Let’s Get Vertical!


A new dimension of gardening. by Amanda Harper

If you love the idea of gardening, but find it challenging for a variety of reasons, you’re not alone. Gardening can be physically demanding, which is a struggle for many people. Traditional gardens also require a lot of unused ground space, which many of us don’t have to spare. Vegetable gardens can honestly be somewhat unsightly in an otherwise pristine backyard.

If you’ve been put off by any of these factors, vertical gardening might be for you!

Vertical gardening is–as the name implies–the practice of growing plants up rather than out. While some plants need encouragement to go vertical, it’s a gardening style that just about anyone can do successfully.

The ways to achieve a vertical garden are virtually limitless. You can use everything from old fencing to used palettes to get growing.

If you’ve never trained a plant to climb, the process is fairly simple. You need to identify what method the plant uses to climb and provide it with a material it can grab onto. Plants with those curly little tendrils like green beans need something small, like string or wire, to grasp. Plants that are “twiners” like morning glories or clematis use their leaves to grab on; because of that, they can climb thicker structures, like wooden trellis. Some plants are able to cling to just about any surface (Boston ivy), while others (climbing roses) need to be tied. Google is a tremendous resource in helping you understand what will go up!


Stacked planter boxes. This looks something like a ladder with several planter boxes as the rungs. These usually lean against the side of your home or hang suspended with chains. This type of vertical garden is best for plants that don’t vine or branch out.

Wall pockets. This is often a sheet of felt or canvas with little pockets that plants tuck into. This would be hung from a wall or divider. This is usually used for non-vining plants.

Trellises, “living walls” or arbors. Naturally vining plants are trained to climb these garden structures.

String, stakes, or cages. Vegetable gardeners often use supports for plants that naturally climb, like green beans.


Works in small spaces. If you don’t have much ground to dedicate to gardening, growing up can allow you to have more in a space that might otherwise be wasted!

Less physically demanding. Aching knees and backs rejoice! Vertical gardening requires less stooping, kneeling, bending over, and generally contorting your body than traditional growing setups.

More even sunshine and watering. This setup allows you to make the most of the resources you have.

Can increase yield. By allowing your plants to grow up and out, there is often more potential for crop production.

Looks more aesthetically appealing! You can create a garden that almost looks like a fixture of your home rather than... well, a garden.