Grow It Up!
Don’t be discouraged if your gardening space is the size of a postage stamp, you have options! You can maximize the space you have in a number of ways by remembering that plants are happy to grow anywhere as long as they have a little bit of soil, some sunshine, and a consistent amount of water. Learn to use your vertical space in creative ways, and the size of your garden, patio, or balcony will not matter. 4 pocketbook friendly vertical gardening ideas.
One of the simplest ways of doing this is to plant up a pallet and attach it to a wall. You can use two basic methods here. In the first, you use a thick landscape fabric to create planting pockets along each “shelf” of the pallet.
In the second, you fill the whole thing with soil and place your plants in it. Lay the pallet flat and staple a double layer of thick landscape fabric to the back. Turn it over again and fill the whole thing with compost. Tamp the compost down until it’s firm, plant up, set it against a wall, and water it from above.
You may want to leave it flat for a few days to let the roots adjust and then when when you lean it upright, place a length of soaker hose along the top to trickle water slowly into the structure.
Planting pockets are panels of small containers designed to be hung from a wall. Some are made of fabric, while others are made of more solid material, such as plastic. Either way, the idea is the same: hang the panels on the wall, fill them with compost, and plant up. This can be a much simpler way of getting a little of the “green wall” effect.
These pocket planters are surprisingly inexpensive at Amazon, see the 9 Pocket Felt Wall Hanging Grow Container Bags or 4 Pocket Vertical Wall Garden Planter. You can have a pocket garden for under $20.
Wall planters are half-pots or half-baskets attached directly to a wall with brackets. They take up very little space and offer a simple design and use. Fill them with trailing geraniums in the summer to create the atmosphere of a little Spanish courtyard. Here’s a 16- inch Wall Planter for under $20 at Amazon.
If you run out of wall space, look to the skies. Hanging baskets require only a sturdy nail to swing from; in return, they will drip with greenery and flowers all summer long. They are cheap to buy and easy to plant up. You will need a few things: the hanging basket itself (bigger is almost always better; the smaller ones dry out fast), a liner of some sort to hold in the compost (real moss pulled up from a lawn works well, but some perfectly respectable fake moss liners are available), a small square cut from a plastic bag, some compost, and some plants. If you are planting for food, choose herbs, trailing tomatoes, and strawberries, all of which make brilliant hanging basket inhabitants. If all you want from your hanging basket is beauty, choose colorful bedding plants.
The traditional recipe for a good-looking hanging basket includes particular ingredients for success: great soil.
Start making your basket by balancing it on the top of a pot, then line it and lay the piece of plastic in the base. This will act as a reservoir for water to help prevent the compost from drying out. Fill the basket with compost until it’s about one-third full, and then plant a few trailing plants into the sides. Build up the compost by another third, covering any roots as you go, and place a few more plants in the sides. Then fill the basket almost to the top with compost (always leave an inch or so of space to make watering easier) and plant the following into the top: one big plant at the center, support plants and fillers around the center plant, and trailers at the edges.
Many shallow rooted plants will do well in a gutter garden. For under $50 I have created a functional but removable gutter garden that I’m very pleased with. I have planted bare root strawberry starts in the top gutter garden. The bottom is already filled with snap peas, radish and leaf lettuce.
Using this method you can successfully grow many plants with shallow root systems. See What can you grow in a 4 inch pot? for more ideas.
Whatever method you use to green up your vertical spaces, your success or lack thereof will entirely depend on the level of care you lavish on the pots and containers you create. Green walls and pots rely on you for water and food. Regularly give them plenty of both, and they will reward you by making color and bounty spring from a place that was previously only concrete and brick.