If you’re someone who loves to garden but you’re short on space, a vertical garden can allow you to scale it down to fit in virtually any space inside or outside of your home. Creating a vertical garden such as a plant wall is a great way to incorporate flowers, vegetables, herbs, or other plants you can easily produce in your climate zone. They’re also a great way to create privacy on your deck or patio. Additionally, vertical gardens incorporate upright containers or growth habits to make the most of your chosen space.
You can easily use this type of garden to brighten up a bare wall indoors or your balcony wall, or it works to add color or screening outdoors. There’s virtually no limit to your vertical garden, and you have a virtually unlimited amount of plants you can grow. It’s possible to DIY hanging pots, window boxes, or a garden structure using a tuteur or trellis. Whether you use new items or upcycle some used ones to help create your vertical garden, it’ll quickly become the focal point of your room. So, we’ve put together a large range of DIY vertical garden ideas you can use to inspire your own project this weekend.
1. Hanging Wall Planters
We’ll start off very simple with these vertical garden ideas. All you’ll need is a few planters, sturdy hooks with curved ends, planting materials, wire, drill, and your chosen plants. Start by looking at a spot on your wall that is bare. This is where you’ll eventually hang your pots to create this garden. Start by measuring how tall your planters are, and use this measurement to decide how far apart you want to space your hooks for your planters. Attach the hooks to the wall.
Get your planters and drill a small hole near the top of the planter. Thread the wire through your planter and create a hook. Fill your planter half full with soil and put your plants into the soil. Loop the other end of the wire over your hook, and hang your pots at an angle on the wall to create a vertical garden. They should cascade downward. Make sure there are no drainage holes to leak and make a mess, and water your plants sparingly.
2. Flower Wall on Your Patio
For this vertical garden, you’ll need a sturdy, bare space on one wall of your patio. You’ll also need garden boxes, planting medium, screws or nails, hammer or screw gun, and plants. If you don’t have rectangular garden boxes, you can easily create your own using scraps of wood or purchase wooden ones from your local garden center. Measure out how long your planter boxes are and figure out how many will fit onto your bare wall on your patio.
Generally speaking, these vertical garden boxes won’t go side by side. Instead, you’ll stagger them with one slightly higher than the other going from one side to the other to fill the wall. Once you have all of your spaces marked off, get your hammer and nails or screw gun and screws and securely attach the boxes to the wall. Fill them with your planting medium and plants. You can add perennials or annuals, and vines look very nice because they cascade down. Water them lightly and let them thrive.
3. Perennial Vines
One easy vertical garden idea is to plant a perennial vine that you encourage to climb up a trellis, pergola, or even up the side of your house. What’s even better, if you pick out a perennial vine that matches your USDA hardiness zone, it’ll come back by itself year after year. This garden can require very little maintenance on your part, and it’s a great idea for anyone who has a space in their yard or on their house that they’re struggling to fill without damaging anything.
For this vertical garden, pick out a vine that won’t damage whatever it climbs on. For example, English Ivy is very popular, but it can easily cause mortar damage to your home or any structure it climbs on. However, if you pick out a clinging vine like climbing hydrangea, you’ll get deep green foliage with stunning flowers without any structural damage.
4. Shelving Upcycling an Old Ladder
If you’re someone who has an old ladder lying around that you’re not using or if you have landscape timbers that you’re not using, you can quickly create a ladder-like structure to serve as a stand for your plants. Pick a spot either inside and outside for this garden. If you have a double ladder, you’ll open it up and set it sideways. If you have a single ladder, simply lean it back against the wall at an angle.
The steps of the ladder will create the base for this vertical garden. You’ll arrange your pots on each rung of the ladder, and alternate them side to side. You can also pack as many flower pots on each rung as possible to create a fuller look. You do want to ensure that the rungs are wide enough to support each pot so they don’t accidentally fall off and make a mess or break. Make sure this ladder is out of the direct walking path too.
5. Tin Can Fence Planters
Chances are, you have an old tin can or two lying around your home, or you could quickly acquire some for this vertical garden. You’ll open one end and empty them. Wash them out thoroughly and get a drill with a bit to drill small holes in the bottom for the water to drain out. Paint the outside of each can with metal paint and allow it to dry thoroughly. You don’t want to paint the inside of the cans because it can leach into your soil.
Once the cans dry from the paint, get a screw gun and screws or a nail gun and nails and nail the cans to your larger wooden fence. You can space them out however you like, but make sure that you don’t put them directly on top of one another. Fill each of the cans with your chosen potting medium and put your plants in. Water them thoroughly and make sure they drain after you water them and admire your new vertical garden.
6. Wooden Pallet
For this vertical garden, you will need to purchase plant support hoops if you don’t have any laying around the house. You’ll also need a wooden pallet, screws, screw gun, pots that fit into your support hoops, and some stain. This idea works very well if you have an empty space along your patio or deck, but you can put it virtually anywhere you can lean the pallet against a wall for support.
Start by applying a coat of stain to your pallet to help this vertical garden last longer. Most pallets already have a natural weatherization to them, but stain can help them resist moisture. Arrange and attach your planter support hoops on the pallet, cascading them down from the top to the bottom. Slip your pots into the support hoops, add your planting medium and your plants. Lean the planter against your chosen space and this garden is ready to go.
7. Landscape Fabric Pouches
If you only have a narrow space for your vertical garden and you want to plant herbs, this idea is for you. You’ll need a few strips of landscape fabric, needle and thread, dowel, and a cord to hang the planter up. You’ll also need potting soil and your chosen herbs. To start, make pouches in your landscape fabric. You can do this by folding up a small pocket of fabric and stitching it closed on three sides to leave an opening. Work your way down until each strip has a few pockets.
At the top of the landscape fabric, lay the dowel in the end and wrap the fabric over it. Sew it closed along the long side of the dowel. Make two holes, one on each end of the dowel, and thread your cord through to create a hanger for your vertical garden. Hang your landscape fabric up and fill each pouch with soil. Add your herbs and water it lightly.
8. Farmhouse-Style Hanging Wall Planter
Although the farmhouse style is popular with indoor and outdoor kitchens, it’s also popular for vertical gardens. This super simple design is something you can put together in a few hours. All you’ll need is some planters, pot hangers, brad nailer with nails, paint, paint brush, and two six-foot 1x4s. To start, one of the 1x4s into 38-inch long pieces. You’ll cut three pieces that are 24-inches long to create the frame. Lay the longer pieces side-by-side vertically and arrange the three 24-inch long pieces to form a top, middle, and bottom horizontal section.
Attach these three horizontal pieces to the vertical ones to create an upright rectangle. Next, paint or stain the frame. If you really want a farmhouse look for this vertical garden, you’ll use paint and make it look faded, chipped, and worn. Attach six pot hangers to the frame. One will go in each corner of the frame and one will go on each side of the middle board. Attach the hanger onto your home, put the pots on the hanger, fill them with dirt and your plants and you now have a farmhouse-style garden.
9. Trellis Wall for Privacy
If you already have a trellis wall in your yard, this vertical garden is easy. However, you can also erect a trellis wall along the edge of your property relatively easily with homemade or bought trellises. Once you get the trellises in place, you can decide if you want to paint or stain them to help them last longer. This is especially important if the trellises are wood. Once they’re done, all you’ll need to do is pick out climbing vines and flowering vine plants.
You’ll plant them at the base of the trellises and encourage them to climb up. If you plant perennial vines, they’ll come back every year without any help from you. As they continue to grow all over the trellis, they’ll slowly obscure the view. This turns this vertical garden into a natural privacy screen. The more plants you train to climb up over the trellis, the thicker the wall will be. Choose vines or plants that don’t damage whatever they climb on to keep your trellis sturdy year after year.
10. Upcycled Chicken Wire and Planters
If you have a pergola in your yard, it provides a place for you to sit and relax. However, it has open walls that don’t offer a lot in the way of privacy. You can easily fix this with a little bit of extra chicken wire, some planters, planter hangers, soil, plants, and nails or staples. To start, measure the width and length of the opening on the side of your pergola. This will tell you how wide and long your chicken wire has to be.
Make sure to add a few feet onto the length and width of the wire so you can attach it to the side of the pergola corners and on the top to make it secure. Once the chicken wire is in place, space out your planter hangers wherever you’d like to add planters. Attach your planters, fill them with soil and plants, and water them well. They’ll help fill in the open space on the sides of your pergola with a lush, green wall.
11. Bookshelf Garden
When you think of bookshelves, you’ll notice that they all have preset spaces in them already. Measure these spaces and see how wide they are. For this vertical garden idea, you’ll take an existing bookshelf and add crates to create square growing zones on each shelf where the plants face outward instead of up and down. If you’re afraid that the crates will fall out of the holes, you can easily set plants on the shelves and pack them in to make it look lush.
Whichever one you choose to do, make sure that your bookshelf is in the correct space before you start loading it with dirt, crates, and plants because this vertical garden is going to be very heavy when you finish it. Carefully pick out your plants and succulents so they look nice side-by-side in the bookshelf. Arrange them, plant them, and give them a light watering. You now have an easy vertical garden that shouldn’t take a lot of effort on your part, and it’s very stable and sturdy.
12. Upcycled Nesting Boxes
Anyone who has chickens knows that you’ll have to eventually swap out their nesting boxes for new ones. You don’t have to get rid of these nesting boxes when you replace them, but you do want to really scrub them down. It’s also a good idea to paint or stain them if they’re wooden to help them withstand exposure to moisture and soil, and make sure you allow them to dry before you continue with this vertical garden. It’s also a good idea to tack landscape fabric on the inside of the boxes to provide a small barrier for the wood.
When the nesting boxes are ready, you can choose where you want to attach them to the wall. You’ll want to use plenty of nails and brackets to ensure that the boxes don’t fall under the full weight. When they’re up, you can fill each box with soil. Add your colorful annuals and vines and allow them to grow out of the boxes and spill down the sides of this vertical garden. It looks especially nice attached to the side of a garden shed.
13. Upcycled Dresser
An old dresser can make an attractive shorter vertical garden. Keep in mind that this idea will take up more space than other ideas on the list because you have to have space for the dresser itself and to pull the drawers out reasonably far. To start, take your old dresser and stain it to create a moisture barrier. It’s also a good idea to line each drawer with landscape fabric or something like that to create a thin barrier between the soil and the wood.
Place this dresser wherever you’d like it in your yard and pull the drawers out. The bottom drawer should be pulled out the furthest with the upper drawers pulled out slightly less to create a pretty cascading look. Fill the drawers with dirt and pick out your plants. This idea works best with upright plants, ranging from succulents to lettuce. It’s a larger vertical garden, but it’ll create an eye-catching showpiece in your yard.
14. Upcycled Rain Gutters
Anyone who had their gutters redone will most likely have gutters left over. Instead of paying to get rid of them or dealing with the hassle yourself, upcycle them into shallow vertical gutters. You can even create abstract horizontal designs if your gutters are different sizes. You will want to make sure every end has a cap of some sort on them though to prevent the soil and flowers from washing out when you water or when it rains.
You can use gutter brackets or nails to attach your pieces of gutter to the wall for this vertical garden. When you get them attached however you like, you can fill them with a shallow layer of dirt. Pick out plants that don’t need a lot of space like succulents or smaller annuals. Plant them in your gutters. You can drill small holes in the bottom of the gutters if you want drainage holes. You can also skip this step and water them sparingly too. Just be ready to help it drain if it rains.
15. Shoe Organizer
Old shoe organizers make excellent vertical gardens, and they require minimal work to get them up and running. All you’ll need is the organizer, plants, soil, and a hanger. Since the space is very limited in each of the pockets, it does work better as a herb garden. So, you could easily hang it in your shoe organizer garden in your kitchen to give you fresh herbs in easy reach when you cook.
When you hang your vertical garden up, it’s a good idea to secure the bottom corners as well as the top to ensure it doesn’t accidentally fall. Fill each hole ¾ of the way full with potting soil and add your herbs. Gently backfill the soil around the herbs. Water them sparingly because there are no drainage holes in the spaces, so it’s easy to overwater and damage your plants. You will have to periodically refresh the potting soil to keep your plants healthy.
16. Floating Succulent Planters
Tiny succulents don’t require a lot of soil or gravel, and this makes them very light. This vertical garden idea takes advantage of your glass windows or sliding glass doors. You will need succulent soil and gravel, succulents, and special succulent pots that have suction cups on the back because this is how you attach them to the glass. You can also get plastic or glass shelving that is clear with suction cups on them to set your succulents on.
Decide how you want to arrange your vertical garden. You can get pots that are all the same shape and size for uniformity, or you can mix and match different shapes and sizes. When you get them where you want them, you should fill them with a mix of gravel and a little soil. Place your succulents into the pots. They’ll stick to the glass and create the illusion that they’re floating. Also, they’ll get plenty of sunlight from it streaming through the glass.
17. Stacked Terra Cotta Pots
This vertical garden needs five to seven terra cotta pots in different sizes. The goal is to have the biggest pots on the bottom and slowly go down a size so the smaller pot is at the very top. Each pot should also have a hole in the middle of the base because you’ll thread a 60-inch piece of rebar through it. This creates the middle of the vertical garden where the pots balance around.
Start by driving your rebar into the ground. Thread the eight-inch pot on first and set it flat on the ground. Fill it to the lip with dirt. The next three or four pots are six-inch pots. You’ll thread them on next, tilting each one to the opposite side so they all sit at an angle alternating left and right. Fill each pot with soil before threading the next one onto the rebar. The final four-inch pot will sit upright. You can fill this with dirt and flowers too, or you can get a small decorative bird bath and set it on the top to finish your vertical garden.
18. Woven Basket Planters
The final vertical garden idea on the list upcycles all of your old woven baskets. Maybe you had an old easter basket lying around from when your kids were little, or you liked to have these baskets on hand for storing smaller items. Whatever the case, you can easily turn them into planters. All you’ll need to pull off this idea is a few hooks, old baskets, potting soil, plants, and scraps of landscape fabric with staples and a stapler.
To start, cut the landscape fabric to fit inside the baskets and staple them in place. Fill the baskets ¾ full with potting soil and plant your flowers, herbs, succulents, or other plants. Screw your hooks into the wall or fence where you want to hang each basket. Put one basket on each hook and let them hang by the handle. Water the plants and let them thrive. The baskets will eventually break down and need to be replaced, but they’re relatively cheap, and your friends or family most likely have them lying around.
These 18 vertical garden ideas can help inspire you to upcycle old items around your home, or you can fine-tune your DIY skills and create several vertical gardens to hang inside and out of your home. Set up a few, pick out a few different plants, and see how they brighten up your space all spring and summer long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.