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Easy Vertical Gardening Ideas for Beginners

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Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Vertical gardens are beautiful, and they save space!

Vertical gardens are beautiful, and they save space!

Benefits of Growing a Vertical Garden

If you live in urban areas where there isn't much space to work with, you can still grow your favorite vegetables in a vertical garden. You can easily create one using hanging baskets, shelves, and a trellis, as well as a bit of your imagination.

You can design a functional vertical system or a more architectural look for your garden. It's entirely up to you. Be inspired and don't be afraid to try different things!

Benefits of growing a vertical garden using a trellis:

  • Save space. You can produce more vegetables with less space.
  • It's easy to grow. Keeping the vegetables off the ground will prevent insects and other pests from crawling into your plants. It also reduces the risk of plant disease.
  • Easy to harvest. You don't have to bend down to care for and maintain your vegetables. Since the plants are at eye level, you can easily harvest the vegetables.
  • It looks nice! Vertical gardens can create a whole different dimension to your landscape.
  • Provide shade for other plants. You can grow other vegetables or herbs beneath the trellis.
  • Hides unattractive parts of your garden. I have a crack in my wall so I decided to cover it up with a green beans plant.
  • Better air circulation.

Vertical Garden Ideas

With a little planning and a vision, you can grow a vegetable vertical garden anywhere, even with limited horizontal space.

A vertical garden could also be referred to as a "green wall," ranging from the basic simple backyard designs to the more recently innovative hydroponics technology.

In this article, we will focus on the basic design for a beginners gardener. You can be creative and utilize many different props to support your garden.

  • The basic trellis can be used as a support system for trailing or vine crops. If you place a trellis against the wall, make sure there is space between the wall and the trellis to allow air circulation and also for the vines to grow.
  • Rigid livestock panels do double duty as a fence and support for tomatoes, plus they can be bent to create an arched entry.
  • Saplings or bamboo poles are easy to use for pole beans. The upside to using bamboo tipis is that they give you more flexibility with what you want to plant. These are considered temporary trellises, and they need to be taken down and stored during the winter months to prevent from rotting.
  • Using sturdy poles is another way to take advantage of vertical space while making a support system for green beans and other vegetables that love to climb.
  • You can also tie thick biodegradable ropes to train the vines to climb wherever you want them to. Tendrils from green beans cling to horizontal and vertical parts of a trellis. You build it and it will come. By using biodegradable materials, you can cut down the trellis and pull out the plants at the same time, then throw it all on the compost pile.

In my vertical garden, most of the plants are grown using trellises and wire cages. For example, my dad and I built a trellis to serve as a "roof" of an area. I wanted the vines and leaves of my gourd plants to crawl on top so the actual fruits could hang down vertically, creating a beautiful sight. Originally it was meant for the grapes vine. However, the first year, my grapes didn't produce so we planted the gourd plant instead. The next summer, I figured out how to grow grapes, so we provided another trellis for the opposite side of the garden.

How to Build a Garden Trellis

It's very easy to build your own trellis or frame. However, if you don't have the time or just don't feel like doing it yourself, you can buy them at stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's.

If you have vegetables such as gourd or fruits with vines like grapes, you can build a simple "trellis roof." This project is really easy to do.

  1. You're going to need four strong wooden poles that will become its foundation, holding up the roof. The rectangular sticks will need to be strong enough to support the roof trellis and the plants.
  2. Cut the wooden poles into thinner poles. Since we had a fairly small amount of space, we cut about 25 of them.
  3. Next, you're going to need a hammer and some strong 2 inch nails to secure the poles. And voila! You have built yourself a trellis!

The reason why you want multiple thinner poles instead of one large slab of wooden material is to allow the vines to weave themselves through freely, and for the gourd to hang down.

Also, if you want to grow other vegetables underneath, it allows the sunlight to shine through. There are jalapenos, eggplants, a lot of herbs underneath mine! Now this is what it really means to grow a lot of produce without using excessive space! The shade created by the trellis and vines can benefit the other plants growing underneath.

Tomatoes Prefer to Grow Vertically on Cages

Tomatoes like to throw themselves over their support. They must be trained and tied to an upright trellis, which isn’t as easy as growing them in wire cages. The larger, more robust the tomato plant, the more you need a sturdy tomato cage that provides support on all sides.

Woven-wire tomato cages contain their exuberance reasonably well, and make the ripe fruits easier to find.

Even the best tomato cages become top-heavy when the plants are in full fruit, so they should be well-anchored to deeply set stakes.

Among ready-made cages, three-ring welded cages are adequate only for early determinate varieties. The four- and five-ring models can handle varieties of modest to average size and vigor, but most tomatoes will spew out the top and sides, and then start leaning toward the sun.

Green beans are perfect for vertical garden because they love to climb!

Green beans are perfect for vertical garden because they love to climb!

To me, hanging gourds are like eye candy in a garden. I love the way they hang from the above "roof trellis" with their massive leaves and vines entangled from the top.

To me, hanging gourds are like eye candy in a garden. I love the way they hang from the above "roof trellis" with their massive leaves and vines entangled from the top.

A young passion fruit plant that is secured by bamboo poles and strings. I plan on having them grow along the white trellis that I've placed against the walls.

A young passion fruit plant that is secured by bamboo poles and strings. I plan on having them grow along the white trellis that I've placed against the walls.

Vegetables That Grow Well in Vertical Gardens

If you're a beginner gardener, you can create an edible garden by growing basic vegetables. Some vegetables grow better vertically, such as the ones recommended below.

  • Green beans. There are different varieties including green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. They all require a surface to climb. As they grow, the vines have small thin structures (tendrils) that grab on to anything as they climb. These types of vegetables are lighter in weight so they would work with a simple trellis or even rope system.
  • Tomatoes. Tomatoes can also be grown vertically, using a wire cage or trellis. The cage works best with tomatoes. Just insert a circular cage wire deep into the soiled ground surrounding your tomato plant. The benefit of using a cage wire over trellis is that you don't have to tie it with ropes.
  • Cucumbers. All cucumber varieties, including lemon cucumbers, love to grow on vines. They also grow very fast! If you have a small space for your garden, I recommend growing lemon cucumbers. They grow fast but the product is not as big as regular cucumbers. As they grow, train the vines by gently weaving the vines in between the vertical surfaces. You can also tie it in certain places to help it grow and stay secure. Smaller cucumbers also branch out more.
  • Vine squash are heavier, so you're going to have to make a "sling" to hold the fruit. If you choose to grow these types of vegetables, you're going to have to support the heavy fruits so they don't break the vines. Simply tie an old t-shirt or any material that stretches to the trellis.

This year I am experimenting with passion fruit vines. After seeing them grow and flourish in my neighbor's garden, with their exotic purple flowers and healthy edible fruits, I knew I had to have one in my garden.

Vertical Garden Produce

Considerations for Vertical Gardens

  • Water. Plants that are grown vertically are more prone to wind, sun and air. They can dry out more quickly. It is critical to water regularly and check the soil for proper moisture level. You can install an automatic drip irrigation system, which you can get as a package. You're going to laugh but during the first year of my gardening experiment, I used to water everything by hand. It may sound time-consuming but it was a therapeutic process. For all you farmers out there, you know what I mean! However, I became so busy with other projects that I simply don't have the time anymore, so we built an automatic drip irrigation system.
  • Location. Keep in mind that most vegetables require at least four hours of sunlight. Choosing a wall location that faces the south will provide them with plenty of light. Use google maps. Try not to build your trellis near a large tree that will shade your vegetables from the sunlight.
  • Choosing your vegetables. The rule of thumb is to choose the vegetables that you and your family enjoy eating. It will be more fun and rewarding for you to care for plants that will yield foods that you will eat.

More Ideas on Vertical Gardening

Let's Get Started on Your Vertical Vegetable Garden!

I hope that this article has inspired you to perhaps start growing a vegetable vertical garden. You can make the most of your garden space by growing delicious vegetables and fruits up on a trellis, in a pot surrounded by wire cages, and over garden structures, while enjoying the benefits of easier maintenance, healthier plants, effortless harvesting, and higher yields.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments: Which vegetable will you grow in your vertical garden? Share some ideas!

Malditong Bata on October 06, 2018:

thanks for sharing this, i now have an idea on what to do with the 3ft tree stump near our dirty kitchen. i find this very useful, thank u very much

Al from Australia, Hong Kong, USA on March 25, 2016:

Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

Kim Lam (author) from California on April 28, 2014:

Hi MzLizzy,

I have a new back yard this year so I'm actually trying to do a horizontal trellis, similar to a tee pee no more tomato cages. I also share the same sentiment about the gophers-they are horrible! They destroyed everything one year and we had to lay mesh wires on the ground. And I also skipped the seeds and just bought plants to. (too impatient)

Good luck with your garden this year! Thanks for sharing. :-)

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 25, 2014:

I just planted my veggies in large plan tpots this year, because 1) we have had a massive over-gowth of weeds in our former vegetable garden area, and I don't have the physical stamina to deal with it this year, and 2) we've had an invasion of gophers into that area that we never had before.

Gophers have been a fact of life all over the rest of the yard ever since we bought the place, hence the plant pots this year.

I put tomato cages, and drilled the sides of the pots, and tied the cages to the pots with zip-ties. The plants won't be able to pull the cages over, like they did one year in our soft, sandy soil. We had like 7 stakes driven in to tie up the cages that year!

I wanted to use some of your other ideas, but there was not any budget for that. We barely managed to afford the set-plants and the potting soil.

(Yes, it's cheaper to start from seed, but I have nowhere indoors that I can start seeds...cats, you know... plus, the way our house is oriented, we have no sunny windows.)

Kim Lam (author) from California on April 25, 2014:

Awesome! So glad you're adding herbs and vegetables to your garden.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on April 23, 2014:

Thank you for the DIY ideas. Been looking for such hubs. We used to grow grapes earlier in our backyard. Now, I am looking to grow some vegetables and herbs. We already have few herbs and some varieties of chillies.

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 11, 2012:

Great minds think alike! Thanks for stopping by! ;-)

DragonBallSuper on June 11, 2012:

hi turtlewoman, i also use vertical trellis for crawling vegetable plants. you have very good ideas here.

great hub! voted up!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 10, 2012:

Hi turtlewoman. I'm still sad at the decision. :(

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 10, 2012:

Hi toomuchmint- My grapes are finally yielding fruits this year too. You should consider building that roof trellis, similar to the one in the picture. Put a bench underneath, relax with a glass of Pinot and enjoy the shade. :-)

Thanks for visiting!

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 10, 2012:

Hi Jp- garden tomatoes are simply the best. :-) Btw, did you watch the PAC fight last night? What a disappointment!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 10, 2012:

I grow my own tomatoes and they do love climbing. And yes, they do hide ugly spots of the garden. :)

toomuchmint on June 05, 2012:

This is such a great idea! My grape vines are out of control. I was thinking about trellising them, but worried they would create too much shade in my backyard. I never considered growing complimentary plants that will twine up and over the trellis.

The hanging gourd photo is eye-catching and demonstrates how effective a trellis can be.

Thanks for the information!

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 04, 2012:

Thanks for your vote, TToombs08!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 04, 2012:

I absolutely LOVE this idea. It makes great use of small spaces. Voted up and more.

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 02, 2012:

Wow Peggy, 6ft tall tomato vines? You've done a great job with them! Fresh tomatoes from the garden are such a special treat. I started mine late this year so they're still green and taking their time to ripe. Thank you so much for voting and sharing. :-)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2012:

What a great hub about vertical gardening! I have the wire cages for my tomatoes and extra poles anchoring them as they are now over 6 feet tall. I am tying them as they keep growing up to each other for support. Wish we had more sunlight in this yard but due to all of the large oak trees, our space is limited. I may give more thought to fixing up our small garden space with a trellis such as you have built. Voted useful, interesting, beautiful and SHARING! Happy gardening!!!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 01, 2012:

I'll definitely look into the lemon cucumbers. Sometimes I've brought back seeds from the States. Jalapenos didn't grow well here, but dill and chives thrived. Go figure!

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 01, 2012:'re in for a treat! Trellises are fun and easy to work with. I hope you try using them one day. And lemon cucumbers are so delicious, as well as aesthetically pleasing. I wonder if they are available in your country?

Thank you for visiting. :-)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 01, 2012:

The idea of a vertical garden is fascinating to me! I've used cages for tomatoes but never thought to use ropes or trellises for other vegetables. Thank you for the "how to" for building a trellis and the tip for growing lemon cucumbers. It's the first I've heard of them!

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 01, 2012:

Samantha- thanks for visiting. I'm glad you were able to pick up some tips from my article!

Thanks Robie! :-)

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 01, 2012:

Eliza, you can grow the veggies up a wall by placing a trellis against the wall. Similar to my first image, I placed the trellis firmly in the soiled ground. If you don't have soil on the ground set up, you can also place a large pot of soil next to the wall. And be sure to leave some space between the wall and trellis for air circulation.

Robie Benve from Ohio on June 01, 2012:

Great information and pictures! Voted up and useful. :)

Samantha Gold on June 01, 2012:

Awesome article. I have had a garden for a couple years and thought I knew a lot. This article had some great ideas/tips that I didn't even know. Happy Gardening.

Lisa McKnight from London on June 01, 2012:

Now what I want to know is - can you grow vegetables up the wall?

Kim Lam (author) from California on June 01, 2012:

Thanks RTalloni, good luck with your garden!

Debbie and Amanda, thanks for stopping by!

AmandaLynn319 from Southern Idaho, US on May 31, 2012:

Some great ideas and advice here. Thanks for a great hub!

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on May 31, 2012:

Thanks for all this useful information!

RTalloni on May 31, 2012:

You put a lot of work into this hub and I learned some new tips for my gardens--thanks! There are several reasons I am trying to raise many of my plants up off the ground. Trellis gardening is smart gardening!