How To Create Your Own Vertical Garden And Connect With Nature

refreshing look of a vertical garden inside the house

In 1988, a French botanist named Patrick Blanc decided to see if he could grow plants with no soil. His experiment became the first-ever vertical garden… and decades later turned into one of the hottest new gardening trends. Wondering how to create your own vertical garden?

The vertical garden has rapidly become one of the most popular ways to bring plants into a household — even if you live in a tiny apartment in the city. All you need to create a vertical garden is a wall and a dash of DIY creativity. And here’s the best part: You don’t have to rebuild the wheel (or the green wall). We can teach you how to create your own vertical garden. Get your green thumbs ready and keep reading!

What Is a Vertical Garden?

People have been growing domestic plants for at least 10,000 years. Today, one out of every ten Americans has done gardening in the past year.

man enjoys taking care of the plants on his garden

Via Giphy.com

But if everyone knew how to grow a garden on their wall, how much might that number grow? We think a lot, here’s why: When you learn how to create your own vertical garden, you’ll discover you can grow plants nearly anywhere. Vertical gardening lets you build a green wall inside or outside your home, using an upright structure to hold your plants.

But it’s not just for inside your house: Outdoor vertical gardens maximize your garden space by using the side of your home, garage, or any other structure as a place for growth. Indoor vertical gardens can beautify your space, hide an ugly wall, and position you in the growing trend of chic urban gardening.

If you don’t have a wall available for plants, you can even build a stand-alone plant wall for indoor or outdoor growing. Once you know how to create your own vertical garden the sky’s the limit! You can grow plants for decoration, food, and any other purpose you can dream up.

Are you already imagining what your home will look like once you learn how to create your own vertical garden?

It gets even better: your garden comes with benefits for your mental and physical health.

The Health Benefits of Living with Plants

known as the, once said, 

John Muir as the father of the National Parks

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir  //  Founder of America’s National Parks

But if you don’t live near a forest wilderness, maybe you can bring the wilderness to you. Research backs up the idea that plants are good for our health, even if we’re not encountering them in the wild. A 2015 study suggests that interacting with indoor plants helps reduce both the physical and mental symptoms of stress. Many other studies over the years have shown similar benefits from keeping plants around. Working with or near plants appears to help people relax, stay more focused, feel fewer symptoms of stress and fatigue, and generally enjoy a higher quality of life.

The American Psychological Association confirms that decades of research point to the benefits of working and living around plants. Some psychologists have turned their attention to the study of “restorative environments,” which incorporate nature into design to create healthier situations for us all. Although people react differently to natural elements, many studies suggest that they have overall benefits.

Here’s the kicker: the positive effects of plants also go beyond the brain and into the body. If you remember your grade-school science classes, you probably remember that plants give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. But it gets even better: certain plants can also absorb pollutants from the air. Scientists don’t completely understand how this works, although some plants appear to use a symbiotic relationship with fungi that helps them take in toxins.

So, in essence: Learning how to create your own vertical garden means you’re actually improving the quality of the air you breathe.

Supplies You’ll Need to Create a Vertical Garden

By now, you might be wondering: How do I get those benefits for myself? Once you know how to create your own vertical garden, you’ll be on the fast track to a restorative green environment. First, you’ll need to gather your supplies. This list will be somewhat flexible depending on the type of vertical garden you ultimately want to have. But with these basic items, you’re well on your way to creating your own green oasis.

cat playfully help in cultivating the garden soil

Via Giphy.com

Frame

If you want to simplify these steps you can start with a vertical garden kit that has ready-made planters. All you need to do is hang them up and you’ll be good to go. However, if you’re more DIY-minded (or on a budget — more on that later), you can build the apparatus yourself. You’ll probably want to pick the final destination for your garden before you start this step, or at least have an idea of where you’ll want to put it. That way, you can build a frame that’s the right size, and sturdy enough to hold up to the elements if you place it outside.

Something to consider:

You can build your frame out of a variety of materials. Some people use metal mesh or grids. Others construct theirs with PVC pipes, using four-way joints and elbows to create the grid pattern. The PVC pipe option is a bit more labor-intensive, but it works well if you have a hard-to-fit area and you need a custom shape. Keep in mind though: While some pretty vertical gardens use wood, it’s best to avoid wood unless you can get it pressure-treated to avoid rot.

Plastic sheeting

Next, you’ll need plastic sheeting, which protects the wall from getting wet. The plastic should be a little longer, and about as wide, as the frame.

Fabric

You’ll need two pieces of fabric that are also the same width and a little longer than your frame. Here’s the secret to choosing good fabric: It doesn’t really matter what kind of fabric you choose, as long as it can soak up water without starting to rot. Try landscaping fabric, jute cloth, or felt carpet padding.

Irrigation materials

Knowing how to create your own vertical garden does no good if you don’t have a way to water the plants. Some people simply water their plants by hand each day… But you’ll get better results if you actually construct an irrigation system. Look for an irrigation supplier, and buy a poly tubing set-up that will go above the garden, dripping water into the fabric so your plants always have moisture. Add a propagation timer to keep your plant’s water on a regular schedule.

Don’t forget: The water will need a place to go once it reaches the bottom of the wall. You can build a system that feeds the water back up to the top, but that can get complicated. A drainage system at the base of the wall (or a small horizontal garden below the wall if it’s outside) works nicely.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing your vertical wall might sound like a dirty job, but it isn’t. In fact, you can easily set up a fertilizer injector system that attaches to the irrigation system for a seamless design. What you need to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to shop for a fertilizer injector system that will fit your green wall frame.
  • If your frame is small and light and the injector is heavy, it could pull the whole thing off the wall.
  • Choose an injector system that comes with an irrigation valve, so you can connect it with the irrigation system.

Although you could try fertilizing by hand, with this system, keeping your vertical garden thriving will be a breeze.

Plants

Finally, your vertical garden will need plants to populate it! You’re probably wondering how to choose them. Consider the conditions before you choose your plants. Will they get lots of sun or shade? Will it be hot or cold? Make sure to choose plants that will thrive in those conditions. We’ve also got more ideas to help you choose the right plants below

Easy Step-by-Step Vertical Garden Guide

Now that you have all the supplies, you’re ready to learn how to create your own vertical garden. It’s easier than you think! Just follow these steps, and then keep reading for our favorite garden design tips.

Erect the frame

Make sure to build the entire frame before you try to hang it on the wall. This will make hanging it easier, as well as taking it down if you need to later. Now, check this out: Consider using hooks to hang the frame for easier removal. Why? You might want to move your garden if you remodel, or simply decide to try it on a different wall.

If you’ve attached the frame directly to the wall, you could have to take it all the way apart before you can move it. Also, check that any hardware you use to hang the frame is rust-proof, since it may get wet.

Attach sheeting and fabric

You already have your sheeting and fabric, but you’ll need to decide what you’ll use to attach it to the frame. You can use staples, screws, or anything else to keep it tightly attached. Again, make sure your hardware is rust-proof. Here’s how: The plastic goes on the frame first. It will protect the frame and the wall behind it from getting wet (although it’s best if both frame and wall are waterproof, just in case). Next, the two pieces of fabric go over the plastic sheeting, one on top of the other. You need two pieces to soak up enough water to keep your plants hydrated. Make sure the fabric is also secured tightly to the frame.  

Build an irrigation and fertilizer system

Now, you can construct your irrigation and fertilizer system. In our experience: It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for setup. You’ll put together the poly tubing and fittings for the irrigation system, and attach the propagation timer and fertilizer injector. Place each water emitter along the top of the irrigation tube about two or three inches apart. This ensures that every plant gets the water and fertilizer it needs. Keep in mind: You might need to adjust the settings of the timer later to make sure you’re not over- or under-watering.

Add plants

Now comes the most exciting part of learning how to create your own vertical garden…

…installing the green in your green wall! Some pre-made “green walls” come with little planters where you’ll place each individual plant. But if you’re using our DIY set-up, you’ll actually install the plants directly on the wall. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to cut through the top layer of fabric horizontally. The cut needs to be wide enough for the root ball to fit through. This is important: Try to remove as much soil from the root ball as you can first — otherwise, the plant could rot. Place the roots inside the cut in the fabric, and staple the cloth in place with a staple gun. Use stainless-steel staples so they don’t rust. Make sure the fabric is secure enough to keep the plant on the wall.

man created a hanging plant using magnets

Via Giphy.com

Maintain and grow

Now, you get to maintain your plant wall and keep it thriving. Make adjustments to the water and fertilizer amounts and timings as needed.

You’ll get your best results if you plant plants that love shade and lots of water near the bottom. Also remember that since your plants are hanging vertically, they’ll droop toward the ground as they grow. You’ll need to trim some of them regularly so they aren’t blocking the plants underneath from thriving.

What happens if some of your plants die? Don’t stress! That’s a normal part of learning how to create your own vertical garden. Buy a few extra plants so you can easily replace the ones that don’t make it. Vertical gardens with lots of empty spaces don’t look as nice as ones that form a solid wall of green.

question

Remember

the conditions at the bottom of the wall will be different from those at the top.

Your Garden, Your Interior Decorating

Textile designer William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” A vertical garden can be both, bringing beauty and a host of health benefits into your home. You know how to create your own vertical garden by now. But how can you seamlessly incorporate a vertical garden into your home design? Here are some ideas to get you inspired.

Room divider

Whether your home is large or small, learning how to create your own vertical garden allows you to build a beautiful room divider. This tactic works just as well in a studio apartment as it does in a huge open-plan living room.

Here’s the scoop: If you want to use your vertical garden as a divider, you’ll need to build a standalone wall. Even better if you put it on wheels so it’s mobile. While this is a little more labor intensive than hanging your garden on an existing wall, you’ll love the portable results.

Mini green wall

The beauty of knowing how to create your own vertical garden is that you’re not limited by size. Not at all, here’s why: Maybe most of your wall space already serves a purpose, or your apartment is simply tiny. All you need is a few square feet of space to install a mini green wall. You’ll follow the same steps, but on a smaller scale, using the tiniest irrigation setup and adorable little plants.

Kitchen herb garden

Not sure you want to commit to the statement of a green wall in your living room or entranceway? Then this is for you: A kitchen herb garden offers a logical way to dip your toe in this trend. Just build your vertical garden in whatever size you want and install it in your kitchen. You’ll love having a selection of fresh herbs and edible plants at your fingertips. You might even be able to extend your kitchen plumbing to create a simple drainage system for your herb wall.

Kitchen herb garden

Not sure you want to commit to the statement of a green wall in your living room or entranceway? Then this is for you: A kitchen herb garden offers a logical way to dip your toe in this trend. Just build your vertical garden in whatever size you want and install it in your kitchen. You’ll love having a selection of fresh herbs and edible plants at your fingertips. You might even be able to extend your kitchen plumbing to create a simple drainage system for your herb wall.

Statement Wall

question

Remember

Vertical gardens don’t need to live inside the house.

You can also build a statement wall outside to boost your home’s curb appeal and make passersby take a second look. In fact, outdoor vertical gardens take some of the maintenance burden off your shoulders. You can reap the benefits of natural light and rainfall to keep your garden thriving. Plus, looking at your own living wall will make coming home after a long day feel that much better.

On a Budget? We Get it!

Like aggressive minimalism and smart-home tech, it’s often easy to lump vertical gardens in with the home trends of the wealthy. They’re undeniably beautiful and cool, but are they really accessible for everyone? Don’t worry: We wouldn’t teach you how to create your own vertical garden, only to tell you that you can’t afford one. You might not be able to get a smart-lock or a certified KonMari consultant, but we promise a vertical garden is within your reach. These budget tips will help.

creating a vertical garden on a budget

Via Giphy.com

Repurpose or buy secondhand

The materials you use to build your green wall are entirely up to you, as long as they’re waterproof and sturdy. This creates a great opportunity to repurpose materials or buy them used. The chances of finding a pre-built vertical garden apparatus at your local thrift store are slim (though not impossible). However, you may very well be able to find a scrap of stainless steel mesh or some discarded PVC pipes to use.

Even better: you might already have some useful materials lying around your own home. Don’t neglect the power of social media, either. Post a call for what you need to your friends, or join some online gardening groups and see what people in your area are looking to get rid of. This is a great way to get basic gardening materials like pruning shears, as well as vertical garden supplies.

Grow plants from seeds

Growing plants from seeds presents a challenge, but if you have gardening experience, this is a great way to save some green while building your green wall. Seeds cost just a fraction of the price that whole plants do. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing the first sprouts pop up! If you don’t really have the budget to buy all the seeds you want, you can also try a seed-swap with your gardening friends. Chances are, they have too many seeds of one plant, and are willing to trade a few to add variety to their collections.

Grow what you’ll actually use

Do you use lots of herbs in the kitchen, or do you plow through kale like mad? This is crazy:  you can actually save money by growing those plants in your own vertical garden.  Fresh herbs can get super-expensive, and it’s always cheaper to grow your own. When you’re not constantly replenishing your spice drawer or fresh herb selection, you’ll be amazed at how much you can save.

Plant more perennials

If you’re buying new plants each year, it gets expensive. Instead of planting annuals that only last for a year (or a season), try long-lasting perennials in your vertical garden.

Plants That Play Nice in a Vertical Garden

What’s the most fun part of learning how to create your own vertical garden? Choosing the plants, of course! Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of plants that fare well in a green wall.

man having fun while getting water for the grass garden

Via Giphy.com

Ferns

Ferns love damp, shady areas, so they’re perfectly suited for vertical gardens, even on the very bottom row. They won’t mind getting overshadowed by the plants above them or soaked with water. Ferns are also especially beautiful in a vertical garden because of the way different varieties can trail or hang down. In fact, we’d bet you could build a Pinterest-worthy green wall using only ferns. Just mix a variety of colors, frond sizes, and shapes to add interest.

Succulents

Between 2010 and 2015, “succulents” as a Google search term grew by more than 5,000 percent. Hip millennials and trendy designers have a reputation for loving succulents, and for good reason — they’re easy to care for and offer some truly unique looks. With succulents, you’ll need much less water, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally soaking the areas around your green wall.

These plants are hardy and notoriously hard to kill, making them the plant of choice for struggling new gardeners. But it gets better: succulents also come in a stunning array of shapes and colors that make for a perfectly Instagrammable garden. Just make sure to choose small varieties so they won’t get too heavy to stay vertical.

Herbs

We’ve mentioned it before, but we can’t overstate the benefits of using herbs once you learn how to create your own vertical garden. Sure, you can harvest and cook with them, but many kinds of herbs also grow into delicate, beautiful shapes that are as stylish as they are functional. They’ll hang down nicely along the wall, and might even add a certain pretty fragrance to your home.

Flowers

Needless to say, flowers look beautiful in a garden wall. But which ones should you choose? We love flowers that give a cascading or trailing effect, like hoya or trailing begonias. If you’re a talented gardener, you can even try growing the famously challenging orchid. As with any vertical garden plants, you’ll get the best look if you mix different sizes, shapes, and colors for contrast. However, don’t pack too many different styles in, otherwise the wall will start to look too busy.

Vertical Garden Design Trends

So you’ve got the basics down. Ready to get creative, now that you’ve learned how to create your own vertical garden? Try these cool design trends.

man dances while planting in his garden

Via Giphy.com

Go geometric

Try placing different-colored plants strategically to create an abstract, geometric design. Keep in mind: The precise shape is up to you, but the smaller your garden, the simpler the design has to be.

Use labels

How will you know what grows where? You can get creative with your labeling design if you’re growing edible plants you need to mark (or you just like to know what you’re growing). For example, consider adding a border of chalkboard paint around the garden wall. With that, you can easily label your plants and change labels as often as you’d like.

Frame it up

Take that idea one step further and build a complete frame to showcase your vertical garden like art. Wood always sets plants off beautifully, although you’ll need to make sure to give it a waterproof finish first. Try using an old picture frame, and repainting or decorating it as you’d like. You can also build a frame from anything else you can dream up — think seashells, tiles, and more.

Try DIY planters

To add a new level of creativity to your vertical garden, try building mini-planters using mason jars, terra cotta pots, old tin cans, or any other receptacle you can find. To make it vertical, you’ll just need to fix the containers to a wall, and make sure they have holes for drainage underneath.

Ready to Grow: Now You Know How to Create Your Own Vertical Garden!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gardening neophyte, or you’ve had a green thumb for years. You read this whole post, which means you officially know how to create your own vertical garden. Not only that, but you also have the know-how to make it affordable and stylish.  Learning how to create your own vertical garden doesn’t require any prior experience, just a willingness to be hands-on and experiment until you get the results you like. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but this guide will get you off to a good start.

Which vertical garden style will you try? Let us know in the comments!

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