You want to beautify your home, yard, or office, but you’re on a budget and have to do it yourself. Have you considered a DIY vertical garden? Adding greenery and life is a surefire way to brighten and beautify any space. If you’ve seen vertical gardens in large corporate offices or glamorous hotels, you might think they’re out of your price range. However, there are
many types of vertical garden that are surprisingly easy to DIY with affordable materials.
Researchers have discovered that having live plants around can boost our mood and even improve our physical health. Ready to experience the benefits for yourself?
What is a Vertical Garden?
“Vertical garden” sounds like an oxymoron, right? However, plants have been growing on vertical places like cliff sides and tree trunks since long before humans walked the earth. A vertical garden harnesses that ability to grow just about anywhere, making it possible to build a garden on your wall.
A DIY vertical garden uses the latest gardening technology, such as hydroponics, or simple soil-based planters to grow plants vertically. You can build a freestanding vertical garden or attach yours to a wall. Once built, you can keep one growing for decades with the right maintenance.
This garden style makes a great alternative to potted plants in your home or workspace. Potted plants look nice, but take up a lot of space and often need lots of maintenance. Vertical gardens might sound hard to maintain, but since there’s often only one wall instead of multiple separate pots, they’re typically easier to care for than free-standing potted plants. Plus, there’s nothing quite so striking as a wall of plants.
You might hear vertical gardens referred to by a few different names, such as green walls, living walls, and living walls. The gardens can be so small they fit in a picture frame, or so large they cover an entire exterior wall. You don’t need much space to grow an impressive, beautiful DIY vertical garden!
Indoor vs. Outdoor Vertical Gardens
Inside, a DIY vertical garden makes the space beautiful, improves air quality, and is soothing to the mind and body. They’re also great for helping with noise pollution since the garden can help block out sounds from the other side of the wall.
Exterior vertical gardens often thrive thanks to all the natural sunlight they get. They can help protect exterior walls from damage due to the sun and the weather, and they help insulate a building against changes in temperature.
Whether you choose to build yours indoors or outdoors depends on the space you have and where you think a green wall would look and grow the best. Either way, you can DIY it! Let’s take a look at some of the top types of vertical gardens to choose from.
Vertical Garden Types
The type of DIY vertical garden you choose depends on the space you have and the visual effect you want to give. These are some of the most common types of gardens you might build, but the only limit is your imagination. You can come up with your own creative vertical garden designs too – use these for inspiration.
Container vertical garden
As long as you have a way to arrange them vertically, you can grow your vertical garden using containers. Use shelves for the pots, then add verticals or trellises so the plants can expand across the vertical space. You can also start with the containers on the ground and use the verticals or trellises to guide the plants along the wall as they grow.
This is one of the easiest types of vertical gardens to build. And since you can choose where to place the containers, you can build it just about anywhere.
An arbor is one of the most popular types of outdoor vertical garden. This is a great way to beautify an entryway or any space in your garden. Arbors give a dramatic effect and are perfect for taking pictures!
Of course, an arbor doesn’t have to include plants. But the effect will be that much more dramatic with plants that grow up the sides of the arbor to eventually reach the top. Start your climbing plants growing next to the arbor and use cloth ties to guide them up.
Vertical gardens don’t have to be purely decorative. Either indoors or outdoors, try adding a practical and lovely vegetable garden to your space.
This saves you from having to bend over to care for your vegetables, which is great for avid gardeners with mobility issues. You can build a basic vertical vegetable garden with containers and stakes, or make them as elaborate as you want with just about any style of green wall. Small vegetables and leafy plants like lettuce and herbs are ideal for these gardens.
The most dramatic effect is the garden that grows directly on the wall. You can build a free-standing green wall or install one on your existing indoor or outdoor wall. You can also use a fence or other vertical structure for a walled garden.
Tiered container garden
If you have space – this is best suited for outdoors – you can also build a tiered DIY vertical garden. Instead of being a strictly vertical green wall, this will end up looking more like a pyramid. Start on the ground, then tier the containers inward as you build them upward.
This gives your garden a unique architectural look and is a great way to make more use of your space since you can grow more plants if they’re tiered rather than horizontal. You can also make the structure more elaborate with decorative elements like rocks or water features.
Finally, you can build your vertical garden from the ceiling down with a hanging garden. Use the ceiling or a railing to hang pots from, staggering the heights for the most dramatic effect. This works well in a room that gets a lot of sunlight, or on your porch or patio. When it gets cold, you can also easily move your outdoor hanging garden indoors.
DIY Vertical Garden Guide
Now that you have some ideas in mind, it’s time to start building! No matter what kind of DIY vertical garden you choose, follow these steps to make it happen.
Choose the type
Using the guide above, choose the style of DIY vertical garden that will work best for you. In addition to those basic types, there are countless other creative ways to build your green wall. For example, you can grow a “pocket garden” using a vertical panel of cloth pockets that plants can grow in. Or you can repurpose old wooden shipping pallets into green walls.
You can build your garden from scratch entirely or DIY it using a ready-made planter, depending on how much work you want to invest. Choose from soil-based or hydroponics systems, and consider what type of plants you’ll be growing – this will make the design decision easier.
Obviously, the place you’ll put your garden is a significant factor in how you’ll design it.
Indoors or outdoors, in a large space or a small one – you can put a vertical garden anywhere. The most important thing to think about is sun exposure. This will affect what kinds of plants you can grow successfully.
For example, if you decide to grow the currently-popular decorative succulents, you’ll want to pick a space that has partial shade and partial sun for the best results. You can also buy a portable wall planter that you can move inside, or outside, depending on the weather.
Pick the plants
Vegetables, herbs, cacti, vines, flowers? Pick the plants that will thrive where you place your DIY vertical garden. No matter what your pick is, look for plants that tend to grow soft and flexible, rather than stiff and woody. Flexible plants are better suited for vertical growth since they’ll hang down instead of sticking straight out. They're also less likely to get damaged if you accidentally brush past them.
Most of the time, you’ll want a mix of different plants for your garden to get the right look. Just make sure they’ll all thrive in the same habitat. You should also pick plants that grow at more or less the same rate. Otherwise, the faster-growing ones will quickly overshadow the slow ones and shade them out.
Plant them right
Now that you’ve got the materials, it’s time to plant your DIY vertical garden!
If yours is soil-based, start with high-quality potting soil. Just like potted plants, vertical gardens will dry out faster without potting soil. It helps hold in the moisture after watering.
You’ll also need to consider the effects of gravity on a vertical garden. The plants that need less water should go to the top of the green wall, while the plants that need more should go at the bottom. More water consolidates on the bottom, so make sure every plant will thrive where you place it.
You should prep your plants before starting them vertically, too. Give them a few weeds of horizontal growth so they can establish roots to hold the soil when it’s vertical. Otherwise, gravity will pull all the soil toward the bottom of the wall, with no roots to stop it.
Sometimes, people will hold the soil together with wire and glue. However, plants are naturally designed to hold soil in place with their root systems, so why not let them do the work for you? To really make things secure, take a few weeks to gradually elevate the garden from a horizontal to a vertical position.
Try drip irrigation
Initially, a DIY vertical garden can take a lot of work to get started. However, it is easy to keep one growing after you first establish it.
Since a green wall holds compact, small amounts of soil, the plants might need to be watered more often. If you have a large green wall, a drip irrigation system can make maintenance much easier. You can create an elaborate drip system with hoses, or just strategically place holes in the bottoms of the planters or pockets so the water will drip down. The goal is to get the water evenly distributed across the wall with minimal effort from you.
Buy extra plants
In spite of your best efforts, some of the plants will die off from time to time. However, a green wall starts to look less appealing when it’s full of holes. Buy spare plants to replace the ones that die out as needed.
Ready to Get Started?
Creating a DIY vertical garden is as easy or challenging as you want it to be. With so many different green wall options, the sky’s the limit – or the ceiling, at least. Just follow these steps to get the right design for your space.
Having plants around can help remove toxins from the air, reduce stress, improve productivity, and more. A vertical garden is a fun way to reap these benefits. Indoors or outdoors, in a tiny apartment or a big house, filled with flowers or vegetables – there’s a green wall style for everyone.
What kind of vertical garden will you grow? Leave a comment and let us know!