If You Can't Grow OUT, Grow UP

This week's tip of the week from the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado brings a great idea of growing plants "up" instead of "out" when space is limited. Read more.


Vertical gardening and "green walls" are a global trend that hasn't been seen much yet in Colorado.  We don't have the year-round climate to support expanses of green walls like you see in more temperate areas.
Still, we can apply the principle of growing UP when we can't grow OUT.  A garden grown on a wall can grow a crop of farm-fresh produce, a bouquet of flowers or a chef's collection of tasty herbs.
Growing vertical gives everyone a shot at being a gardener.   Even on a tiny loft patio with minimal floor space, there's room to grow a variety of herbs, veggies and flowers because the growing is done up the side of a wall.  In small spaces like this, the garden becomes an artful backdrop to outdoor living just like the landscape that surrounds a suburban patio.
Vertical gardening is similar to any other type of gardening.  The plants have to match the exposure, so sun-loving plants need to grow on sun-bathed walls and shade-loving plants need to be on shaded walls.
Here are some basic how-to's for vertical gardening:
  • Be sure you have access to water as vertical gardens in sunny areas in particular, will dry out faster than gardens in the soil.  Running a drip line from the sprinkler system to wall-mounted containers is an easy way to water them.
  • Match the needs of the plants to the sun exposure of the wall.
  • On a large wall with tiers of plants, place the more sun-loving plants on top with shade-lovers below.
  • Use a variety of plants to get an assortment of both color and function.
  • Remember to fertilize regularly so that plants grow large and cascade over the container.
  • Bear in mind the vertical garden is as seasonal as other containers and won't survive the winter months.
Great plants to include in a sunny vertical garden:
  • Veggies that thrive in hot weather--tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash, melons.
  • All types of herbs are great, but herbs like cilantro and sage will attract beneficial insects.
  • Sun-loving annual flowers add color to the mix.  Portulaca, petunia, zinnia, ipomeas, lantana, verbena, cosmos and callibrachoa are all good choices.
If you have a small space, or want to make a larger one even more productive, consider growing UP as much as OUT.

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