There are many benefits of vertical gardening, from growing more food in less space to making your garden more beautiful. We'll share some of our favorites vertical garden advantages to inspire you to give it a try.
What is vertical gardening?
Vertical gardening is growing plants “up” instead of “out”. It includes everything from indoor vertical hydroponic setups, to hanging pots, to raised beds and trellises. Trees, tall shrubs, and “green walls” can also help turn empty space into useful space.
- 10 Vertical Garden Advantages
- Disadvantages of Vertical Gardening
10 Vertical Garden Advantages
I use vertical gardening to make plants easier to care for, reduce disease and predation, and produce a larger crop in less space. Vertical elements add visual interest and focal points.
See “Vertical Vegetable Garden Ideas (Over 20 Photos)” for more ways to use vertical gardening.
1. Grow More in Less Space
Growing plants vertically means you can have a wider variety of plants in the same footprint. You can either stack containers with small plants, or train larger vining plants on trellises so they don't take over the whole garden.
Good options for stacked containers include: lettuces and other leafy greens; radishes, carrots, and other smaller root vegetables; herbs, and strawberries. Potato towers are a good fit in some areas.
Vegetable plants that trellis well include: cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans, peas, melons, winter squash, and pumpkins. Larger fruit may need additional support.
See “5+ Terrific Tomato Trellis Ideas” and “How to Grow Lots of Pole Beans for Easy Picking and Preserving” for more detailed information.
2. Better Air Circulation
Trellising improves air flow so leaves dry more quickly. This reduces the risk of fungal diseases.
Vertical gardening is also an advantage for fighting soil borne pathogens. When used in combination with mulch, soil diseases spread much more slowly. (Or they don't spread at all.)
3. Less Pest Pressure
Reducing pest damage is another vertical gardening advantage. My mom rarely took time to trellis her tomatoes, and we always found tomatoes with damage from mice and slugs at harvest time.
Training your crops up protects the plants from ground dwelling pests. It doesn't completely eliminate the damage, but it does help.
4. Compensates for Poor Soil
Raised beds and container gardens are a great option where soil is poor – or you have no soil (like patio gardens).
I thought this time lapse video of making a lasagna garden bed was a great example of creating something out of nothing with an afternoon of effort and a mix of mostly recycled materials.
5. Easier Weed Control
I use some of my weeds them for food and medicine, but I don't let them grow completely out of control.
When plants are trained up, it's easier to mulch around them. This is another benefit of vertical gardening.
6. Easier Garden Access
For those with limited mobility due to health reasons, raised beds can make gardening possible again. Self watering containers and hanging planters placed at a convenient height enable even those with wheelchairs or walkers to tend plants.
7. Creates Microclimates
In our area, we plant taller crops and place trellises to the north to block the wind. If you have crops that need cooler temperatures, you can place tall crops and trellises to provide shade from the sunlight.
Planting edible landscape plants as a protective green wall around your garden can help shelter tender seedlings and moderate extremes of both hot and cold temperature.
8. Shelters and Protects your Home
Planted on the south side (north side in the southern hemisphere), deciduous vines, trees and shrubs shield your home from the summer sun. Leaves give off moisture, which also creates a cooling effect.
See “9 Tips Everyone Should Know for Keeping Your House Cool” for more information.
In cold climates, plant trees and shrubs to block prevailing winds to reduce your heating load. Planting wind break evergreen trees was one of the first tasks we tackled after moving out to the country.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so they can also help improve air quality.
9. Adds Privacy
Strategically placed hedges and trellises can shield with windows of your home and outdoor spaces from overly curious passersby.
You can also used hanging or tiered planters inside near the windows to bring green spaces inside. Vertical garden plantings can shield unsightly views, such as garbage cans or a busy roadway.
10. Cleaner, Easier Harvest
Another vertical gardening advantage is that my trellised tomatoes, beans and cucumbers are clean right off the vine. This is a far cry from the mud and dust covered produce I remember gathering as a child. It's so much easier to pick pole beans than to spend hours bent over rows of bush beans.
Vertical gardening makes it easier to spot any damaged produce and use it up before it spoils, because bumps and bruises aren't hidden under grime.
11. Vertical garden elements look cool!
I love looking at my garden almost as much as I like eating the crops. Wandering through the garden, it's a pleasure to see the vines trailing up the trellises and see salad greens protected from bolting in the shade. Low, mid and tall crops hum with pollinators.
At our first home, a beautiful climbing rose trellis caught the attention of anyone driving through the neighborhood, bringing a huge splash of color to welcome guests. I would tell people looking for our house to “watch for the flowers”.
Design ideas like this herb spiral from Little Mountain Haven marry the practical with the whimsical to add visual interest to any garden.
These are some of my favorite benefits of vertical gardening. Growing up instead of out takes a little more work initially, but the end result is well worth it.
Disadvantages of Vertical Gardening
As much as I love the advantages of vertical gardening, there are a few disadvantages, too.
If you opt for pots or other raised planters, they will dry out faster than in ground beds. You'll need to water regularly, use drip irrigation, or try self watering planters.
Greenstalk tower planters have a central watering conduit that waters evenly throughout the planter. They may be a good fit for a deck or patio with a flat, level surface.
Use discount code “COMMONSENSE10” to get 10% off your Greenstalk purchase.
Beware of high winds! I've seen a ton of vertical garden ideas with containers stacked up on old ladders or pots arranged like a toddler's set of blocks. These would not work in my garden, because of damage due to high winds.
All my trellises are securely anchored, and any planter that can't be anchored comes inside during rough weather.
Fabric pocket planters are trouble. If you choose a planter that mounts on a wall, make sure it's not going to damage the wall. Soil needs to be moist, so a fabric planter on a wooden wall will cause rot.
If they have enough room, plants will grow roots that are as big or bigger than their parts above ground. Small pocket planters don't have enough root room for plants to grow and thrive.
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Originally published in 2010, last updated in 2022.