The Benefits of a Vertical Garden

Tired of gardening in long, horizontal beds? Vertical gardening offers many advantages over horizontal growing.

| April 2011 Web

  • "Vertical Gardening" shows how the vertical garden system reduces work, increases yields and makes harvesting easier.
    Photo Courtesy Rodale

The following is an excerpt from Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell (Rodale, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 1: What is a Vertical Garden? 

If you've gardened in long, horizontal beds for even a single growing season, you've probably thought to yourself, "There has to be a better way." Well, you're right—there is a better way. Vertical gardening offers many advantages over horizontal growing.

Smaller beds to prepare and maintain. When growing plants with a vertical habit, you’ll need a bed only as large as the root systems of those plants—one that’s much smaller than a traditional bed. When you plant horizontally, you tend to have narrow rows of plants and wide swaths of soil between them. It’s those wide swaths that drink up much of the water, send up innumerable weeds, and consume the nutrients needed by your plants. With vertical gardening, you prepare only small spots or strips of fertile soil—just enough to give plants a nutritious base from which to climb up supports. These vertical garden beds require less compost, fertilizer, and water, and only a few bucketfuls of mulch or a little black plastic to control weeds. Compost goes further when you cut back on bed space, so you won’t need to buy, generate, or use as much compost in order to amend your soil each season. And whether you plan to water with a watering can or use a drip irrigation system, you’ll find that watering your small plots of soil is a cinch, and your drip hose can be short.

Vertical pots and containers for very small spaces. If you don’t have any (or much) garden space—say, just a concrete patio or a balcony—or if you can’t easily amend your soil or build a raised bed, then consider using tower pots or other containers that help you grow upward in a column. Tower pots are commercial containers that stack one on top of the other and enable you to grow vertically a variety of plants that don’t vine (such as lettuce, peppers, and strawberries). Plus, you can easily add trellises and supports within containers or “planted” just behind containers to create a vertical garden in a limited space. And if you need to be really creative with garden space, try mounting containers at various heights on a fence or wall to create a visual vertical garden.

Fewer pests, diseases, and problems to handle. When you begin to garden vertically, you’ll notice a big difference in the health of your plants. Lift flowering and fruiting vines and crops off the ground, and pests and diseases are not as destructive. Ripening fruit and vegetables remain clean, show fewer deformities, are less susceptible to rot, and don’t require tedious washing to remove garden soil. With plants up off the ground, you’ll easily spot any potential insect infestations before they have a chance to reach plague proportions. Simply blasting the bugs off the vines with a strong jet of water and rubbing stems with a cloth to destroy dormant insect eggs are often all that’s needed to avoid problems.

Increased yields in a small space. By concentrating on growing upward in columns rather than outward in rows, you’re reducing the soil footprint needed to grow plants while encouraging denser growth. Most trellises and supports can accommodate plants growing on both sides. When growing edibles against a support system mounted on a wall, you need to project the trellis or garden netting away from the wall by only about 6 inches, to allow plants to produce yields in back as well as in front of the support. This also improves air circulation and discourages mildew and other fungal diseases.



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me