Melinda Myers: Vertical gardening increases beauty and harvest

Move to portrait to expand your outdoor gardening space, create privacy and add beauty to exposed walls and fences. This centuries-old technology has been used to grow foods and flowers, adding beauty and productivity from the ground up. Even those gardening in small city spaces, balconies, and decks can go vertical to expand their gardening opportunities.

Plant beans, peas, zucchini, melons, tomatoes and other edible vines on supports. This saves space, reduces the risk of disease and makes harvesting much easier.

Enjoy the many benefits of vertical gardening even when growing in containers. Create your own or purchase one that securely fits and supports the vines growing in the planter. Or buy a container with a built-in trellis. Further reduce maintenance by using a self-watering pot like the City Jungle Self-Watering tomato planter large enough to grow and support two indeterminate tomatoes.

Mount the containers on a wall, fence, or stack and install them vertically to increase growing space. Systems like the Vigoroot 4-Tiered Balcony Garden provide plenty of planting space in just a few square feet.

Include trellises and trees in raised beds and raised gardens to maximize growing space. Trellises train the vines upward while arches allow you to grow two layers of plants, one above the trellis and one below.

Dress up an exposed wall or fence, cover up a bad view or create privacy with a trellis covered with plants. Leave space between the wall and the trellis when gardening next to the building. This space allows air to flow between the building and the plants, reducing the risk of wall mold and plant disease.

Rapid cover annual vines and perennial vines grow for years of beauty. Mix the two to quickly cover the trellis with the annual vine while waiting for the perennial to establish itself and reach its mature size. Plant two vines with different flowering times on one trellis to expand the display of colorful flowers. Or look for those that bloom at the same time to double the floral effect.

Use decorative props to add beauty or a focal point all year round. Choose a style—rustic, formal, or colorful—that complements your garden design, furnishings, and personality. Make sure whatever you choose is strong enough to support the plants you’re growing.

Hide rain barrels, compost bins, and other functional areas in the landscape with a wall of plants. Leave room for easy access while filling your compost bin or harvesting finished compost and rainwater.

Decorate a lamp or mailbox post with a chrome-covered bracket. Create your own trellis from chicken wire or purchase a curved trellis such as Bosmere Trellis ( suitable for this application.

Use trellises and trees to brighten often overlooked spaces. A vine-covered tree provides a gentle floral welcome at the entrance to the walkway or a colorful transition between garden areas. Make sure the opening is large enough to accommodate visitors and any required equipment.

No matter your style and location, vertical gardens can help you increase the growing space and beauty of your garden.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 books on gardening, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts the amazing How to Grow Anything from the DVD series and Melinda Garden Moment TV and Radio Show. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener Supply for her expertise in writing this article. Her website is

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