When space in the garden is at a premium and there’s nowhere left to grow, there’s only one solution: reach for the skies! Given a combination of climbing crops, vertical supports and wall-hugging planters, you can pack a lot more into your space and get the very most from your plot.
Climbing plants offer a logical way to begin growing skywards. Suitable vegetables include climbing beans, climbing peas, sweet potatoes, vining tomatoes and sprawling types of zucchini, cucumber, melon and squash that can be trained up supports. Allow plants to find their own way up supports or tie them in at intervals to encourage them upwards.
Use structures to offer support for skywards plants, from simple rows of bamboo canes to more complex or decorative structures. Arbors and arches look stunning with climbers such as passion fruit or a grapevine, or how about climbing squashes or beans with coloured pods? The pods or fruits will dangle down to create a feature that’s both delicious and attractive.
Trellis – either bought or homemade from woody prunings – can be used for a wall of climbing vegetables or sweet peas. Wicker or bamboo wigwams offer a space-saving and arguably more attractive alternative to traditional rows of canes, while obelisks and pergolas present decorative solutions to growing upwards. Our Garden Planner features many support options that can be selected and dropped into your garden plan.
Many tree fruits, such as apples, pears and cherries, that can be trained into a vertical plane either against a wall or fence or along free-standing wire supports. These trees may be trained to produce single-stemmed cordons, fan shapes, parallel-branched espaliers or any manner of other fence-hugging forms. Use sturdy, horizontal wires strained between fence posts to create the necessary supports for wall-trained fruit.
Cane fruits such as raspberries and blackberries naturally grow tall. If left unsupported, the canes have a habit of flopping over to smother neighbouring crops, but parallel wires secured between upright posts will keep them in line.
Our Garden Planner has a range of space-efficient plants to choose from, and also helps you to select and place supporting structures.
Planters, Pockets and Baskets
Make your garden work harder for you by including any number of wall-mounted or stepped planters, planting pockets, tower planters and hanging baskets. Fill them with herbs, salads and strawberries then watch a blank space take on a whole new life! The Garden Planner has lots of ideas for suitable containers. Simply click the ‘i’ Information button for a description of each and its suitability for your garden.
You can make your own wall-mounted planters from recycled food tins that have been lined with plastic, sturdy bags or parallel rows of window boxes or tubs. Old pallets are widely available and turning them into vertical planters is a great way to reuse them. Check they are safe for reuse by looking for the pallet stamp. Stamps should display the IPPC logo and/or the letters EPAL, plus HT or DB, which means the wood hasn’t been chemically treated. Hammer or hang your recycled containers into position before filling with potting soil.
Walls or fences must be strong enough to hold the considerable weight of damp potting soil. In most climates you will also want to make the most of sunshine by picking a surface that faces the midday sun or west to catch the afternoon sun. Any heat absorbed during the day will then be reflected back onto your plants at night, speeding growth and harvest-time.
Wall-mounted planters are likely to require regular watering because of the rain shadow cast by the wall. Micro, or drip irrigation systems deliver water efficiently and can be coupled with a timer to automate delivery of water.
A combination of vertical crops, supports and the right containers will help you to get the most from a small space. Of course, there are lots of other solutions for vertical vegetable gardens out there. If you’ve got a great vertical gardening tip, don’t keep it to yourself – share it by dropping us a comment below!