By Melinda Myers
Go vertical to expand your outdoor gardening space, create privacy and add beauty to bare walls and fences. This centuries-old technique has been used to grow food and flowers, adding beauty and productivity from the ground up. Even those gardening on small city lots, balconies and decks can go vertical to expand their gardening opportunities.
Grow pole beans, peas, squash, melons, tomatoes, and other vining edible plants onto supports. This saves space, reduces the risk of disease, and makes harvesting much easier.
Enjoy the many benefits of vertical gardening even when growing in containers. Create your own or purchase a support that securely fits and supports the vines growing in the planter. Or purchase a container with an integrated trellis. Further reduce maintenance by utilizing a self-watering pot like the City Jungle Self-Watering Tomato Planter large enough to grow and support two indeterminate tomatoes.
Mount containers on a wall or fence or stack and secure them vertically to increase growing space. Systems like the Vigoroot 4-Tiered Balcony Garden provide lots of planting space in just a few square feet.
Include trellises and arbors in raised beds and elevated gardens to further maximize growing space. Trellises train vines upward while arches allow you to grow two layers of plants, one over the trellis and one below. Dress up a bare wall or fence, screen a bad view or create privacy with a plant-covered trellis. Leave space between the wall and trellis when gardening next to a building. This space allows airflow between the building and plants, reducing the risk of mildew on the wall and diseases infecting the plants.
Grow annual vines for quick cover and perennial vines for years of beauty. Mix the two to quickly cover the trellis with the annual vine while waiting for the perennial to establish and reach its mature size. Plant two vines with different bloom times on one trellis to extend the colorful flower display. Or look for those that bloom at the same time to double the floral impact.
Use decorative supports to add beauty or a focal point year-round. Select the style – rustic, formal or colorful – that complements your garden design, furnishings, and personality. Make sure whatever you choose is strong enough to support the plants you grow.
Mask rain barrels, compost bins and other functional areas in the landscape with a wall of plants. Leave space for easy access as you fill your compost bin or harvest finished compost and rainwater.
Dress up a lamp or mailbox post with a vine covered support. Create your own from chicken wire or purchase a curved trellis like the Bosmere Trellis (gardeners.com) suitable for this application.
Use trellises and arbors to brighten often overlooked spaces. A vine-covered arbor makes a nice floral welcome at the entrance to a walkway or colorful transition between garden areas. Make sure the opening is large enough to accommodate visitors and any equipment needed.
No matter your style and location, vertical gardens can help you maximize your growing space and garden’s beauty.
Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.
By Melinda Myers