One of the many reasons why I love vertical gardens so much is that they range so dramatically in complexity, materiality and in price. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or backyard Vertical Gardening has become very popular in recent years. Whether you have a whole backyard at your disposal, a balcony, or just a nice sunny wall inside or outside of your home, you can easily create your own vertical garden using upcycled materials. There are many examples of backyard vertical gardening online, so the following list is a small collection of my personal favourites:
1. The Recycled Pallet Garden
Recycled Pallet Gardens Image via 6footsally
My humble foray into vertical gardening began with this first project, so it is very near and dear to my heart. The pallet garden is a fairly simple way to create a large vertical garden. The steps to build one are easy, and involve a pallet, small fabric liner (to contain the soil) and enough lightweight soil to fill the pallet. It’s a project you can easily complete in an afternoon. Though don’t forget to let the garden sit horizontally for a few weeks before hanging it up! This gives the plants much needed time to establish themselves, so they do not fall out when turned vertically.
2. Recycled Eaves/ Downspout Gardens
Another internet DIY favourite of mine is using reclaimed materials is the eavestrough garden. There are many versions of it online, but my favourite is a part of the Growing Vine Street project, created and designed by Seattle artist and activist, Buster Simpson. In this project downspouts are utilized and altered to grow plants. All irrigation is from the downspouts alone, which diverts some roof water drainage before it reaches the storm sewers.
3. Pop Bottle Gardens
The pop bottle garden is another great example of how to reuse waste material to create vertical gardens. This garden was originally installed as a part of the Home to Home (Lar Doce Lar) program in collaboration with Rosenbaum Design Firm and Brazilian TV personality Luciano Huck. Because this garden was created in a private residence, small vegetables (mostly leafy greens) and a few herbs were planted in the bottles, though a variety of smaller plants could easily grow in the bottles. The garden has become so popular that Rosenbaum has released a guide on how to make your own. A simple and inexpensive design, this system is a popular summer activity for children.
5. Living Succulent Frames
It is very easy to repurpose old frames or boxes into vertical gardens. Kari Scott, a graduate student of landscape architecture at UPenn makes her own vertical gardens regularly. She builds her own frames and uses succulents to fill them, due to their relatively small root systems. Other plants could be used, but may require more soil, adding weight and bulkiness to the design. Some plants will do better in a vertical orientation than others, so trial and error is the way to go to figure out what is best in your climate.
There are many ways to make beautiful vertical gardens, I hope you’ll experiment with your own designs! Various tutorials are available online for the projects listed above and many others. Maybe you will add your own special twist and post it in the comments below, for others to see?
Leading Image ©Tamara Urben-Imbeault. Repurposed dresser drawer filled with Nasturtium and Strawberry plants. Both of these plants did very well vertically.
Written by Tamara Urben-Imbeault, M.L.Arch. graduate from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her main area of research is vertical gardening. Read her thesis, “Vertical Gardening in Cold Cities; Speculations for Winnipeg” here.