Benefits of Vertical Gardening


Vertical shutter garden | The Micro Gardener

A repurposed window shutter forms the structure for a simple but stylish vertical garden.

Regardless of where you live, I’m a firm believer you can take advantage of some of the many benefits vertical gardening offers.


The advantages of vertical gardens really come into their own in micro garden spaces where options are very limited but as most people live in urban areas, clever design ideas are a key to make the most of the space you have.


So if you’re not yet growing up, here are 12 reasons why you should!



“Vertical gardening is an innovative, effortless, and highly productive growing system that uses bottom-up and top-down supports for a wide variety of plants in both small and large garden spaces.” – Derek Fell, author Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out for More Vegetables & Flowers in Much Less Space

Vertical gardens help you:



  • Maximise Limited Space:  Increase growing space especially when it is at a premium in a very tiny area.


An edible kitchen garden with clever tiered vertical beds, make great use of a narrow space that was formerly a dog enclosure.

This kitchen garden has effectively used techniques like stacking raised garden beds and growing climbing veggies up trellises. These increase productivity and make maximum use of space.


  • Create a Garden Room:  Some vertical structures like arbors, arches, pergolas and gazebos help create the ambience of an outdoor garden ‘room’ and can focus the eye on the mystery beyond.  They can also give a sense of height and depth to an otherwise small space.


Arbor on path via where Bonnie Helander shares her tips on what makes a great garden.

An arbor at an entrance or on a pathway can frame a space, invite you further into the garden and provide an appealing vertical structure to add colour and character.


  • Grow a Privacy Screen:  Screen or disguise unwanted views (like boxy air conditioners and unattractive garden structures like sheds or compost bays), nosy neighbours and create more privacy.
  • Increase Accessibility:  Plants are easier to reach – makes fertilising, watering, pruning and harvesting much more convenient and saves your back.


This garden features pots on seats! Take a look at the space YOU have to work with: consider what sort of structures would maximise your ability to achieve your goals.

This micro garden space takes advantage of stacking plants with a step ladder and clustering pots on the ground and on repurposed chairs.


  • Nurture Healthier Plants:  Getting plants up and off the ground improves air circulation = healthier plants and less pest & disease problems.  It also minimises damage due to pets or wild animals digging up gardens on the ground.
  • Enhance Visual Appeal:  Improve the beauty of your garden and increase ‘curb appeal’ by adding character, variety, structure and colour. Create ‘eye candy’ by planting at eye level with vertical garden structures like hanging baskets and window boxes.
Window boxes at the front of this house are repeated with great impact.

Add street appeal with window boxes – repeating the same colours here really gives a WOW factor and helps brighten up the exterior.


  • Grow More Plants:  Expand the number and kind of plants you can grow in your garden.  Some vegetables like pumpkins that grow on vines and take up a lot of personal space, can be trained to grow up and over a trellis in a very compact space.
  • Obtain a Higher Crop Yield:  Obtain a more productive harvest of food crops by growing up and using particular techniques like espalier.
Apple trees being grown in espalier serpentine & fan shapes. The trees are protected from chooks at the base with chicken wire while they establish.

Espaliered trees take up minimal space but increase fruit crop yields significantly. Here these apple trees from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen are growing in a serpentine shape and on another fan shape wire trellis on the right.


  • Reduce the Impact of an Urban Environment:  Soften hard or stark building and landscape surfaces by camouflaging with living green walls and other vertical design features.


Research by the Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge has found that a layer of vegetation can reduce heat loss from buildings, cutting the wind chill factor by 75% and heating demand by 25%.


  • Define a Space:  Create an entrance, backdrop or framework; define boundaries and edges; and provide a sense of enclosure or seclusion.
Drip irrigated planters feed the edible deck garden. | The Micro Gardener

This compact deck area cleverly screens out neighbours with vegies in planter boxes and lattice screens. It makes an inviting, functional and edible garden space while not compromising on the entertaining area.


  • Create a Micro Climate: A living natural shield can insulate a building (from heat, air pollution or noise) and help to regulate temperature by cooling and shading an area.  You can also create a micro climate by adding a vertical structure like a tepee, trellis, pergola, arbor, arch or A-frame that will provide shade below.  The cooler spot under the support will suit shade-loving plants and sun worshippers will thrive climbing up and over so you get the best of both worlds.
  • Improve Air Quality and your Health: Research has revealed that plants improve both indoor and outdoor air quality by removing harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and absorbing pollutants.  Houses have been found to have consistently poorer air quality indoors than out, even with external pollution.  So growing plants vertically even in compact spaces like windowsills, balconies, front entrances and hanging in aerial space will make a BIG difference to your health.


Lemon juicer garden - simple small plant containers can still improve your indoor air quality.

This was an awesome lemon juicer made by Wedgwood. Sadly, it broke whilst juicing a lime but has now been recycled into a plant pot instead on the kitchen windowsill.


Related Articles: Add Space with Creative Vertical Gardens: Part 1 and Part 2; and 15 Helpful Design Tips for Vertical Gardens.  You can find even more Clever Design Ideas in the Container Gardening category.

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – All rights reserved.