5 Dirt-cheap Ways to Start an Urban Vertical Garden

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Vertical gardening is a popular gardening strategy for ardent green thumbs. It’s one way of allowing more plants to grow and nurture with the right amount of soil, water and light.

It won’t really matter whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant. For as long as you have the necessary materials (and permits from your local council) to create your own vertical garden for added aesthetics and sustainability, there’s no way you can’t achieve your objective.

Starting your own green wall or living wall, as they call it, not only maximizes a small garden space. It also helps in boosting other plant species and improves the airflow within the area.

We’ve compiled five ways to help you kickstart a healthy vertical garden at home (especially if you’re on a budget).

1. Browse some DIY vertical garden tips and ideas online.

Nothing is more essential than plotting out some workable ideas to incorporate into your vertical garden.

Whether it’s a stand-alone wall, terrarium or a trellis, you can get valuable insights from like-minded gardeners or enthusiasts across the Internet and social media groups.

For instance, a fully varnished trellis can be affixed across a simple-looking window which you can use to hang your aluminum or colorful tin buckets filled with small plants.

Imagine saving all that space and increasing the visual appeal of your property at the same time?

Consider the following steps when planning to assemble a sturdy trellis out of wood planks:

  • Decide on the exact size of your trellis and the number of tiers to build.
  • Grab a tape measure and get the correct dimensions of the wall or fence.
  • Hang the brackets on the fence and make sure the gaps are equal.
  • Use wood boards and screw them together with a drill and nails to attach the planks.
  • Pour soil into the newly built trellis and start laying the plants or herbs.

Stackable pots or vertical planters are also a great addition if you like to enhance a dull-looking space in the backyard.

  • Clay pots of different sizes
  • Tipsy or center rod
  • Small-flowering plants or perennials
  • Potting soil and small rocks (for a sturdy base)

2. Look around what you can use or improvise.

Urban Vertical Garden

Chances are, whether you’ve just moved into a new house or rental home, you have a few, old stuff around your property that you can repurpose.

Some examples are old window frames, pallet boards and pockets in order to make the most of your used items.

You can use them as plant covers, bases or containers for optimum efficiency.

Another example for improvised vertical garden planters is an old rack. You can either have it mounted on a wall or stood on the ground to ensure that it properly holds the plants placed on it.

Other materials that you can improve and repurpose are:

  • Staircases or ladders. Painting them white or any choice of color can restore their original beauty.
  • Hanging baskets and bottles. On-a-budget idea to try. Double check if they’re able to carry the soil and plants.
  • Shelves or dividers. Those that you think should be replaced may be repurposed to position your potted plants or herbs.
  • Shoe organizers. Place them either indoor or outdoor but make sure they’re not sun-deprived (especially those that require full sun).
  • Gutters. Drill drainage holes onto it to give way for excess water. You can also hang them if you want.

Note: Cover the panel or the board with powder coating to prevent rust from coming into contact with the plants.

3. Pick the best plants to grow.

Simply put, not all plants thrive in a vertical garden set-up.

Likewise, you don’t have to buy expensive herbs and vegetables to grow beautiful plants that survive season after season.

Some questions to ask a garden specialist or a local nursery store include:

  • Are the plants flexible enough to grow in compact spaces?
  • Does your climate correspond to the capacity of the plants to grow?
  • Can your wall or fence able to carry the weight of the plants?
  • Are they able to emerge at just the right size without dominating other plant species?
  • Do the plants require low maintenance of care and monitoring?
  • Can the plants be transferred easily in case you plan to relocate?

Some vertical garden plants and herbs to grow are parsley, basil and oregano.

These herbs require sufficient sun exposure but can thrive in average amounts compared to sages that need full sun.

If you want to plant vegetables such as lettuces, tomatoes and radishes, you may need to consider the amount of sunlight they receive.

It’s easier to pay attention to those with similar needs so you have nothing to worry about placing them together in one place.

You may also opt for mosses, ferns and succulents to help guarantee their growth in any type of environmental conditions.

Make sure you provide them with an ample amount of water to support the root system and prevent them from drying up.

4. Choose your soil wisely.

Like with any other plants planted in horizontal gardens, vertical plants need quality soil to ensure their growth.

Since a vertical set-up incurs growth limitations, it’s important to guarantee the use of rich potting soil.

As recommended, compost-filled and weed-free soil should be used.

Perform a soil test before you get a bunch of orders.

You can try it first with one or two potted plants and see if it works well for the plants. If so, some materials to buy may include:

  • Brick pieces
  • Pots
  • Potting mix to help drain the excess water
  • Soil
  • Organic manure

Watering tips for vertical gardening plants:

  • For outdoor plants, it’s ideal to water them daily and allow full sunlight to help support growth.
  • For indoor plants, on the other hand, water them at least three to four times a week or until the topsoil becomes too dry. Do this alternately especially if the plant species do not receive a high amount of sunlight on a daily basis.

Note: Vertical gardening limits the use of adequate soil as opposed to the traditional gardening method. As a solution, keep the plants frequently watered but make sure to drill holes for each container to improve drainage and promote air circulation.

5. Prepare some extras as replacement.

It’s no secret that some plants are short-lived and others die eventually, particularly those planted vertically.

Due to lesser soil and weaker roots, it’s ideal to plant a few species to fill a vacant area in case the other reaches its thriving capacity.

Growing a few plants in a separate pot or container can help you replace the dead plants or herbs in an instant.

You can easily get the one you’re keeping and transfer it to your desired spot.

Urban Vertical Garden


Going vertical doesn’t have to be costly to meet your property needs and preferences.

Paying attention to the basics can give you a better understanding of how you can succeed in vertical gardening.

Consider the above tips before you jump the gun.

Have fun with setting up your vertical garden!