How to Create a Vertical Garden | Midwest Living

How to Create a Vertical Garden

Tight on space? Sick of bugs and weeds? Give your garden a lift by going vertical with a living wall, vertical planter or trellis.
  • Vertical gardens: Against the wall
    Photo by Linda Oyama Bryan

    Against the wall

    If your garden design is hitting the bricks, Chicago-based interior designer Frank Ponterio and Mariani Landscape have the solution: Hang earthen pots and lined wicker baskets. Nix a polka-dot effect by filling them with green ivy or sedge.

  • Pocket gardens
    Photo by David Tsay

    Pocket gardens

    Pockets of breathable, recycled material last 15–20 years and attach to wood, masonry, concrete and chain link with metal grommets. Sold singly or rows of three or five. (Woolly Pocket, from $19;

  • Vertical gardening
    Photo by Peter Krumhardt

    Lean and green

    Prune and tie fruit trees—apple and pear are traditional—along wire or a frame to skim a wall. Trees grafted on dwarf rootstock work best. Give it three to five years for a full look.  

  • Vertical garden: Tuteur
    Photo courtesy of Terra Trellis


    Steal the scene with this weather-resistant metal tuteur—a four-sided pyramid trellis for vigorous vines like trumpet honeysuckle, cup-and-saucer, or purple passionflower. Available in 5- and 6-foot heights and seven colors, including oxide, shown. Order this tuteur with a sphere or a screw-on bird feeder, birdhouse or bee bungalow topper. (Akoris Tuteur, $279–$490;

    4 fast-growing vines

    Looking for an intriguing climber that’ll reach 10-plus feet in two months? We’ve got you covered.

    1 Chocolate vine ‘Silver Bells’  Rosy blooms and small, mild fruits adorn the 15 feet it sends out in sun or partial shade.

    2 Scarlet runner bean This one zips to 10 feet and sets showy scarlet blooms. Eat the pods whole or just the beans.

    3 Dutchman’s Pipe Curving trumpet flowers brighten the 30 feet it can reach in just eight weeks.

    4 Moonflower Fragrant 6-inch purple or white flowers bloom each evening on the 10–15 feet of this morning glory species.

  • Shawna Coronado
    Photo courtesy of Shawna Coronado

    5 reasons to create a vertical garden

    Chicago’s Shawna Coronado, author of Grow a Living Wall  (Cool Springs Press,  2015), shares why she gardens skyward.

    1 Grow anywhere Put these gardens right where you want them—a balcony, patio, garage wall or fence.

    2 It’s easy Once you plant the garden, it’s super-low maintenance.  No weeding!

    3  Less is more Because the plants are up off the ground, they have better air circulation (so less fungus or rot). They’re also ideal for pollinators while being less susceptible to pests that are at home on the ground.

    4 Super saver Prevent waste by installing an automatic drip line (from $28; that encourages water to trickle top to bottom. Planting tightly to fit a container results in a compact root system that holds moisture better.

    5 You’ll like the math Planting veggies? If you go vertical, you can grow dozens of plants in a small footprint rather than a couple of space-eating rows.

Comments (1)

CAROLMATTH62602 wrote:
Just received my March/April issue of Midwest Living. Reading over the recipes, I could not help but comment on your recipe for Spring Tortellini Soup. You have a side bar that refers to broccolini as a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. In the picture of the soup what you are referring to broccolini is nothing more then broccoli gone to seed!. I have grown broccoli in my garden for years, and after picking the large head of broccoli you will get lots of smaller stocks, if those are not picked they grown spindly and flower. That is exactly what you have in your soup! If they are selling those in large supermarkets as broccolini I say someone has come up with a great marketing idea. Carol Matthes

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