Vertical garden ideas: 12 ways to maximize plant space (2023)

Our favorite vertical garden ideas are ideal for packing plant interest into a small space. This trend is particularly popular in urban spaces, where people may have little more than a balcony. Making use of wall space means you can create a jungle oasis without cutting into valuable floor space.

Having a small space to work with doesn't mean you have to limit your design aspirations either. You can create anything from custom built modular systems with automatic irrigation systems, to DIY pallet planters mounted on a wall. It really depends on the needs of your space and your budget.

Vertical gardens are becoming increasingly popular as space-starved gardeners look for clever small garden ideas to make help them make the most of their space. 'Creating averticalgardencan be a great way to create more space while showcasing your plants in a new and artful way,' says Luke Dejahang, CEO of Crown Pavillions (opens in new tab). 'As thistrendbecomes more popular, we’ve seen people transform theirgardenrooms and gazebos into elevated spaces using vertical design gardening techniques.'

Bring interest to a small space with vertical garden ideas

The growing trend for vertical garden ideas can work well in all sorts of spaces, but it's particularly apt for smaller urban plots.

According to Samantha Jones, gardening expert at MyJobQuote (opens in new tab): 'They are also ideal for anyone looking to create a more private outdoor space, as a vertical garden is perfect for providing an adequate screen around your garden.'

Get inspired to create a living wall with our favorite planting schemes.

1. Make considered plant choices

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(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Before you plan your vertical garden ideas you should first consider which type of plants will suit your space and which may require additional care. After all, your small patio won’t feel quite so idyllic if all your plants are in poor health, so it’s always worth thinking about how best to take care of your plants.

'Getting enough sunlight is often the biggest issue gardeners face,' say the garden experts at The Greenhouse People (opens in new tab). 'Those with north-facing walls should opt for hardier plants that don’t mind a bit of shade, like fuchsia, hardy geraniums or ferns. Alternatively, if you’re looking to create an aromatic herb wall, opt for shade-loving herbs such as mint, parsley or chives.'

'You also need to make sure plants are getting the correct amount of water, so if you’re low on time, consider investing in an automatic irrigation system to ensure your plants are in perfect health.'

And if you live in a busy area, you may find covering walls or fences with plants can not only make a small garden look bigger but also reduce noise pollution, helping you achieve a tranquil space.

2. Pleach a tree for privacy

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(Image credit: Elho)

Trees can be tricky to fit into a small space but the method known as pleaching also referred to as 'hedges on stilts' mean that you can train your trees to give vertical interest in a uniform and controlled way. It's an ideal method for creating privacy in an overlooked courtyard garden.

Amateur Gardening expert Martin Cox says: 'Standard pleached trees are trained on narrow trellis frames above a clear stem that can measure anywhere from 4ft (1.2m) to 6ft (2m) in height. They’re perfect to extend screening above a brick wall. The area underneath can then be under-planted, left open or used to display pots, ornaments or anything else you fancy.'

Among the best trees for small gardens which work for stilt hedging are Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum), Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ and cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Latifolia’) – these evergreens will provide maximum privacy all year round. They may be deciduous, but hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’) are worth considering too as they hold onto their leaves well during winter.

In paved gardens or courtyards, an alternative option is to go for one of the best trees to grow in pots and nurture your favorite in a container instead.

3. Combine individual planters for a green wall

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(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

For those who want to create a living wall effect but perhaps lack the funds to install a complex irrigated system, attaching a number of containers and hanging baskets onto a garden fence is an easy hack in a courtyard or patio.

'Particularly for smaller garden areas, such as balcony gardens, wall planters and hanging baskets are all great options forthegardener that doesn’t want to compromise on social space,' say planting experts at The Greenhouse People.

'By raising plants to a higher level, you not only maximize your useable floor space, butthevarying levels will drawtheeye upwards, creating different focal points that make your garden space look instantly more visually interesting.'

4. Create a tropical oasis indoors

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(Image credit: Lechuza)

It's not just outside where vertical garden ideas can be put into practise. The best indoor plants can be used in the same way to create interest inside the home. 'Living walls are brilliant for those who lack surface space but still want to keep plants, as well as being very aesthetically pleasing and a means to achieve relaxing and healthy, high oxygen environments or – on the other hand – for achieving the trendy "urban jungle" look at home,' says Arvin Bhudia, Sales Director at Lechuza (opens in new tab).

Some of the best plants for bathrooms include ferns, which come in many varieties and are lush looking, plus they love the misty humidity and don’t necessarily need much daylight to thrive. Alocasia, Pothos varieties, Aloe and Calatheas can all work brilliantly in this setting, whilst spider plants are hardy and can do well without much natural light.

5. Use wooden pallets as a planter system

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(Image credit: Stannah)

We love a pallet here at Gardeningetc. They can often be sourced for free from local businesses and can be used for incredible pallet furniture ideas as well a plethora of outdoor upcycling projects, including this nifty wall-mounted planting system.

Install planting pockets on the reverse side of your pallets and pack in trailing plants like ivy and petunia. According to Mark Want, gardening expert at stairlift and home lift company Stannah (opens in new tab) you might want to consider a self watering system too. 'If you love the idea of gardening, but don’t have the luxury of time to maintain it or would like to save water, then a self-watering system may be for you. Here’s where it gets a little technical. You need an irrigation system (for example, a leaky hose or small irrigation pipes and nozzles that drip-feed and nourish your plants) plus a water collecting reservoir at the bottom.

'A solar-powered pump allows you to set a timer for when your plants get watered during the day– you can even add liquid feed! As the pump starts to work, just the right amount of water and feed will be forced through the pipes and onto the soil or coir. But rest assured, a good old-fashioned long-spout watering can or a hose with an attachment on the end can work just as well.'

6. Hang pots from a balcony railing

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(Image credit: Elho)

For those with limited ground space, the best thing to do is to go up! Vertical garden ideas can transform small balconies and patios into a lush, green oasis, enveloping outdoor space in foliage and blocking out pollution and noise.

But this becomes tricky in a smaller space so a set of simple stackable planters can be a lifeline. They allow you to create a living wall aesthetic without a complex installation process.They can be easily attached to railings on balconies to soften the hard lines. Plant fragrant plants like lavender which will also provide food for pollinators, as well as being a scent-sational addition for you.

7. Keep it simple with single pots

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(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Vertical garden ideas can come in all shapes and sizes. Even if it's just a group of single pots mounted on a wall. Sometimes a large garden wall can feel a bit empty and imposing, so try breaking up the space with wall-mounted pots instead.

Replace them with new plants as the season changes to give different color interest. Alternatively, stick with an evergreen and keep it watered all year round. Or if you're a fan of edible produce try pots of chilli and herbs like basil.

8. Have a trellis planter for climbers

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(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

A medium-sized trellis planter is an ideal quick-fix vertical garden idea. These will be readily available online or at garden centers all year round. They can be pushed up against a sunny wall or fence and used to grow veg. Green beans or tomatoes would go at the back of your planter so they could be trained up the trellis panel. The front could have edible flowers like nasturtium which are good options for companion planting to boost your crops as well as adding floral interest.

Alternatively, go with a purely floral feast with clematis and other cottage garden plants like delphiniums and calendula.

9. Go for trellised fence panels

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(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

If you're in the market for a new garden fence then you might want to consider going for a trellis panel. Not only are these great for letting light to pass through as well as insects and bees, but it means that you're ready to go with planting climbers in your flowerbeds.

Depending on the light in your garden you might choose a camellia for a dry shady spot or a tropical passion flower for a hot and sunny, south facing garden.

10. Create a living wall of succulents

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(Image credit: Nomad Outing / Getty )

Succulents are still having a trend moment, and there's no sign of that coming to an end any time soon. And they're ideal if you're looking for a low maintenance living wall. Other types of living walls require good irrigation and plenty of it. Whereas succulents are some of the best drought tolerant plants and require far less watering than other types of plants.

They will still need watering every now and then, particularly if they're not growing in the ground. They make the ideal plants to pack into frame as they have shallow root systems which don't take up much space beneath the soil surface.

To create vertical succulent garden ideas, use chicken wire over a base of compost and slot in your succulents. It will take a while for them to grow and cover the whole vertical area so in the meantime use moss to cover up the chicken wire. New plants can be added over time.

If you have a stone wall or similar it is possible to just slot succulent cuttings into the cracks and more often than not they will take root and thrive.

11. Put a vertical plant display on your porch

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(Image credit: Naphat_Jorjee/Getty)

Smarten up your front porch with some vertical planters. Tiered planters are one of the most common vertical garden ideas as there are so many varieties which are readily available. Whether these be brand new from garden centers, or salvaged from flea markets.

If your porch is north facing and therefore in shade for most of the day, this could actually be a bonus. You may not be able to grow sun lovers such as Mediterranean herbs and tumbling tomatoes, but large leafed shade lovers like ferns and ivy will thrive. And given a few months of regular watering they will begin to trail and tumble down your planter, creating a living wall effect.

Why not try fixing a pallet on the wall above it to pack in even more lush foliage? Both of these can be easily moved around or taken with you if you ever move house.

12. Grow a wall of herbs in an outdoor kitchen area

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(Image credit: RHS/Luke MacGregor)

In this garden, designed by Anca Panait, she has created a wall of edible herbs which is positioned in an outdoor kitchen area. Not only is this a visual feast, but also a culinary one.Growing herbs near an outdoor kitchen makes good sense as you will always have flavor to hand to add to your dishes.

Try Mediterranean herbs like oregano and basil. Although basil is an annual herb and will need to be replaced each year, rosemary, mint and sage are perennial and therefore will give a more long lasting display.

What grows well in a vertical garden?

When planning your vertical garden ideas, remember to research and choose plants wisely. The plants you select should be suited to their growing conditions. If your balcony gets a lot of sun then choose sun lovers like clematis and certain rose varieties. Whilst shady spots will favour ivy, nicotiana or jasmine.

If you're just looking for one of the best climbing plants to train up a trellis then go with something quick growing like Virginia creepers or the purple flowering Akebia quinata.

If herbs are the preferred choice we would recommend planting directly from seed as supermarket-bought herbs are not of very good quality and can have diseases or be weak in general. Basil, parsley, sage, mint, thyme, oregano or chives could work well in an indoor kitchengarden.

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(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

How do you set up a vertical garden?

The first step in creating a vertical garden is deciding the look and aesthetic you want to go for. Luke Dejahang, CEO ofCrown Pavilions (opens in new tab) says: 'Specifically, is your objective to create a small display or dedicate a larger area? First, choose the type of vertical garden you want to use. For instance, hanging wall planters are an easy and affordable way to grow herbs or display small indoor plants.

'Alternatively, you can make DIY displays by purchasing some pots and sturdy rope, or by purchasing shelves and layering. Once you’ve hung your planters or shelves, simply select the plants you want to use and place them in the pots.

'When choosing your plants make sure they are flexible. Because vertical gardens tend to sprawl out, it’s important to select plants that will do the same, rather than fall downward. Additionally, since vertical gardens aren’t able to pull nutrients from different soils around them, good soil is a must to make sure your plants thrive. Lastly, make sure your plants are watered regularly and have fertilizer to get those much-needed nutrients'

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(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs/Future)

What vegetables can I grow in a vertical garden?

Mark Risdell Smith, author ofThe Vertical Veg Guide to Container Gardening (available at Amazon) (opens in new tab), advises 'Hanging basket ideas are ideal for filling in bits of empty space. You can put one anywhere you can fix an attachment to hang one. Fill them with small cherry tomatoes, trailing runner beans, trailing nasturtiums or herbs. Hanging baskets are prone to dry out quickly so use the largest you can find.

Climbing varieties of plants are another way to make the most of vertical space - and look great, too. Good choices for containers include climbing runner and French beans, vining tomatoes, squash, fat baby achocha, blackberries and hardy kiwi.'

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(Image credit: Mark Ridsdill Smith)


Vertical garden ideas: 12 ways to maximize plant space? ›

There are three techniques involved in vertical gardening: terracing, trellising, and tumbling. Each is designed to maximize the limited sunlight and space you have.

What are the techniques of vertical gardening? ›

There are three techniques involved in vertical gardening: terracing, trellising, and tumbling. Each is designed to maximize the limited sunlight and space you have.

What vegetables work best in a vertical garden? ›

Our favorite vegetables for vertical growing are pole beans, climbing peas, sweet potatoes, vining tomatoes, and sprawling types of zucchini, cucumber, melon and squash that can be trained up supports.

How do you add vertical space in the garden? ›

One of the most versatile, quick and inexpensive ways to easily add vertical space in the garden is using ladder mesh blocks. What is this? Plants love growing vertically up the repurposed trellis, and it's easy to install anywhere in the garden.

What are the disadvantages of vertical gardens? ›

Here are some cons of indoor vertical gardens:
  • Living Walls Require Maintenance. ...
  • They Can Damage Your Home if You Choose the Wrong Plants. ...
  • Irrigating Vertical Gardens Can be Challenging.
Oct 8, 2020

What is the best vertical farming method? ›

Aeroponics is considered one of the most efficient methods of vertical farming, as it uses over 90% less water than even the most efficient hydroponics systems. And since the nutrients are held in the water, they get recycled, too.

What can I plant in a green stalk vertical planter? ›

Plants. One of the best things to grow in a GreenStalk Vertical Garden is root vegetables! Some of our favorites are sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips. We highly recommend growing root crops because you typically get the best of both worlds – leafy greens and root vegetables!

What is the best potting mix for vertical garden? ›

Good quality potting mix can be mixed 50:50 with lightweight perlite, vermiculite or small styrofoam balls. Success depends on effective irrigation. Most pre-formed vertical systems have some arrangement for watering but, if you're setting up your own system, give some thought to watering and drainage.

What is the best growing medium for a vertical garden? ›

As a general rule, good-quality loam-based potting soil is ideal for most vertical gardens. Potting soil is lightweight, has excellent drainage and is generally packed full of nutrients and minerals like perlite, bentonite and potassium which help to support young plants growing in containers.

What tomatoes are best for vertical gardening? ›

Most tomatoes come in both determinate and indeterminate varieties, but not all of them. Experts agree that indeterminate tomatoes are the better option for your vertical tomato garden, because they will actually grow up your trellises and cages!

How do you garden with limited space? ›

Succession planting is a key concept for small-space growers. If your goal is to have fresh produce all season long, space out your plantings by a couple of weeks rather than planting all at once. Succession planting works especially well for short-season vegetables like lettuce, radishes, and peas.

How do I arrange my garden in rows? ›

Always plant the tallest vegetables to the northern side of the garden and the shorter growing vegetables to the southern side of the garden. That said, most recommendations agree that planting north-south is marginally better. The north-south orientation allows the sun to penetrate the garden by shining down the rows.

How do you fill vertical wall space? ›

  1. Stack your Stuff.
  2. Add Storage.
  3. Decorate with Freestanding Shelving.
  4. Add Lofty Furniture.
  5. Use Modular Solutions.
  6. Plant a Vertical Garden.
  7. Embrace Open Shelving.
  8. Add Art.

What is the biggest downfall of vertical farming? ›

For a long time the industry has touted itself as a more sustainable way to grow vegetables, but all the energy needed to light up those LED bulbs means that vegetables grown on vertical farms can 222end up having higher CO2 emissions than those grown in open fields and trucked hundreds of miles to their final ...

What are some design flaws with a vertical garden? ›

The disadvantage of vertical gardening is that it can hold moisture against the affected walls, and can promote rot if the planters are not installed properly. Planters over windows or decks drip just like any other planters do, staining or dirtying whatever is below.

What is the biggest problem with vertical farming? ›

The fundamental problem is that fruit and vegetables must have strong, direct overhead light, so high-density vertical farming must recreate the sun, usually a free, abundant resource. This means using LED lights, which are energy-intensive in both their manufacture and consumption.

Why don t farmers use vertical farming? ›

And These Vertical “Farms” Can't Grow Much

While LED lights provide the light needed for photosynthesis to occur, they don't provide the proper mix of light and heat to trigger plant development stages — like those that tell plants when to put on fruit or seed.

Why is vertical farming hard? ›

Growing plants vertically in stacked systems often requires artificial light sources, which can become costly. Vertical farming also requires humidity control through expensive and energy-intensive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

What are the three biggest advantages to vertical farming? ›

What are the advantages?
  • Year-round crop production. No need to worry about frosts, winds, sunny days. ...
  • You will need less water. Some scientists and advocates of vertical farming say you'll only need 10-30% of the water you would need if you're using traditional horizontal farming. ...
  • Future-proof. ...
  • Weather-proof.

What plant takes 100 years to grow? ›

The agave americana plant is known as a century plant because it typically blooms once every 100 years at the end of its life cycle.

What plant takes 20 years to grow? ›

The seemingly simple act of a corpse flower blooming can take up to 20 years.

What color walls do plants like? ›

Colors like blue, orange, yellow, purple, red, and green give indoor plants life and enthusiasm.

How many bags of soil does it take to fill a Greenstalk planter? ›

How much soil do I need? Each Original Tier holds 1 cubic foot of potting mix (about 8 gallons). Each Leaf Tier holds 0.75 cubic feet of potting mix (about 6 gallons).

What is the best privacy shrub for a planter? ›

Some well-loved, vigorous perennials such as Shasta Daisies or Asiatic Lilies adapt beautifully to large containers – giving you strong foliage and great flowers. When containers are grouped together with larger shrubs such as hydrangea, you can create a formal look, stagger bloom times and block views.

Can you use raised bed mix instead of potting soil? ›

Raised Bed Soil is like a balance between garden soil and potting mix. It has the exceptional drainage necessary for container and raised bed gardening and it assists gardeners in maintaining loose soil which provides adequate airflow for necessary oxygen and nutrient delivery to root systems.

How do you water a vertical planter? ›

'You should always aim to water your vertical garden from top to bottom,' says Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express (opens in new tab). 'The reason for this makes sense. Water will trickle down and you can then control how much water to give to your plants at the bottom.

What is the most appealing and natural vertical wall of plants? ›

Succulents are the most suitable choice for vertical walls due to their attractive appearance and adaptable nature to survive in extreme conditions. You can use echeveria, crassula, sedums, sempervivum, and senecio for creating a living succulent wall.

What is the easiest tomato to grow? ›

Cherry Tomatoes are the easiest tomatoes for beginners to grow. They produce crop after crop and have very few problems!

Is it better to plant tomatoes sideways? ›

Planting your tomatoes sideways, or horizontally, in a shallow trough allows you to dig much less, while also putting your plant in the upper layer of soil. This is where the richest nutrients are found, and the warmer soil helps accelerate plant growth.

What are the features of a vertical garden? ›

A vertical garden is a vertically suspended panel on which plants are grown using hydroponics. These unique structures can either be freestanding or attached to a wall and go by many different names: living green walls, plant walls and moss walls just to name a few.

What is the arrangement of vertical garden? ›

The vertical garden structure has three major sub structure viz., i) base frame, ii) main central support and iii) supports for pots/grow bags. Pots suitable for growing different vegetables, flowers and medicinal plants can be used with soil or soilless (cocopeat) growing medium.

What are types of vertical greenery system? ›

Vertical greenery systems fall into three broad categories: Support systems. Cassette systems. Planter systems.


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