If you’ve gardened in long, horizontal beds for even a single growing season, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “There has to be a better way.” Well, you’re right—there is a better way. Vertical gardening offers many advantages over horizontal growing.
Smaller beds to prepare and maintain. When growing plants with a vertical habit, you’ll need a bed only as large as the root systems of those plants—one that’s much smaller than a traditional bed. When you plant horizontally, you tend to have narrow rows of plants and wide swaths of soil between them. It’s those wide swaths that drink up much of the water, send up innumerable weeds, and consume the nutrients needed by your plants. With vertical gardening, you prepare only small spots or strips of fertile soil—just enough to give plants a nutritious base from which to climb up supports. These vertical garden beds require less compost, fertilizer, and water, and only a few bucketfuls of mulch or a little black plastic to control weeds. Compost goes further when you cut back on bed space, so you won’t need to buy, generate, or use as much compost in order to amend your soil each season. And whether you plan to water with a watering can or use a drip irrigation system, you’ll find that watering your small plots of soil is a cinch, and your drip hose can be short.
Vertical pots and containers for very small spaces. If you don’t have any (or much) garden space—say, just a concrete patio or a balcony—or if you can’t easily amend your soil or build a raised bed, then consider using tower pots or other containers that help you grow upward in a column. Tower pots are commercial containers that stack one on top of the other and enable you to grow vertically a variety of plants that don’t vine (such as lettuce, peppers, and strawberries). Plus, you can easily add trellises and supports within containers or “planted” just behind containers to create a vertical garden in a limited space. And if you need to be really creative with garden space, try mounting containers at various heights on a fence or wall to create a visual vertical garden.
Fewer pests, diseases, and problems to handle. When you begin to garden vertically, you’ll notice a big difference in the health of your plants. Lift flowering and fruiting vines and crops off the ground, and pests and diseases are not as destructive. Ripening fruit and vegetables remain clean, show fewer deformities, are less susceptible to rot, and don’t require tedious washing to remove garden soil. With plants up off the ground, you’ll easily spot any potential insect infestations before they have a chance to reach plague proportions. Simply blasting the bugs off the vines with a strong jet of water and rubbing stems with a cloth to destroy dormant insect eggs are often all that’s needed to avoid problems.