Small spaces are proving creative outlets for keen gardeners during lockdowns. Tiny gardens, petite patios and bijou balconies are all receiving green makeovers to create oasis of calm for some much-needed escape.
Using containers and pots has traditionally been the way to pack a small plot with plants. But a the growing trend for vertical gardening is encouraging planting to go up in the world with some stunning results.
Not only do these walls of green look fantastic, but they are also easier to maintain and harvest. All you need is a free wall or fence that is easy to reach and sturdy enough to take the weight of anything that is attached to it.
The best plants for vertical gardening
Growing your own crop of edibles such as strawberries, herbs, salad, chillies and cherry tomatoes (such as tumbling tom) is incredibly satisfying. Being able to eat something freshly picked tastes so much better than when it has travelled hundreds of miles and sat for days on supermarket shelves.
Ferns provide a lovely shaded feeling to spaces with their beautiful green fronds. They don’t like too much sun so would better suit a north or east facing space. Mixing different varieties will give you a lovely textural look created by the different leaf shapes and colours.
Flowers will brighten any wall and can add splashes of colour that change throughout the year. You could also plant a few edible flowers such as nasturtiums to brighten up salad bowls during the summer. Many bedding or perennial plants will transfer well to vertical growing, but if in doubt have a chat with your garden centre to help with choice. Try and mix a selection of evergreens such as ivory, with plants that provide seasonal interest.
Succulents look wonderfully weird and are pretty hardy, making them a good choice for those who want a plant that doesn’t need too much care. You can create amazing tapestries of colour by mixing and matching these plants together.
Adding a few grasses into the mix add height and softness to your scheme. As well as welcome splashes of colour such as the lovely bronze of the Anemanthele lessoniana (formerly known as Stipa arundinacea) or deep red foliage of Pennisetum x advena ‘Rubrum’.
Whatever you select remember the choice is yours and there is no harm in mixing your edibles in with your flowers and ferns.
What to use for vertical planters?
Google ‘vertical gardening planters’ and you’ll see plenty of options for buying off the shelf structures. For those amongst us who love a bargain there is much fun to be had reusing and recycling almost anything you have got lying around the home. It is also a great activity to get the kids involved with as they search out potential pots and help to convert them into planters.
Here are just a few ideas to help get you started.
Pipes and gutters make cheap and effective planters that can be easily be attached to a wall or fence with brackets. Alternatively, they can be suspended between posts or within a simple square frame.
Old crates have a lovely vintage look and can easily be stacked one of top of the other to create vertical height, or a stepped planting scheme.
Turned up on their sides and placed against a wall, a pallet is a cheap and easy way to instantly create a vertical garden. You can either plant into the gaps or use it to hang pots from.
Plastic bottles can easily be repurposed into planters that can be suspended by string or wire in whatever fashion you like. Hang them individually or clustered in groups. You can even create a tiered effect by hanging one bottle above another.
An old garden ladder or step ladder, creates an instant vertical garden that you can place your pots on. A simple idea for both inside and outside.
Fabric storage pockets are an easy way to create an instant hanging garden. Hang in place. Fill each pocket with compost, add a plant, herb or edible and you’re good to go.
Trellis allows you to easily hang pots in whatever fashion you like. Go for formal symmetry or freestyle it out for a more informal feel. Using wire mesh to act like a trellis achieves an industrial feel for a more modern garden.
Make your succulents picture perfect by planting them in an old picture frame. These are effective either by themselves or hung as a group of frames.
Just remember when you do create your planters ensure that there is adequate drainage, so your plants do not become waterlogged. And that you feed and water regularly to keep them in tip top condition.
Growing up is not just for small gardens
Vertical gardening is not limited to small spaces. Larger gardens can also benefit from these walls of green to provide an interesting backdrop to a seating area or garden feature. They also make the perfect screens to private areas giving a sense of enclosure and escape from the rest of the garden.
In fact these types of garden are proving so popular that their concept is even making their way indoors. Indoor living walls and pictures are gracing many a glamorous home.
Share your green spaces
Whether you are a newly fledged gardener or as experienced as Monty Don, we would love to see your garden pictures and projects to help inspire others to get outside and enjoy gardening.
Or if your garden is in need of a makeover or a little TLC, please feel free to get in touch. Our experienced landscape and grounds maintenance teams are ready to transform gardens of all sizes and shapes. You can reach us on 01628 629720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.