Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


Shove and Rake Trellis

When walking through most suburban gardens I notice an alarming pattern; flatness. My eye is forced to stay firmly on the ground with no upward interest for the vertical. It feels like my eyeballs are in a straitjacket. No movement allowed and whatever you do, do not look up! Vertical gardening and upward placement of garden accessories allows your eye that rest and movement it needs while building more appealing interest for the garden visitor. Better yet, it enables you to save planting space and is suitable to an urban environment.

Want to learn how to build some upward interest? Below are three quick tips that will help inspire you to move-it-on-up in the garden.

Shawna Coronado's Vertical Side Garden

3 Quick Tips

Trellis Creativity – Trellis’s and vines are the easiest ways to grow your way up an unattractive wall. Have a tight budget? No problem. Try something beautifully unique like painting your old shovels and rakes and drilling them on to a fence (photo above). Plant beans, morning glories, or clematis and you have a gorgeous vertical solution.

Balcony Love – Do you have a balcony on your house? Why not attach the ground with the balcony by building upward interest? Below you see containers sitting on top of the balcony, small containers drilled into the bottom edge of the balcony, and several types of clematis climbing up the wall. Your eye is instantly lifted to new heights.

Hang It From A Tree – Trees are an active part of our garden and hanging a mass of matching garden accessories from one tree creates a focal point in the garden. In the bottom photo you see the creative idea one gardener came up with – hanging a birdhouse collection all in the same tree. Most people walking by this urban display are captivated for long minutes and stop to enjoy the uppity view.

Vertical Whimsy In The Garden Birdhouse Tree

Want to take the vertical garden idea even farther? Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlinTry thinking outside the box and grow a vertical vegetable garden to help feed your family or community. A great book to reference is Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin. It teaches you how to discover the benefits of growing your fruit and vegetables up instead of out in order to save space.

Think creatively and build your own garden focused on different views and vertical opportunities which saves planting space and adds interest and whimsy to your garden plan.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received the book in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing it.

Wall of Coleus

Every year I am faced with the oh-so-dramatic container flower decisions. I like to call it the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational. Much like I did as a teenager while trying to get up enough courage to jump off the high-dive; I will stand for hours at my local garden center with a look ofLantana and Beets in Garden terror on my face as I try to decide which plant is the perfect one to combine with the others. Inevitably it’s an impossible decision: What child are you going to plant? Who’s going to walk the plank? Which plant is going to be the best mixer at the container party?

In the end, my choices always come down to two determining questions:

1. Which plant is the easiest to care for?

2. What color combinations am I going with this year?

When I think of easy annuals to grow there are two spectacularly colorful plants that make my top-of-the-top favorite plant list: coleus and lantana. Each make an amazing splash in the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational in either the sun or shade category. These plants are fantastic mixers and can function as a either a feature plant or a blender plant in an urban container, planting bed, or vertical wall garden. Both types of plants have multiple varieties and plenty of color selections for the casual gardener at your local garden center.

To the right you see Luscious Berry Blend Lantana rocking the socks off my full sun vegetable garden as a border plant. Lantana is a great sunny spot solution and is perfect for attracting butterflies. Below is a photo of the lantana layered in a gorgeous pink and green container display with multiple annuals.

 Lantana in Plant Container Design

Have a shady spot? There is nothing better than a coleus to brighten up a dark corner. At the top of this page is a magnificent vertical wall garden done up with Emotions Inspired Coleus and impatiens. Lantana mixes well with leafy vegetables in a mixed vegetable container as well as annual flowers. Below is an equally bold display of mixed variety coleus, impatiens, and sweet potato vine at a restaurant on an urban street.

Need a simple solution for your containers that will add a punch of color? Lantana and coleus are two great, easy-to-grow plants that mix well with most annuals in your container party.

Coleus and Impatiens in Shade

Vertical Gutter Garden with Asparagus Fern

Big, blank, shady walls are bullies in my garden. Limited by no sun, dry conditions, and poor soil, my shady walls ogle my garden tools threateningly and push me around with that intimidating attitude all bullies have. I spend hours staring at an empty wall trying to come to terms with a sustainable solution that might work. Without a doubt, you have the same mean wall-bully hiding in your garden that hides in mine.

There’s only one way to fix a perplexing shady wall. In dealing with a wall-bully, one must cover it with a creative solution. A quick answer to that problem is to paint the wall, add several trellis’s all along the area, then plant a non-invasive shade climber at the base of a trellis, so the wall becomes less threatening and more appealing.

How To Say No To Bullies

My favorite wall-bully solution, however, is to recycle old rain gutters into a vertical wall of garden. Find both new and old gutters and downspouts online, at home salvage warehouses, or at your local hardware store. Screw the rain gutters into the wall. Be sure to screw into supports and joists whenever possible to give the wall garden extra support.

While you could hang the old gutters on a wall and place the soil and plants directly in the gutters, I adore the idea of using a repetitive color pattern as a bright pop on the wall. Here you see rows of preplanted Asparagus Fern sitting in bold orange containers within the gutters. Each container has its special spot on the recycled gutters that stretch nearly ten feet high up a tall shade-filled wall. If one of the plants dies, it is easy to replace the plant by simply adding another container, thereby making this technique an easy-to-manage solution.

Do not let shady wall-bullies push you around; get out there and discover a creative, sustainable, solution like recycled gutters to make that difficult wall into your best friend.

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