Vertical Gardening Ideas

Creating Height in the Landscape

Living Green Wall Systems

Creative vertical gardening ideas to help you create and use height in garden landscape design. Combining structures like arbors and trellises with the right climbers. Landscaping with trees and placing tall plants in flower bed designs.

Using hanging baskets to draw the eye up while adding romantic ambiance to the home landscape.

A topiary arch makes an elegant vertical landscaping element.

If your landscape is bland or boring, height may be the missing ingredient.

Tall plants add interest to garden beds and borders by pleasantly surprising the viewer. They can be placed so as to interrupt a straight-shot view or to hide what lies beyond. When used in this way, vertical plantings create an air of mystery in the garden.

Despite these intriguing possibilities, vertical gardening’s best and most common use is to maximize the available square footage in today’s smaller landscapes.

If you dwell inside a zero-lot-line subdivision or a townhouse where all you have to garden in is a small courtyard, up is certainly the best way to grow.

Vertical Gardening Ideas
Landscaping with Trees & Tall Plants

Queen palms are fast-growing trees often used to add tropical appeal to Florida gardens.Their feathery fronds dance seductively on any passing breeze.

Planting trees is the easiest way to create height in the landscape. Here are the challenges:

  1. Large trees must be carefully placed, otherwise their root systems may damage hardscape or underground plumbing.
  2. Thought must be given to the shade they will cast when mature and how this will affect your other plantings.
  3. Some trees grow slowly and will take many years to reach the desired height.

A couple of solutions:

  1. Plant palm trees that are hardy in your gardening zone if they fit with your landscape’s style. Palms have smaller root balls than other types of trees and can be transplanted at larger sizes with less risk of transplant shock. You can choose from a huge selection of Large Palm Trees here.
  2. If a flowering tree is more your style, consider planting a crape myrtle. They are fast growers which will achieve a good size in just 2 or 3 years. They bloom in many shades and some feature leaves that change color in the fall and peeling bark. I have 5 of these charmers in my yard.
vertical gardening with palms and bougainvillea.

This is the beautiful landscape of the Ramada Inn in Naples, Florida. If you ever visit the area, you won’t find a better accommodation for the (very reasonable) price.

Here, Pygmy date palms and Canna lilies add a vertical element to a pretty flower bed design.

Behind this garden bed, a purple Bougainvillea vine climbs onto the second floor balcony while a Madagascar dragon tree adds height to a corner bed.

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Vertical Garden Screening

A pleached copper beech hedge extends the height of a garden wall.

These copper beech trees have been placed and pruned so as to form a hedge which extends the height of the garden wall and increases its privacy.

The lovely wall can still be seen beneath the bronze foliage and plenty of room is left for smaller plants and shrubs.

Vertical Gardening
Climbing Plants

Climbing roses scramble up a wall.

If you have an expanse of bare wall or a boring fence, dress it up with a climber.

Here, climbing roses adorn the walls of a stately home in the English countryside. Roses will not cling to a wall without assistance but, in exchange for the trouble of training them, they will supply you with fragrant bouquets.

In hot climates, Bougainvillea glabra can be trained in much the same way. It will put on an even bigger color show but, unfortunately, will not provide fragrance or cut flowers.

If you would prefer something just as fragrant as a rose but less prickly, plant a jasmine vine.

Vertical Gardening with Hanging Baskets

Boston ferns hang romantically from a Savannah porchat

Baskets of Boston ferns dangle like shaggy earrings from the gingerbread arches on this historic Savannah, Georgia front porch.

The hanging baskets add charm and greenery to the narrow space without blocking the view onto the street or taking up valuable floor space. As an added bonus, they are up and out of the way and will not have to be moved each time the porch is swept.

Ferns are a good choice for vertical gardening in shady spots but, for baskets in sunny areas, flowering annuals would do just as well and add a punch of color. Intensely colored cascading petunias would be especially fetching.

The tree in the foreground with the peeling, cinnamon-colored bark is a crape myrtle.

Vertical Gardening Structures

Grape arobr in a Versailles garden.grape arbor covered in red leaves combines with gold black-eyed Susans to spread fall color across this Versailles garden.

Man-made structures create instant height in a garden. From pergolas and arches to trellises and obelisks, there is a perspective-raising structure to fit every landscape and every budget.

A grape arbor like the one above requires a space expansive enough to house it. You can purchase plans to build such a support from scratch or you can take the easy way out and order a kit.

Don’t expect to pay much less than $1,000 for a pergola kit. Assembling it would take 2 people at least a day.

Alternatively, a simple metal arch like the one below can be had for a fraction of the price and a single person could get it installed and ready to plant in an hour or so.

Metal garden arch covered in pink flowers in a front yard landscape design.

To see what flowers blooming up high can do for a garden, imagine this front yard landscape without the arch. Despite all the color on the ground, it would lack excitement.

This garden arch is also perfectly placed to welcome visitors to this home. Stepping onto the path beneath the pink blossoms, guests feel as if they are entering a fairy tale cottage.

To duplicate this look: Cover your arch with a mandevilla vine, pink morning glories or a climbing rose like ‘New Dawn’.

Tips for Matching Plants to a Support

  • Small, light supports like obelisks are marvelous for training annual vines or pillar roses.
  • Large, permanent vines such as Wisteria or rambling roses require a sturdy pergola to support their mature weight.
  • Most climbing roses and clematis vines can be grown on any arbor that suits your fancy.

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