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Vertical Gardening 101: An Introduction to Innovative Growing Solutions

Let’s look at vertical gardening. If you’re here, you probably don’t know much about it yet so we’ll start at the beginning. Growing vertically is a creative way to grow because you have to think outside the box, or in this case, outside of the garden plot.

Vertical gardens help you use space you didn’t even know you had.

Growing a vertical garden has a ton of advantages that can really help make your garden work better for your needs. It can make plants easier to reach, reduce pest problems, add beauty, and much more. It just might be the perfect method for you!

Keep reading as we dive deep into vertical gardening.

A yellow climbing rose growing over an arbor gate. Vertical gardening 101.

Why Choose Vertical Gardening

When you think of growing vertically, do you think of stacked planters, climbing vines, or attractive trellises? The truth is, all of these methods are ways to garden vertically, and there are many more as well.

The great thing about vertical growing is that it often solves a problem. Whether that’s not enough space, keeping fruit off the ground, making plants easier to reach, or something else.

Sometimes people choose vertical gardening just because it’s attractive. Trellises, arbors, and vining plants add beauty and softness to any gardening space.

To Save Space

Traditional gardens are limited by the space available. Only so many pots can fit on a back patio, especially if you’re in an apartment.

With a vertical garden plan, you can make use of much more space than you might think.

For example, in a patio garden, you can gain space by growing plants on the wall or in hanging baskets. In an in-ground or raised garden, use cattle panels, stakes, or an arbor to take advantage of the empty space above where the plants are growing.

To Grow More

You can grow a surprising amount of food in a small area when you use vertical growing methods. By making use of all available space, you’ll have that much more room to plant in.

Growing cucumbers vertically on green wire fencing.

To Keep Plants Off the Ground

Vertical gardening methods are useful for more than just tight spaces. They’re an effective way to keep plants up off the ground which can greatly reduce problems with pests and disease.

Many pathogens live in the soil that can infect plants. Lifting the plants up off the soil minimizes contact with potential pathogens.

And it’s not just the soil. Pests love places to hide. When plants are stretched out along the ground, there are many hiding places for bugs to make a home. When plants are lifted away from the soil, it leaves far fewer places to hide.

Improve Circulation

Much like keeping plants off the ground, vertical gardening is good for the overall health of your plants because it can help improve air circulation.

Imagine a few squash plants growing together. The long vines and large leaves can easily get tangled up with other plants and each other, leading to a major lack of airflow. Poor airflow often leads to fungal diseases like powdery mildew because the leaves can’t properly dry out after watering or rainfall.

Now imagine those same squash plants growing vertically using stakes or an arbor. Each plant has plenty of space to grow without getting tangled up. It’s easy to see which plants would be healthier!

It’s Easy to Care For

A compact, upright garden is more manageable to care for than a large, spread-out garden because it’s easier to reach and easier to see what’s going on.

Vertical gardening with raised bed and trellising.

When you can see your plants clearly, you can identify and treat problems quickly before they get out of hand.

It’s a More Accessible Way to Garden

Vertical growing is an accessible option for people with limited mobility. Unlike with an in-ground bed, it’s possible to set up a vertical garden in such a way that you don’t have to navigate uneven ground, bend over, or kneel down to reach the plants.

No matter what physical challenges you may face, a vertical garden can be designed to work for your needs.

What Can I Grow in a Vertical Garden?

Lettuce and Greens

Lettuce and other greens like spinach or mustard greens grow very well in vertical gardens. They don’t need a lot of space and you can harvest continuously as the plants grow.


Climbing varieties like pole beans and peas are an obvious choice for a vertical vegetable garden, but you don’t have to stop there.

Squashes like zucchini can be grown vertically to save space and keep plants off the ground. Root vegetables like carrots and beets grow well in stacked or raised planters as long as the containers are deep enough.

Even tomatoes can be successfully grown vertically with stakes, a cage, or a trellis.


Strawberries grow well in hanging planters or stacked containers. Grapes are easy to train along a fence or an arbor.

Grapes growing on trellis wires.

Melons grow well on a trellis or arbor, but watch out because they can get really heavy.

If melons get too big, the fruit may fall off of the plant before it’s ripe.

To keep that from happening, choose smaller varieties or use a sling to support the fruits as they grow. You can even use old pantyhose to support melons – who knew?


Herbs are a perfect gateway into gardening. They’re compact, easy to care for, and grow well just about anywhere.

It’s so satisfying to snip off some fresh home-grown herbs to use in your recipes. It can make you feel like a professional chef!


Some gardeners love to grow food, while others love to grow flowers. And who says you have to choose? There’s no reason you can’t have both.

A hanging basket of Million Bells flowers.

Small flower varieties like marigolds and petunias grow well in vertical container gardens or hanging baskets.

Vining varieties like wisteria and morning glory are good for growing over a trellis or arbor.

Types of Vertical Gardens

Green Wall

Green walls are attractive for both Indoor and outdoor spaces. Depending on the size and style, these can be a major wow factor!

They’re also easy to care for. You can hang a vertical planter at a comfortable height so you don’t have to bend over to care for or harvest your plants.

Window Boxes or Gutters

Window boxes add old-fashioned charm and look lovely. They can be hung under windows or over the edge of a deck or balcony.

Window boxes on the front of a home.

Gutters are inexpensive and can be hung similarly to window boxes. You can use them to create a hanging planter or attach them to a wall or fence using brackets.

Stackable Planters

Stackable planters come in a wide variety of sizes. Pick the size and shape based on what you want to grow. Larger containers for plants that need more space, and small ones for compact plants like herbs.

These types of planters can be set on the ground or put on a table to make them easier to reach. Some even come with hooks to hang them up.

Hanging Planters

Hanging planters are ideal for small to medium-sized plants like flowers, strawberries, or herbs.

Plants like peas and beans can trail over the sides of a basket. Smaller varieties of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even zucchini can be grown in hanging planters as well.

Hydroponic Towers

Hydroponic growing kits come in all different sizes and price ranges. A hydroponic tower makes vertical gardening simple and in many cases, less messy than traditional gardening.

Most kits come with everything you need to get started but some may not include plants or seeds so check the description before you order.

Tiered Garden Stand

A tiered garden stand maximized the number of plants you can grow in one space. You can get a stand with planters included or use a stand-alone shelf and choose your own pots.

Indoor tiered garden shelves with plants.

Using Vertical Methods in a Traditional Garden

Vertical gardening isn’t limited to containers and baskets. In-ground gardens can be grown vertically as well.

Large plants like squash, melons, and indeterminate tomatoes, vining plants like peas, beans, and cucumbers, and much more can all be grown vertically.


Use garden stakes and twine to lift plants up as they grow. As the plant grows, loosely tie the main stem to the stake. For quick-growing plants like zucchini, check on the plant every few days, adding a new tie as needed.

Stakes work well for small and medium-sized squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, and many others.

Trellis or Arbor

A trellis offers support to all kinds of plants both large and small. Make an inexpensive trellis by securing netting to garden stakes or choose a ready-made product.

Trellis netting used for vertical gardening of food crops.

Cattle Panels

Cattle panels work well for making all kinds of vertical supports. Secure them with stakes to use as a trellis, bend a long panel into an arbor, or use two panels to create an A-frame.

How to Start a Vertical Garden

Choose a Space and Come Up With a Plan

Will you be using planters or an in-ground bed? Do you want to have a green wall or hang boxes off a deck railing?

Designing the setup of your garden is one of the best parts because you get to create something that meets all of your needs and looks exactly how you want.

Cherry tomatoes growing on trellis string.

Get Soil

Good soil is essential for growing a healthy garden. High-quality soil that’s rich in nutrients leads to stronger and healthier plants. For container growing, choose a reputable brand like Miracle-Gro or Fox Farm.

For in-ground or raised garden beds, check with your local garden center for high-quality soil to purchase in bulk.

Choose Your Plants

Decide what you want to grow and whether you want to start with plants or seeds. Pick varieties you know you enjoy or try something new!

Set It Up

Once you have a plan, it’s time to purchase everything you need and get it set up!

Start by getting any containers, stands, or other equipment set up to make sure it works in the space the way you want it to. If things don’t fit right, you can return or exchange them for something else.

Once that’s done, you can move on to soil and plants.

Things to Watch Out For When Growing Vertically

Growing butternut squash vertically.


Plants grown in containers may become root-bound if they don’t have adequate space to grow. Rootbound plants don’t grow as well or produce as much.

Make sure you choose containers that are large enough for the plants you want to grow and pot up plants when necessary to keep them growing strong.


Containers dry out faster than in-ground beds, especially small ones. Keep potted plants well-watered, especially during extra-hot weather.


Watch out for over or under-fertilizing. Container plants often need added fertilizer to grow their best but too much can do more harm than good. Always follow instructions when using fertilizer to make sure your plants get just the right amount.

Protect Your Walls

Those green walls and hanging planters look amazing, but they can cause some serious damage to your walls if you’re not careful.

Water and fertilizer can seep out, leaking onto the wall underneath.

To avoid this, put a barrier up between the wall and the planter. Plywood, a tarp, or something else thin and waterproof would work.

Give Vertical Gardening a Try!

A top view of wall planters holding houseplants.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to try vertical gardening? It just might be the perfect solution to growing a bigger and healthier garden this year.

To keep reading about different ways to garden, head over to the Gardening page. You’ll find ideas, how-to guides, and all the tips and tricks you need to grow a healthy garden this year. It’s an amazing resource for every gardener, no matter your skill or experience level.