Ace of Space: Planting a DIY Vertical Garden


If you live in a tiny apartment, chances are you don't have a porch or a huge backyard to grow a garden. Last year, I discovered the concept of vertical gardening and Patrick Blanc's concept of design and space. Vertical gardens are commonly referred to as living walls. When these living walls are used effectively they can make gardening in small spaces a reality.

Even if you live in the heart of a big city, it is possible to design a small vertical garden to meet your needs. For instance, last year Smith & Hawken introduced new vertical gardening products and though the company has since ceased operations, Target now carries the brand and hopefully this gardening gadget will be reintroduced. Plant walls are another option for indoor gardening. And Woolly Pockets, if the idea of vertical gardening appeals to you, are a product you must check out.

But there are ways to create this effect at less cost....

In these tough economic times, spending extra money on gardening supplies might not be a feasible. (I mean, who wouldn't want the 400-plant vertical garden recently featured in the New York Times). In this circumstance I would encourage a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Here is what you'll need:

  • A Frame and Backboard. The frame is an essential component of your vertical garden and supports the plants. Metal or treated wood frames are two options to consider. Then you'll need to attach a backboard to the frame. Consider sourcing components from scrapyards, rebuilding centers and tool libraries. Examples of frames and backboards include, old doors or plywood sheets.
  • A Holding Sheet. The site Gardening Tips and Ideas indicates a "thick sheet of felt will give the best results." You can find felt at discount craft stores or even use old woolen military-surplus blankets instead of felt. Using felt or wool will absorb excess water from the plants and give them room to breath.

Here's how Gardening Tips and Ideas describes indoor vertical gardening applications: "You can make a well at the bottom with a continuous feed pump moving the water back up and then filtering down through the plants via gravity. The water is usually filled and refilled with nutrients that sustains the plants."

The water well catch is placed at the bottom of your living wall. If you decide to put your garden outside, you don't need a bottom well. Hand watering the plants will work.

If you're not ready for vertical gardening or window farming, join a community garden or ask a neighbor lucky enough to have a yard to share a little soil space.

Below are resources to get you started:


And don't forget to water your plants!

Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.

The Ace of Space is a bi-weekly column that will provide you with the tips and tools to live lightly and creatively in a small space.

Note: Image from Woolly Pockets
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