Vertical Garden Ideas to Add More Planting to a Small Space

If you’re short on space, vertical garden ideas prove that you don’t need to be blessed with lots of square footage to create a haven you’ll be proud of.

“Vertical gardening is ideal for those with limited gardening space and large vine crops,” says Gail Pabst of the National Gardening Bureau. “Growing upwards, or vertically, can help you make the most of your gardening space by exploiting the potential of the vertical space above your garden plot or container gardens. Gardening in three dimensions increases the growing area available to you. It is also good for better disease control on climbing crops that need good air circulation.

From hanging pockets to living walls and hanging containers to using a trellis to train your plants to grow upwards – not outwards, these small garden ideas will have you thinking big. So whether you’re working with a balcony, a backyard or a small urban jungle, unlock your garden’s true potential with these expert-approved vertical garden ideas that add style and maximize your small space.

Maximize your space with these vertical garden ideas

1. Grow yours vertically

Tomatoes growing on a balcony

(Image credit: Getty)

Sustainable living is on the rise. Just look at the world around you and the top garden trends of 2022 to find out. So why not weave two trends into one and grow your own vegetables, vertically?

“Explore a variety of techniques to find what works for you,” Gail Pabst of National Garden Bureau said. “From cages to trellises to bamboo tent structures, there are many different systems to grow just about any crop you could imagine in the garden or containers.”

If you can sacrifice space, a bamboo teepee is a sustainable way to encourage your plants to grow tall. While a wooden trellis structure, like the one above, not only looks good, but it can be placed just about anywhere.

2. Create a living wall

a large living wall in a garden

(Image credit: Habitat Horticulture | Photographer Garry Belinsky)

Installing a living wall can be a super effective idea when looking to design a garden, so breathe some life into your outdoor space by taking your plants to new heights (literally) with these beautiful designs.

But in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, living walls can “contribute to a biophilic experience in indoor and outdoor spaces that offers people the opportunity to connect with nature,” David Brenner of Habitat Horticulture Explain. “It can improve your mental well-being, reduce stress, improve your mood, and even improve your cognitive performance, studies have shown.”

3. Get creative with your living wall foliage

a living wall with a seat installed in it

(Image credit: Plantbox. Design: A Greener London)

Speaking of living walls, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways to add appropriate design to your small space.

“The limiting factor is usually the light level, but also the cold and heat tolerance of the plants,” says David. “Most plants used in a vertical garden are herbaceous perennials, but sometimes small shrubs and even small trees depending on the design intent.”

Remember that, like most garden plants, there is some maintenance that needs to be done to keep upright plants thriving. So make sure you can easily access your design to keep your plants well watered and tended. Consider how the size of your garden can affect light levels and more. There are, generally, certain plants to avoid in a small garden that should be left out of a living wall.

4. Make your living wall a work of art

Turn your living wall into a work of art in this vertical gardening design

(Image credit: Amir Schlezinger | MyLandscapes)

Take your living wall design one step further by adding a sculptural element, as shown in this creative design by Amir Schlezinger from MyLandscapes.

Stretching over a 5 meter back wall, this green plant wall can be seen from all floors.

“We centered the design around the living wall,” says Amir. “We designed the previous garden for the same client in the same house. The size of the garden has recently been reduced to a depth of 3 meters as the clients have added an extension and a basement. A living wall was a space-saving solution.

“In turn, it is visible from the ground floor at eye level and from higher levels at a bird’s eye view. I planted plants that are suitable for shade as the space faces north, many are native plants: ferns, sedges, grasses and flowering perennials. The plants have an irrigation system. I added a tile pattern to create a sculptural element and visual interest. Next, I added LED strip garden lighting ideas behind the edges of the tiles to create a stunning nighttime effect.

5. Make good use of your pergola

Quiet and neutral house in the Hamptons

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

Plants can be hung just about anywhere. Just take this pergola as an example which has been covered with a blanket of greenery.

In itself, a pergola can be an attraction in itself. But as well as adding shade and style to your space, a pergola can also become the proud home of plants – especially climbing plants, including favorites such as honeysuckle and jasmine. ‘For a pergola, I’m an eternal fan of Trachelospermum jasminoides for its evergreen leaves and jasmine-scented flowers,” suggests a gardener Alexandra Noble.

You can also try adding hanging baskets to your structure to make the most of your outdoor oasis. So add some drama with that outdoor living space idea to give your pergola a green glow.

6. Go big on hanging baskets

a basket hung on the fence near the seats outside

(Image credit: elho)

Hanging baskets are one of the fastest – and most affordable – ways to incorporate more gardening space just about…anywhere.

But while they can be one of the simplest tools for making a vertical garden bloom, they can also inject some serious style into your space.

Choose flowers, an assortment of herbs or even use it as a small vegetable garden idea, using walls, fences, balcony railings or window sills.

7. Use a trellis

a trellis walkway through a narrow garden

(Image credit: Holly Lepere)

In addition to decorating your small outdoor space, a trellis can add privacy, structure, and become a natural way to zone your garden. Nowadays trellises come in a range of shapes and sizes.

A curved arch, like in this example above, can help you create a memorable entryway. Whereas in a compact urban garden, a typical rectangular-shaped trellis might work better. It can be placed on walls and fences, helping to soften boundaries and make a small garden seem bigger, while also transforming into another surface for your green shrubs to grow on.

8. Use raised beds to add height

modern garden ideas with steep landscape garden

(Image credit: future)

Want a space for entertaining as well as growing your own flowers? As seen with this thriving outdoor space, you can have the best of both worlds, even in small spaces.

So get creative with raised beds. They’ll work to keep the critters out, help with drainage, and even your back will thank you later.

This form of vertical gardening can also add an architectural touch to your space while making room for greenery. It’s a win-win solution, especially for sloping gardens that may require retaining walls, or for courtyard garden ideas that don’t have flower beds at ground level.

9. Pocket forest gardening

The IBC Pocket Forest designed by Sara Edwards

(Image credit: RHS/Tim Sandall)

Pocket gardening has had a 21st century twist. The design technique has been used by gardeners for years (and years) as a way to get creative with the small outdoor space you have.

It’s all about adding live plants to underutilized spaces – whether that’s on outside stairs, between cobblestones, or using pocket garden supports on your walls to maximize your garden’s growing space. . It’s the perfect idea to adopt for a space like a rooftop garden or on a balcony, where your planting options are limited.

If the square footage permits, you can reuse and recycle large plastic containers to create compact yet creative pocket beds, just like designer Sara Edwards did for her.Before Christ Pocket Forest Garden in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 2021. The sky really is the limit.

What plants grow well in a vertical garden?

“Choose cultivars and vine varieties rather than bush types,” says Gail Pabst of the National Garden Bureau. “While bush-type crops such as cucumbers are smaller, they actually take up more horizontal ground space.

“Growing a climbing variety allows you to grow it on a trellis, using less horizontal space.

“This is also true for tomatoes, although the effect is not as dramatic. The vertical cultivation of indeterminate tomatoes on trellises, wires, etc. can increase yield and use slightly less garden space than bushy determinate types.

Are vertical gardens difficult to maintain?

Like most gardens, vertical gardens need a little TLC. Along with taking care of your plants and watering them well, it’s important to think about the different types of plants you use to grow your vertical garden.

“There may be some extra labor to train the crop to grow vertically and you will often need more watering depending on what you are using for vertical growing, such as green walls, grow pockets , hanging containers and vertical hydroponic systems,” says Gail.

“Like any garden, there is a bit of maintenance needed to keep the plants thriving,” adds David Brenner of Habitat Horticulture. “It will depend on the types of plants used and how difficult it is to access them. This can be especially difficult when it comes to gravity!

“My team specializes in working at height using ladders, scissor lifts and swing floors that you typically see window cleaners use to clean the facades of skyscrapers. This all adds up to time and long-term costs, which some might call an inconvenience.