Grow your own herbs, vegetables, succulents or ornamentals in a DIY vertical garden

Got no space? Maybe you live in an apartment or your backyard has been taken over by swing sets and skateboard ramps. In some cases, your yard’s design and orientation make gardening tough because of sun exposure or water access. No problem! Just go vertical and put your garden in a spot that works for you.

When you grow vegetables vertically, you not only cut down on space, but can cut down on pests. Your plants receive more air circulation, more sun and are less accessible to creepy crawling insects. You also can control and amend soil more easily in small containers than in your lawn.

The vertical garden appeals to the creative and practical, so it’s a great family project. Here are a few smart and crafty ideas:

  • Grow your own salad garden. You’ll never find greens as fresh as those you cut from your own yard or patio and bring right inside. Using a rack or pallet, fill the back side with coconut fiber and soil to support the plants’ roots. Or make your own vertical set-up with window boxes or a simple shelf made of stair risers and filled with various pots.
  • Use old rain gutters. Place your greens or any small plant in leftover rain gutters. String the gutters together (vertically, of course) and drill a few tiny holes in the bottom of each for drainage. Place the items that need the most water in the bottom gutter – so smart! In fact, you can conserve and reuse water from any vertical garden by placing buckets below the pots, pallets, boxes or gutters and catching as much as you can, then running it through again.
  • Is your window sill sunny, but narrow? You can still have fresh herbs stove-side by growing them vertically. Mount a few mason jars or terracotta pots on a board, or hang a few pots from a hook in the ceiling
  • Repurpose and fill with dirt. Like the rain gutters and pallets, repurpose anything you can find. Use scrap wood to make boxes, fill mason jars, or use an old shoe or spice rack. Stack old cement blocks haphazardly to take advantage of their openings. Lean or mount your vertical plant holder against the wall. If aesthetics are important, paint the outside of add some of your own style to the design. Just make sure that the container you use is nontoxic if you plan to grow edibles inside.
  • You also can purchase pockets or trays designed for holding plants vertically and mounting on walls. Or try these little supports that clamp onto the back of your pots. You won’t even have to build a structure for your garden if you hang a few pots on your fence.

Get creative and start small with a few of your favorite edibles or ornamentals if you want to test the waters. Once you get going with vertical gardening, the sky’s the limit!

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This post is adapted from the May 17, 2014 episode of Home Wizards that was released on iTunes May 18, 2014.