landscape and get yourself some delicious, healthy food that you’ve grown yourself with a simple vertical garden.

If you have a vertical garden of your own, we’d love to see a picture.

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short on growing space

8 thoughts on “Short on Growing Space? Build a Vertical Garden: Your Very Own Wall Of Bounty”

  1. This is a very informative article Katy. It’s great to know that if you are short on growing space you still have options!
    I particularly like that you gave examples of the type of plants to use for the vertical walls and offered so much advice for building them and maintaining them too. In the past I have struggled to know how to maintain the gardens I have attempted to grow in. This was very helpful with great resources and photo ideas. Thank you!

  2. Great article. I’ve come across vertical gardens several times and all the DIY instructions that go with them but haven’t really considered them seriously. However, this article makes me want to build my own vertical garden especially since it seems like it can be done with little or no cost. Many of the for-sale fixtures I saw were quite pricey. I especially like the chicken wire and hanging pots idea. would the chicken wire be strong enough to support all those plants and the pots? It is so fine that I’d think it’d bend a lot. Maybe using a thicker wire mesh would be better, but it might not look as nice.

    1. Hi Nichole,
      I’m glad you found the post inspiring and useful.
      Yes, chicken wire works – but it needs to be stretched tight across the frame. You can simply attach it with staples. To reduce weight, you can use plastic pots or even listless hessian pockets, or, if you’re growing small plants – like herbs and salad leaves, you can repurpose your tin cans. Just paint them a pretty color, punch holes in the bottom for drainage, attach to your wire frame, and you’ve got an instant recycled pot.
      You can definitely use thicker mesh wire for more stability with larger plants, too. One the plants mature, they mask the mesh anyway. 🙂

  3. How Beautiful and brilliant post! I Think this is an excellent idea,as it must be easier to take care of the plants especially during the early summer when it can get a bit Cold at nights – this will allow you to just simply carry in your plants to keep them safe from the frost : )

  4. Katy I love this site. I have tried a few variations of having a potted garden, but these ideas are much better. Thank you for sharing, can’t wait for Spring now. I’m going to give this a try again this year thanks to your website.

    1. Hi Gee, I’m glad you like the site! I hope you have success with your own potted garden. Don’t forget to send us some pictures, too so we can see what fabulous goodies you’ve grown! 🙂

  5. Hey Katy great site! I really love the color, but most of all I love the information you put out on how to grow a vertical garden. I think I might just have to try using the pallet idea because its easy to get pallets where I’m from and they’re free. I figured I need more color around my house and you just gave me the perfect idea. Thank you for the information and may you have a great day/night.

    1. Glad you like the site! As for free pallets – free is always awesome, and reusing them like this is a great way to go a little greener. Don’t forget to send us a pic when you’ve got your pallets planted!

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