THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON OUTDOOR ART PROS.
Vertical space just doesn’t get the attention it deserves sometimes, and if you’re concerned with optimizing space in a limited environment, growing a garden might seem like an impossible, or at least improbable, task. Whether your small available space is a balcony, porch, or at most a limited backyard, chances are you have a wall area that you can turn into a beautiful, well-designed garden for flowers, herbs, or vegetables that will not only brighten your living area but provide convenient and cheap food when you want something homegrown.
First, let’s take a look at some sturdy, well-designed outdoor vertical garden systems, then we’ll dig into what flowers, herbs, and plants would work best in such an arrangement.
Making Space where there is None
The Garden Anywhere Vertical System comes in two different styles, one offering eight forward-set pots and the other with seven, and when set together, create a continuous piece that allows you to extend and expand your available planting space seamlessly. They are made from a lightweight fiber cement that mimics the appearance and texture of cast stone without the heft and weight that comes with it. Functionally, they are UV and frost resistant and come with pre-drilled drainage holes so you don’t have to worry about modifying the pieces once you receive them. Both the Garden Anywhere Vertical System and Garden Anywhere Vertical System 2 share the same dimensions, 19″L x 11″W x 39″H, and weigh between 114 and 118 pounds each, making them both separately and combined one of the best vertical garden systems available on the market today.
If that’s a bit too large and you’re looking for something a bit more demure (if a solidly built planter set can be considered such), the Garden Anywhere Bench Set shares the lightweight fiber cement construction quality, placed in a sturdy metal frame that holds one large and two half-size planters for easy access to taller plants that might not fit in the Vertical Systems. As promised, the Bench Set comes with pre-drilled holes for drainage, superior craftsmanship, and an industrial style that doesn’t take away from the beautiful plants you’re planning on growing. The Bench Set as a whole measures about 34″L x 15.75″W x 38.5″H and weighs 111 pounds total.
Deciding Which Greenery to Grow
Step one is going to be choosing your plants. Because different plants require different types of soil, sun exposure, and watering frequency, you’ll want to arrange them appropriately. Now, the capacity of the Garden Anywhere systems will limit you in some manner, depending on which system you choose, but when it comes to plants for a vertical garden, you still have a great deal of freedom.
Flowers will bring a gorgeous burst of color to your balcony or porch, and depending on what you decide on, the scent of newly blooming flowers can make a world of difference to your mental and emotional state. Petunias are an excellent go-to for beginning gardeners. Blooming in a large variety of beautiful species, they tend to climb and hang over their planting space, helping you create a living wall of color. Most species of petunia thrive in full sun, though if it’s getting really toasty out there, the partial shade can ensure their survival in the hottest areas. As annuals, you should expect to replace them every so often, though there are some species that are classified as perennials.
Pure foliage plants are another great option, and many will provide that cascading effect as they grow into their planters. If you’re sitting pretty with full sun and a hot climate, Silver Falls Dichondra is a drought-resistant, hardy plant with beautiful, spidery silver leaves that thrive in well-drained soil. Once established, it can require weekly watering (more in extreme heat), and recovers quickly after a heat wave. If you’re working with more shade than you know what to do with, consider the Boston fern, a beautiful plant with a predilection for cool space, high humidity, and full to partial shade. By a quick daily soil check, make sure the soil is always damp, and if a dry wave hits, mist the plant to make sure it gets the humidity it needs. You’ll easily be able to tell if it’s too dry as the leaves will turn a telling yellow.
Delicious Herbal Goodness
Herbs are one of the top choices for a small, personal-sized garden because it puts some of the most essential cooking supplies right at hand. Many herbs will also smell fantastic, and right next to a window, you can enjoy a refreshing burst whenever the breeze blows just right. One of the top herbs for smaller planters is oregano. Oregano is a bit slower to grow than many others, but it’s a compact spreader, filling and establishing itself firmly in its planter. It grows best in full sun, thrives in poorer soil, and requires good drainage. It’s fairly heat resistant as well.
Lemon balm is an herb that produces a citrusy, minty scent when touched, and grows well in shade. When exposed to a good deal of light, it tends to get “leggy,” but it responds well when cut back, growing in twice as thick. The leaves are excellent for teas, fruits, salads, even fish preparation.
Would you believe that spinach is actually a strong contender for top dog among vertical vegetable gardening ideas? Preferring full sun and cooler temperatures, spinach grows quickly in fertile soil and should be planted in early spring after the frost, or if you’re in a frost-free region, it can thrive well in the winter. If you’re in a hotter region, consider chili plants! These vegetables grow happily in hot and sun-filled conditions as long as they are well-drained. Chili plants come in a wide variety of species and will tend to drape and spread, giving you the benefit of coverage and food production.