Get Growing with Vertical Gardening

Everyone’s heard that vertical stripes are supposed to be slimming, and horizontal stripes are supposedly less flattering. The same is true of your garden! Take advantage of potentially unused space with a variety of vertical gardening methods to condense more plants into a smaller horizontal growing area. Dalen Products produces two items especially suited for this: our Trellis Netting and our Stackable Garden.

So if you’re living in an apartment, have only a small area set aside for growing, or are simply trying to maximize your space, why not try vertical gardening?

Examples and benefits of vertical gardening

Vertical gardening can refer to several different techniques: it could be on a huge scalelike these urban indoor farms in Japan; it could be a lush wall garden inside your home, or a stacking planter, or a shady trellis. It could be planted with ornamental plants, edible plants, or a mix of the two.  Besides being space-saving, vertical gardening or farming can provide attractive privacy screens, easy maintenance, and better yields than growing horizontally.

Some background

Growing plants "vertically" is nothing new; climbing plants have entwined themselves around trees to reach the sun for millennia. Trellises have exploited this tendency in grapevines and other climbing crops since before the Romans. The ancient Babylonians and Mayans grew plants on terrace steps centuries ago. But thanks to recent trends and innovations, ambitious gardeners and urban farmers can now grow plants on walls, indoors, parallel rather than perpendicular to the soil!

Sounds interesting! How can I do it?

Green walls, often shown crafted in a frame with succulents, have been growing in popularity since 2008, and are still a popular home and business installment. But while beautiful, these can often be expensive and difficult to maintain. While you might not have the time and resources to install a green wall in your home, why not create a relaxing green curtain around your porch, patio, or balcony with a trellis? Or put a small area of your garden space to work with a stackable garden?

What can I plant on a trellis?

 Trellis NettingSome of Dalen's Trellis Netting in action

Lots of things! Ornamental twining vines are a very popular option for decorative purposes, and of course cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes grow best with some form of support.

So why is that? Several reasons:

  • For plants like tomatoes, if they grow along the ground they’ll put their energy into sprouting new roots (source). If you stake them, support them with a cage, or tie them to trellises they’ll fruit more. For more information on tomato growing, click here and here.
  • Plants get more light exposure when they grow on trellises. More light = better growth and better ripening of fruits.
  • Better air circulation. Small melons or cucumbers growing on the ground are likely to rot or be eaten by pests where they come in contact with the soil.

All these reasons translate to better yields for you!  According to NC State University, for example, when cucumbers are grown on trellises they can produce “2 to 3 times the average yield from non-trellised fields.” (For the original article click here)

Especially if you’re using the trellis for edible plants, it’s best to keep it at least a foot from any walls for air circulation.

Besides their excellent benefits for crops, trellises have great aesthetic appeal. They can screen your patio or balcony from nosy neighbors; block an ugly view or unsightly yard fixture (like a water tank or air conditioning unit); partition off different areas of your garden, or create a lovely screened-in porch.

What about that stackable planter? Why should I get one of those?

Stackable Garden FormationDalen Stackable Garden planted with strawberries, herbs, and kale

I’m glad you asked! Here are 6 reasons stackable planters are great:

  • Easy to water (just water the top planter and it will spread to the lower ones; no need to water each “pocket” individually)
  • Space-saving
  • Fits a lot of plants into small or awkward spaces (like a patio corner, a balcony, or a front stoop; just make sure there’s enough sun for your chosen plants)
  • Versatile (plant edibles, ornamentals, or a mix!)
  • Easy to store (at the end of the growing season, each level can be nested inside the other to save space)
  • Low-cost and little-time investment

If the venerable history and innovative new methods --as well as all the potential benefits-- have you eager to try vertical gardening, Dalen offers a stackable garden and two different mesh sizes of trellis netting, both made entirely in the USA. Click here for a list of retailers!

If you do try “growing up” with some of these methods, let us know! We’d love to see your photos and hear your comments.