How to build vertical gardens

A healthy garden is an important aspect of a home. How can you build a vertical garden and why should you?

Vertical gardening allows you to grow more plants without taking up more space. Vertical gardens and living walls make smart use of otherwise bare or unused outdoor spaces. They also enable you to grow and enjoy plants in all types of environments and locations.

For many years, living plant tapestries have been popular adornments on public walls and buildings. However, vine-covered trellises, shrubs, or closely planted trees in borders, and walls decorated with traditional and repurposed containers are equally suited to smaller residential applications.


Living walls establish boundaries within a landscape. They offer privacy and screen undesirable views, such as your neighbour’s carport.

Vertical gardens:

  • Take up little space, so they are ideal for small courtyards, patios, or balconies.
  • Provide instant privacy and can disguise ugly walls or block unsightly views.
  • Allow people to garden in small spaces that would otherwise be devoid of greenery.
  • Allow you to grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit in small urban spaces.
  • Can provide a focal point or boundary in the garden.
  • Are accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Are environment-friendly. Vertical planters and wall systems are often made of recycled or repurposed materials.
  • Herbs and vegetables are easier to harvest in a vertical garden than if they are on the ground.

Get started

To get started at home, try out wall container systems in which plants are fitted in crevices or planted in containers that allow them to grow vertically and cover all or part of a wall.

  • Trailing plants, such as groundcovers and creepers can be planted near the top and allowed to trail down as they grow. You can alternatively plant them at the bottom, and fasten the tendrils to a trellis or net to train them upwards.
  • Succulents are generally drought tolerant and don’t require regular water. Their rich colours, textures, and unusual shapes create interesting wall art and tapestries.
  • Exterior walls without windows can be made more interesting with the addition of a vertical wall planter. Make sure the planter is securely fastened to the wall and has a flat back.
  • Recycle or repurpose commonly used products such as plastic cooldrink bottles as planters in vertical gardens. Securely fasten the planters onto a wooden frame or other overhead or vertical structure using wire or fishing line.
  • For a vertical vegetable and herb garden tie two bamboo poles together to form an A-frame. Stretch garden netting across the frame to provide support for beans, tomatoes, and other plants.

For a wall vase or pot, use the landscape architect’s container rule of ‘thrillers, fillers, and spillers.’

  • Thrillers are taller, visually striking plants that go in the centre or towards the back of a container. They are eye-catching from all angles.
  • Fillers are more rounded plants, filling in the centre of the container. They make containers look fuller.
  • Spillers trail over the container edges. Plant them close to the sides so that they can reach up and spillover.

Universal appeal

Vertical gardens can be planted almost anywhere. From rooftop patios to courtyards, stairwells, tall concrete buildings, and urban homes, make walls come alive and burst with colour – covered with shrubs, vines, ground covers, succulents, grasses, and even trees.

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