Vertical gardens: ideas for your outdoor space

Don’t have the lawn space or the energy to garden outside every day? Try vertical gardens instead. They’re exactly what you think: gardens that grow vertically instead of horizontally (in the ground), and they create eye-level interest by adding fashionable “living wall” displays to your outdoor space. The best part? They are not that difficult to create. All plants require special care and maintenance, of course, but you won’t have to bend over while you work.

For a porch: create a growing gallery wall


“Planting vertical gardens on walls, fences, gates, etc. frees up space on the patio or garden bed, and the gardens are surprisingly simple to install,” says Shawna Coronadoauthor of Grow a Living Wall. In this photo, a gallery wall of potted plants, herbs and extras adds a welcoming touch to a porch.

To get the look, paint four wooden frames purple, let them dry, then hang them on the outside wall. Add viola and a kale ornamental to two small pots, slip them into mountable flowerpot support rings, and screw them into the wall in the center of two frames. To give the illusion that the pots are hanging from the frames, tie knots around the pots and frames. Hang a “garland” of herbs and a wood accent in the other frames. Give the plants full sun and water regularly.

Near an entrance: hang a lush welcome basket

woven basket filled with green and yellow plants against a purple wall

“A wreath-shaped basket of annuals is perfect for adding interest to an entryway or near a mailbox,” Coronado suggests. Simply hang this vertical garden over a gate or fence in place of a seasonal wreath. To get the look: Add well-drained cactus potting soil to a hanging planter, like the Rattan Wicker Half-Round Hanging Planter (Buy at Walmart, $14.37). Next, nestle in a variety of sedum plants (like ice plant and stonecrop) and an Irish rose succulent. Hang the basket on a wall and give a light sun; water every 7 to 10 days.

On a Fence: Make a Blooming Succulent Frame

succulents in a wooden frame hanging vertically on a wooden wall, for a vertical garden

“A framed living succulent display adds a surprising burst of color to a forgotten fence or wall,” says Coronado. To do: Open a hinged wooden shadowbox with magnetic closure (Buy on Amazon, $17.99), lay it flat and remove the glass from the frame. Lay a custom-cut piece of chicken wire on the back of the frame; use a stapler to secure it in place. Fill the box with cactus soil mix, then add wood glue to the edges of the wood near the magnetic closure before closing to ensure the box closes tightly; let dry. Push the roots of the echeveria succulents into the soil through the wire. Place the box in light sun for two weeks so the roots can establish themselves, then hang it up. Remove from the wall to water once a week.

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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for women.