living wall

A living wall painting echoes the pathway and garden.

To accommodate small space gardening we have learned to be more efficient with our space. And because of the demand for this special efficiency, products have been developed to make the job easier. The result is that now gardens are not limited to backyards. Instead you can grow on balconies, patios and odd spaces by planting vertically. This means you can cover unused walls, cascade gardens down steep declines or hang them from ceilings, uprights or railings. Not only are these up-and-down gardens suitable for limited spaces but they are decorative and can be included in larger landscapes for powerful design effects.

Vertical gardening can take a number of forms. As in the past, it can be as simple as training vines up a wall or using a trellis. You can buy or make a trellis out of any material that will resist outdoor weathering. It can be the typical fan or ladder shape, a wire grid fastened to the wall, or fashioned out of imaginative, recycled materials like old wrought iron fencing, a re-purposed metal security door or wooden railing – anything that would allow climbing plants support.

ivy wall

A plain wall carpeted with living ivy, forms a clean, textural vertical backdrop.


red wall and plant pockets

Plant pockets decorate a bright red wall

Attaching containers to the wall can not only offer planted hanging gardens, but create an opportunity to make the wall into art with artistic, whimsical or decorative container choices like kitchenware, colorful ceramics or brilliantly painted tin. You can buy fabric ‘pockets’ that hang from your walls and come complete with planting pockets, watering and drainage. When the pockets are planted they can cover the wall entirely or even offer fresh vegetables for the picking.

hanging petunias

Hang baskets of bright petunias atop each other for a colorful effect

Also available are whole systems you can purchase that can be assembled to produce a safe layer of living wall for planting. You can construct your own system, too, but be careful since plants need regular water and good root space – both of which could compromise the wall of any structure if the planting layer is not built right. Study your choices in materials and building design to find the best way to construct your vertical wall garden.

Don’t forget about the old fashioned hanging gardens planted in dangling containers.

These can append from railings, ceilings, the edges of stairs or any other place you choose to dangle the living jewelry of flowers. Long cascading plants can even form a curtain as a divider, for privacy or just for decoration. Blankets of up and down gardening can also cover up areas you want to hide or form drapes to frame a view.

Use different kinds of containers or even precast planters to display plants that climb, spill, hang, cling or dangle. The containers can be part of your design or can be constructed to create a design of their own. You can also plant edible in your vertical garden — or mix showy flowers with fruits and vegetables.