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How to Build a Vertical Garden from Scratch

How to Build a Vertical Garden from Scratch

Living in limited spaces, especially in the hustle and bustle of the city, shouldn’t hinder you from enjoying your own nature-filled oasis. Enter vertical gardens!

Whether you grow herbs, a garden border, or an accent wall in your home, you can quickly build your vertical garden if you follow the easy steps we’ve laid down for you in this article

What is a vertical garden?

What is a vertical garden
Image: Krishi Jagran

A vertical garden is a planting system for growing plants using an upright support structure. This is perfect for urban gardeners who can grow plants upwards following arbors, arches or trellises attached to walls.

Since plants are kept above the ground and less susceptible to pests, root rot and other diseases, some common plants used in vertical gardens are pole beans, tomatoes, zucchini, pothos, succulents, peperomias, and herbs.

What are the benefits of a vertical garden?

What are the benefits of a vertical garden
Image: Gardener’s Path

Vertical gardening is a space-saving technique that keeps plants healthy and easy to maintain. Here’s why. 

1. Vertical gardening saves space.

Vertical gardening saves space.
Image: By Brittany Goldwyn

Vertical gardens run up and down, saving you much space without limiting the number of crops you can grow. This is ideal for urban farms, small gardens, or other crowded areas you want to convert to fresh greenery.

2. Vertical gardening keeps plants healthy.

Vertical gardening keeps plants healthy.
Image: Treehugger

Since plants are grown vertically, they get more sunlight, proper air circulation and better drainage compared to when they’re on the ground. 

This setup results in higher yield and lower risk of fungal and bacterial infections, pest infestations and other plant diseases.

3. Vertical gardening is low-maintenance. 

Vertical gardening is low-maintenance. 
Image: Country Living

As you complete your vertical garden, the good news is that you won’t have to spend many hours under the sun planting those seeds. 

In the long run, since they’re firmly lined against the wall, these vertical gardens are easier to water, trim, and harvest than flat gardens or raised beds.

How to Build a Vertical Garden

How to Build a Vertical Garden
Image: Urban Plants

Now that you’re ready to enjoy the benefits of a vertical garden, follow these seven easy steps to build your own!

1. Choose the right wall and vertical garden structure.

Depending on your needs and available area, you can choose from different do-it-your-own vertical gardens. Let’s get to know each type!

Living Walls

Living Walls
Image: Better Homes & Gardens

Living walls refer to planting the greenery directly into a wall, converting it into a garden bed. You can use wall pockets or wire mesh to hang your plants on the wall.

If you’re feeling artsy, you can first attach a fabric, cloth or plastic sheet to the wall before drilling your plants and their containers directly into the wall surface. 

Window Boxes

Window Boxes
Image: Pretty Handy Girl

These window boxes pertain to the wall-mounted plant boxes you can place on your balcony or windowsills. They’re best used for trailing plants, succulents, herbs and seasonal flowers.  

It’s a simple way to keep the planter boxes and plants above the ground while giving you easy access for watering, pruning and other plant care activities.

Wall Trellis

Wall Trellis
Image: Balcony Garden Web

Wall trellises usually come in the form of lattices or interwoven wood, bamboo or metal pieces. They support and display vining plants, such as tomatoes, ivy and shrubs, against an outdoor wall.

Tiered Hanging Gardens

Tiered Hanging Gardens
Image: Greenhouse Megastore

With tiered hanging gardens, you can arrange different layers for various plant types in a small space. 

For instance, bush-type tomatoes are a great plant choice in tiered hanging gardens since there will be more space for its vines to trail over the pot’s side. 

Freestanding Setups

Freestanding Setups
Image: Homestead and Chill

Vertical gardens can also complement your horizontal gardens with freestanding setups. 

Standalone structures such as wire cages, trellises, poles or obelisks can be placed on top of your horizontal garden, providing vining plants more support and preventing them from catching plant diseases from the soil.


Image: Garden Design

If you want something more creative, you can show off your vertical garden by making entryway archers, arbors or pergolas. They support your vining plants and serve as a unique welcoming feature to your house or garden. 

2. Build the vertical garden frame.

Build the vertical garden frame.
Image: Good Housekeeping
DifficultyAverage ●●●○○
Duration1 to 4 hours
Things You Need• Three pieces of 2-by-8-inch lumber
• Saw
• Paint 
• Screw
• Drill
How to Do:
1. Prepare the three pieces of 2-by-8-inch lumber, which you will use for the outer edge and the mid-board as a support structure.
2. Cut the lumber into four equal pieces, with each having 4-inch sections. This will be used to form the frame. 
3. Cut the fifth piece of lumber into 4-inch sections. This will be used as the backer board later. 
4. Paint your wood or add a stain of your choice before assembling. Let the wood dry completely.
5. Drill two screws into the edges of the four corners of the lumber to form the main frame.

3. Add mid-board support and a backing layer.

Add mid-board support and a backing layer.
Image: Angi
DifficultyAverage ●●●○○
Duration1 to 4 hours
Things You Need• 2-by 8-inch lumber
• Saw
• Screw
• Drill
• Gussets
• Felt, chicken wire or plastic for the backing layer
How to Do:
1. Make an angular cut on a piece of lumber to create a gusset. 
2. Screw the gussets to the bottom of the corner beams to keep them in place. 
3. Attach the mid-board to the back of the main frame using screws. 
4. If you plan to have multiple layers or attachment points in your vertical garden, cut one piece of lumber in half and screw them above and below the mid-board.
5. Install your chosen material for the backing layer to the back portion and in front of the mid-board. You can install felt or plastic using nails, while chicken wire can be installed using a staple gun.

4. Install plant boxes.​​

Install plant boxes.​​
Image: The Crafty Gentleman
DifficultyAverage ●●●○○
Duration1 to 4 hours
Things You Need• 1 to 2-inch thick wood
• Paint or stain
• Screw or nails
• Drill
• Measuring tape
• Saw
• Plastic
How to Do:
1. Cut the wood into your desired size. The common width for planter boxes is 2, 4, 6 or 8 inches.
2. Begin by assembling the bottom of the plant box. Then, attach the sides of the plant box to the bottom. 
3. Drill half-an-inch drainage holes at the bottom of the plant box for proper water drainage.
4. Paint or stain the plant boxes to match your ideal design.
5. Line the plant boxes with a plastic sheet to protect the wood from moisture.
6. Fill the plant boxes with soil and transplant your chosen vertical garden plants.

5. Mount the vertical garden.

Mount the vertical garden.
Image: The Spruce

Now, you can attach your vertical garden to the wall or your chosen structure using screws or nails. Make sure to screw along the main frame’s backboards and top corners. 

If you’d like to keep your vertical garden movable, install it with a slight tilt or place a bench or a stone arrangement in front of it.

6. Add the vertical garden plants.

Add the vertical garden plants.
Image: Martha Stewart

The final and most crucial step is to transfer your plants to your plant boxes. Arrange them whichever way you want, and ta-da: a vertical garden!

Tips on Maintaining Vertical Gardens

Tips on Maintaining Vertical Gardens
Image: Vertical Green

The job doesn’t end with building your vertical garden. Now it’s time to put your green thumb into action and care for your vertical garden plants. 

Here are our top 5 proven and tested tips on maintaining vertical gardens.

1. Choose the right plant. 

Choose the right plant. 
Image: Real Living

First, your Pinterest board pegs for your vertical garden should match reality and practicality. You should choose the right plant that will thrive in a vertical setting.

In choosing vertical garden plants, you should consider their growth, habits, planting and growing seasons, and behavior with other plants. 

The most common vertical garden plants are the annual, perennial and shady vines and edible or columnar plants. Here’s an overview of the plants that you can choose from. 

Plant TypeExamples
Annual Vines1. Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)
2. Cardinal climber (Ipomoea x multifida)
3. Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
4. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba),
5. Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
6. Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab)
Perennial Vines1. Clematis hybrids
2. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
3. Ivy (Hedera selections)
Shady Vines

1. Hardy kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)
2. Chocolate vine (Akebia quinata)
3. Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)
4. Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris).
Edible Plants1. Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa)
2. Siberian gooseberries (Actinidia arguta)
3. Nasturtiums
4. Peas
5. Squash
6. Tomatoes
7. Pole beans.
Columnar Plants1. Columnar apple trees
2. Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
3. Junipers (Juniperus scopulorum)
4. Lombardy poplars (Populus nigra)

2. Choose the correct location. 

Choose the correct location. 
Image: Antropocene

Most plants follow the sun – their energy source – and so should your vertical garden. 

The perfect vertical garden location has access to adequate sunlight. Otherwise, all your plants won’t survive. 

3. Use well-draining containers.

Use well-draining containers.
Image: Gardener’s World

Most vertical gardens use hanging containers or window boxes to grow as many plants as possible. 

As you enjoy building your vertical garden, don’t forget to drill drainage holes in these containers to prevent root rot and the buildup of fungus, bacteria and mildew that can harm your plants. 

4. Water your plants regularly.

Water your plants regularly.
Image: FTD

Vertical hanging plants get more sun and air circulation because of their position. As a result, they’ll also need to be watered more frequently, or else they’ll become dehydrated, wilt or eventually die.

This is why watering your vertical garden plants regularly or through an automated irrigation system is essential. 

5. Watch out for pests and diseases.

Watch out for pests and diseases.
Image: Epic Gardening

Although vertical garden plants are slightly above the ground, this does not guarantee complete immunity against pests and diseases. There will always be that ongoing threat to plants, especially when left unattended. 

You should always check your plants’ leaves, stems, flowers and soil regularly for any sign of pests, malnourishment or infection. As they say, prevention is better than cure. 

FAQs on Vertical Gardening

How does vertical gardening benefit the community?

Vertical gardening improves health and air quality by acting as a natural air filter in the community.

What is the structure of a vertical garden?

Common vertical garden structures are fences, arbors, trellises, obelisks, and hanging baskets. They are used to train the vertical garden plants to grow upwards.

What is the best material for a vertical garden?

Wood is the best material for building vertical garden structures because it is easy to work with, durable, readily available and flexible enough to make all parts of the vertical garden.

What is the best soil mix for vertical gardens?

The best soil mixes for vertical gardens are cocopeat, perlite, vermiculite and vermicompost. These are light common media combinations suitable for vertical gardens, unlike soil which increases the weight of these green walls.

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