Indoors or Out: Tips for Creating a Vertical Garden

updated Jun 25, 2020
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Remember when vertical gardens first hit the scene? They were glorious, but they all seemed to require access to a 20-story building, an impossibly high-tech irrigation system, and approximately three million dollars worth of plants. These days there are vertical gardens—and vertical garden tutorials—to suit every space, style, level of skill, greenness of thumb, and plant budget.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Protect the Walls and Floors

Erick created his living feature wall out of plants from Lowe’s and the Woolly One from Woolly Pockets. In the comments, he helpfully shared some tips for the crucial matter of protecting your walls and floors.

leadingedge @ErickMillan sorry one other question. do you find that the woolly pockets cause moisture on the wall that they are hanging on?

ErickMillan @leadingedge Hi ! I would suggest that before you mount your wolly pockets on the wall, put an extra layer of plywood (coated with water sealer), it takes more time but it will save you lot of money in the future.

MelCrawf @ErickMillan Interesting idea — still worried about walls (and the floor underneath?) I love it so much I’m so tempted to try it, but I love my 98 year old floors a little more… 🙂 Beautiful home, and amazing use of plants.

ErickMillan @MelCrawf the trick is wetting the back of the wolly pocket with not a lot of water. But if you want to be extra careful water them in the morning, put a bucket under neat and by the afternoon you are able to remove the bucket.

(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Maybe Leave the Irrigation to the Pros

This fabulous vertical garden was installed by Allen Silverman using products from Woolly Pocket. Growing something this ambitious indoors requires an irrigation system—which can be tricky to get right, as Snog Productions confessed.

Biggest Embarrassment: The rainforest cafe!! That’s what we called the vertical garden for the first few months after installing it and getting the irrigation system just right. It rained for about 3 minutes every Tuesday at noon.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Build a Bathroom Garden (Using Kitchen Materials)

This lush wall garden was made by the residents using IKEA kitchen rails and utensil holders. The happily growing herbs add a pleasant scent to the bathroom at all times but are especially indulgent when added to a hot bath.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Let One Plant Run Wild

Tim’s home boasts many beautiful plants, but one takes the cake. Yes, this vertical garden consists of just one amazing plant that Tim has cultivated for over a decade; in the comments he revealed the origins of the beast.

lleello Looks really amazing! Can anyone tell me the name of that giant plant please? That photo makes want to start something similar too.

rosekraft @lleello It’s a Cissus rhombifolia, common name – grape ivy. Goes crazy if it likes the light and temperature conditions.

Tim Tripp @lleello I can confirm, it’s a grape ivy. The previous owner had left a moderate sized pot of it on the corner where the biggest bunch is now. It did so well that that repotted it into a bigger container, then picked up some window boxes to spread it along the hall.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Go Modular

Sofia created her vertical garden out of cinderblocks, demonstrating that these humble blocks can be chic as hell. A plant wall like this can be added to and reconfigured as needed, allowing your garden to grow as your gardening skills and plant budget do—or as you come across more cinderblocks!

Grow a Feast in a Few Square Feet

Don’t despair if you have a postage stamp-sized yard. This tower garden is overflowing with lettuces, strawberries, herbs, and other lightweight edible plants, all on a very small footprint. The version pictured here was designed by Arterra Landscape Architects and can be obtained for $2,000, or you can use Sunset‘s tutorial to build your own for about $140.

(Image credit: bre PURPOSED)

When in Doubt: Pegboard

Not just for kitchens and workshops anymore, pegboard is perfect for creating a vertical garden. You could make a petite version like this one for a studio apartment or cover an entire wall if you’ve got space to spare.

(Image credit: Lana Red Studios)

Be Flexible

This project makes use of inexpensive steel mesh and cheap hooks and pots from IKEA. You can easily install wire frames to the wall or ceiling, making your vertical garden relatively easy to add to, subtract from, or move around.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Hang It All

A vertical garden can rely solely on the ceiling for support, as seen in this living, hanging room divider. The vertical and wheelbarrow gardens Carlos created work perfectly with his loft’s practical, imaginative vibe.

The vertical garden is constantly a work in progress. I tied into the ceiling joists and have been working towards a multiple tiered hanging system so that the excess water goes into subsequent pots. It is comprised mostly of spider plants except for the Tradescantia on the corner closest to the window. I found the wheelbarrow near my old apartment and decided to convert it into a garden. It conveniently captures excess water from the vertical wall, and can be easily moved around for cleaning and maintenance.

(Image credit: Submitted by Madalyn)

Make the Most of Vertical Space (& Humidity)

Yes, this is technically horizontal, but it hangs above your head, so that counts as vertical in my book. A vertical garden in the bathroom will harness the power of your shower to keep your plants growing lushly overhead.

(Image credit: Ângelo Fernandes)

Make a Truly Green Garden

As far as I can tell, this is a 3-D rendering, which means this hanging garden made of recycled bottles doesn’t exist in the world. I’m counting on one of you to make it real.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Get Your Security Deposit Back

Sam and Linsey created a room divider by building a set of shelves out of pipes and salvaged wood and filling them with enthusiastic plants. A store-bought set of shelves could also be used, but this homemade set is their proudest DIY!

Proudest DIY: The plant shelf. Have we told you how much we love plants? There was a period though where I felt like were maxed out and then Sam said to me “So, I’d really like to get more plants.” It made me laugh. I added “We are running out of places to put them!” So I built him a plant shelf. It also acts as a room divider. The biggest challenge with this big open space is making it feel divided but not shut off. The plant shelf was the perfect balance for dividing the room but allowing it to still feel airy and open.

(Image credit: SLA)

Put Shelves Up (and Up and Up)

This Amsterdam salad bar demonstrates that standard shelves, such as the ubiquitous IKEA Ekby, can be used to make something really special—especially if you have ultra-high ceilings.

(Image credit: The Home Depot Blog)

Find the DIY that Works for YOU

No matter how much space, light, heat, outdoor access, or freedom to drill holes you do or don’t have, there’s a thorough vertical garden tutorial out there that’s perfect for you.