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Vertical Gardening for Limited Space

Vertical Gardening for Limited Space

You don’t need a big backyard or a dedicated orchard to grow fruit. A trendy idea in gardening is both pretty and practical: vertical gardening. There are several benefits to growing up instead of out, but one of the best is saving space. Even with a very limited space in your yard or on a patio or balcony, you can create a beautiful and bountiful vertical orchard.

The Benefits of a Vertical Garden

The immediate and obvious benefit of going vertical with your fruit is that you save space. You can harvest more fruit in one area with a vertical garden. This is especially useful if your growing area is small. If all you have is a balcony or a patio, you can still grow and enjoy fruit using this vertical growing strategy.

There are other good reasons to create a vertical garden, even if you do have the space to spread things out more. When you grow plants vertically, they are easier to tend. Much of what you grow is at eye level or close to it. You will do less bending and reaching as you harvest, prune and inspect your plants for pests or diseases. With your ripe fruit in reach you are less likely to miss fruit and will get more out of your harvest each year.

Types of Structures for Vertical Gardening

Creating the structure and base for your vertical garden will probably be the most difficult and time-consuming part of this process. If you’re not necessarily handy, you might want to outsource this job. On the other hand, even with just a few basic tools, almost anyone can create a basic structure that will work for a vertical garden. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Build a trellis. A trellis is a great solution for a vertical garden. You can place it anywhere you have space and hang pots from it using wire. Build your own or find a trellis at a garden center. Just be sure to secure it, either to the ground or another structure, so it won’t tip over.
  • Use wire mesh. A simple wooden frame with wire mesh, like chicken wire, spread across the frame is an easy structure for vertical gardening. Attach pots to the mesh by encircling each one with a piece of wire. Wrap it under the lip of the pot and twist it into place on the wire mesh. This should hold each pot firmly in place.
  • Use a wall. If you can attach something to the side of your house, garage, a shed, or any other structure, an external wall can be a great place to start growing vertically. One simple way to garden on a wall is to attach “pockets” made of a breathable material, like landscaping fabric. Add soil to the pockets, add your plants, and away you go.
  • Pick up a shipping pallet. This is the ultimate budget-friendly solution. With just an old shipping pallet, you can create a small vertical garden. Use more than one if you have more space. Staple landscaping fabric to the back of the pallet, fill it with soil and put plants in between the slats.
  • Build shelving. A set of shelves is perfect for a patio or balcony. You don’t even need to build it yourself; you should be able to find a shelving unit that will fit with your space. Just be sure to choose something that has an open style so your plants get enough light.

Use your imagination when creating your vertical garden. These are just a few possible ideas. There are many more ways in which you can stack plants and grow them up in a small space.

Perfect Plants for a Vertical Garden

Your next choice, once you have your structure set up, is what to grow. Some plants will be better than others for a vertical gardening. Think of those that are smaller and that take to containers. Strawberries, which grow small and low to the ground, do well in vertical gardens. You could make one structure that is fully devoted to strawberries. Even if you have space for a patch of strawberries on the ground, growing them vertically will make it much easier to harvest the berries.

Blueberries and blackberries grow on bushes, which when untended or wild will grow quite large. However, you can get smaller varieties that grow well in containers. These work well in vertical gardens if you trim them back and make sure they don’t get too big to stay up on a vertical space.

Any kind of fruit that grows on a vine will also make a great choice for vertical gardening. Grapes, for instance, can easily be grown on a trellis or other vertical structure. Guide the vine in the direction you want it to grow as it gets bigger. Other vining fruits to consider include kiwis, passion fruit and hops. The latter grow especially well on trellises and can even be trained to grow over the top of a structure to create shade.

As an accompaniment to your fruit, consider adding herbs to your vertical space. Just about any kind of herb will grow well in a container-based vertical garden. Try basil, parsley, thyme, sage or mint. Rosemary or lavender can work too, but these are shrub-type herbs, so you will need to trim them back to keep them small enough for their containers. Certain spice plants also work in vertical containers. Try growing black peppercorns or ginger root.

Vertical gardening is a smart, fun and practical way to grow fruit in a small space. A vertical garden can also look really beautiful, so it’s something you might want to try regardless of how much space you have. On the side of a building, on a trellis next to a patio, or on a balcony or deck, a vertical garden can add an attractive element to any outdoor space while also providing you with a bountiful harvest of fresh fruit, herbs and spices.