If you're short on outdoor space, that doesn't mean you have to give up on your dream of owning a thriving vegetable garden. Growing your own food is not only an affordable way to eat healthily, but it just feels good to cook with ingredients when you know exactly where they came from. It's also really convenient to walk outside and pluck a few basil leaves instead of going to your grocery store or local market.
If you love the idea of growing your own food, but you only have a small patio or yard, that shouldn't stop you. If you can't grow out, grow up. Vertical gardens are an innovative way to maximize your small outdoor space by stacking your veggies and herbs instead of planting them in the ground. The results will yield the same robust and tasty vegetables; they just won't take up all your yard space along the way.
Here are 10 vertical gardening ideas to inspire you.
Re-use plant boxes
What's more beautiful than shelves full of plant boxes overflowing with flowers?
Shelves full of plant boxes that will feed you. Gorgeous blooms are great, but self-sustainability is also pretty fantastic.
If you have plant boxes on the smaller side (4"-5"), you can fill them with veggies such as chives, lettuce, radishes, and seasonings such as coriander or basil.
If you have medium-sized planter boxes (6"-7"), try kohlrabi, garlic, onions, peas, thyme, and mint.
For larger plant boxes (8"-9"), opt for carrots, chard, cucumber, eggplant, leeks, and peppers.
You could create a robust salad just from this one vertical gardening wall.
Use a pegboard
Who says pegboards are just for tools or office supplies?
MJ of My Plant Album used an IKEA SKADIS pegboard to create her own vertical garden, and it's adorable and useful. By combining small pegboard shelves and utensil holders, she gave her plants a variety of places to hang, creating a visually pleasing vertical garden, as well as one that you can easily pluck an herb off of.
Label your herbs
What good is it to build a beautiful vertical garden if you don't remember which box you planted the parsley in?
Julie Cavanagh of Cavanagh Woodcrafts made sure to avoid that mistake by clearly labeling each planter box with the herb growing inside of it. Cavanagh built this garden herself with wood panels, creating the look of a wooden fence against her already-standing stone perimeter fence.
Incorporate Grow Lights
If you're housing your vertical garden indoors, you will likely need to add grow lights. Lettuce Grow's Farmstand has already incorporated this technology into its product.
"Don't second-guess your green thumb," says Jacob Pechenik, CEO and Founder of Lettuce Grow.
New to vertical gardening? Pechenik says to just go for it.
"It’s a game-changer," he says. "Many people hesitate and worry about whether or not they have a green thumb, but systems like ours have made it virtually foolproof."
Place your vertical garden in a convenient location
The goal of a vertical garden is to use it, so make sure it's in a location that's easily accessible to you every day.
Pechenik advises, "Try to keep it as close to the kitchen as possible -- with the Farmstand, there's enough yield to be harvesting from it daily."
"Plant the bulk of your garden with herbs and leafy greens which grow fast and don’t require pollination," says Pechenik. This will help your garden flourish quickly, and build your gardening confidence.
Hang a plant-friendly fabric with pockets
Vertical Veg created pocketed panels that you can hang on your patio wall to save space and house your favorite herbs and veggies.
Their tip for those starting in the vertical gardening world? Don't give up.
"Some plants may die, but gardening is an ongoing learning curve and an ongoing joy. Nothing is more rewarding nor empowering than growing your own food."
Repurpose an item you already own
Jennifer of Jenny Says repurposed an old filing cabinet with tiny drawers to create her vertical garden. Repurposing an old item and growing your own food? Double sustainability points.
Jennifer's bright, sunny room allows her to have thriving plant life in this vertical garden without the addition of grow lights. Each indoor space will be different, depending on the light it receives.
House your garden in a sturdy structure
If you're growing upwards, not outwards, your structure will need to withstand winds and the occasional chaos that comes from being outdoors. An iron plant stand with a solid foundation will surely do the trick.
You can just as easily plant parsley in a plant bucket as daisies, so when shopping for plant stands, don't limit yourself to strictly herb garden searches. Any planter shelf or wall will do, as long as it's strong enough to stand alone or hang from a wall.
Use lattice panels
Lattice panels provide small openings that are perfect for inserting units of soil with plant life. Feel free to mix your veggies and herbs in a way that's not only helpful to you but will also be beautiful to look at. Don't worry about the rest; the lattice panels will hold your herbs upright.
Or a ladder
Perhaps the simplest form of a vertical gardening system: a ladder.
Fill traditional planters up with herbs and veggies, and then line them up on a sturdy ladder. This way, you can constantly rotate them and even move the entire structure to a different area of your yard if it's not getting the right amount of light. This is an affordable and extremely non-committal way to dip your toe into vertical gardening.
So if you previously thought that you only have enough room on your patio for a grill and a lounge chair, now you know you have room for so much more. This spring, consider a vertical garden to add to your outdoor space. It'll feel good to grow your own food, and it will also be beautiful to behold.