Maximizing Space and Creativity in Small Gardens

Maximizing Space and Creativity in Small Gardens

Many vegetables need a deep root system to thrive, but leafy greens and herbs adapt well to vertical gardening. Vegetables that grow best on trellises are vining types, such as cucumbers or pole beans.

Eucalyptus tree trunk slices serve as creative planters holding spiky and trailing plants for a truly natural aesthetic.

Repurposed Containers

A green wall made from repurposed containers is a simple way to grow herbs, veggies, or flowers. It doesn’t require much soil, and it can help eliminate the need for knee pads or muscle relaxants when gardening.

A garden wall framed by repurposed containers can also act as a privacy screen for urban dwellers or even block noise and pollution. It can also filter air and add color to a space.

Choose a quality potting soil that’s light and lofty with peat or coir to aerate the mix, and mix in well-rotted compost for added nutrients. Then, plant your seeds or cuttings, water, and enjoy the view! Cucumbers are great for training vertically. They start climbing as soon as they have their first leaves, using whatever supports are available to them, such as a wire rod, bamboo pole, wooden fence post, fishing line, or neighboring plants.

Green Walls

Studies have shown that gardening reduces stress and promotes mindfulness. Even if you don’t have a large garden to tend, there are many ways you can incorporate plants into your home or office.

Green walls—also known as living walls—are a rising new trend of indoor and outdoor landscaping that can be used to grow a variety of plant species. Depending on the design, they may use soil (as a substrate), or they may work through hydroponics without soil.

You’ll want to make sure that your green wall has drainage systems, and you should be prepared for regular maintenance and pruning to keep it looking healthy and full. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll water it, as a typical garden hose or watering can won’t be able to reach the pocket spaces of a green wall.


Whether you grow herbs and flowers or vegetables, using trellises to create vertical plantings makes sense. Leafy plants that put out tendrils like pole beans, sweet peas and squashes will easily climb a wire or netting trellis. This arrangement also saves space and reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticides.

Vining roses, clematis and morning glories do great on trellises too. You can even grow salad greens in a self-contained trellis made from an old utility rack like this one. This creative growing idea is especially suited to small gardens. Simply attach a trellis panel to the wall with hooks and hang a variety of containers filled with herbs, flowers or vegetables. It’s an attractive way to add privacy or liven up a boring wall or fence.

Hanging Pots

Many vegetables, herbs and flowers like beans, peas and squash thrive in hanging pots. You can also try espalier fruit trees, a pruning technique that saves space by training them to grow flat against walls or trellises.

Trellises and arches can be used to support climbing plants like jasmine or roses, and even vegetable teepees for beans and other vegetables. Remember that hanging plants need to be watered regularly since their roots are unable to stretch far in search of moisture. A drip irrigation system with a fertilizer injector is a great option as it can be set to regularly feed your vertical garden.

Don’t forget about seating areas and relaxation nooks that transform your small garden into a lush retreat you can enjoy at any time of day.


Succulents pack a powerful visual punch in containers and can be arranged in a variety of ways, indoors and outdoors. This DIY trellis uses a frame to support a row of succulents, but you can use other frames and plants for your vertical garden, including herbs, trailing varieties like philodendron, or even vegetables, such as squash.

Plants need to be selected carefully for a successful vertical garden, especially those that will be growing in direct sunlight. Look for a variety that is drought tolerant and low-growing, like semperflorens (Kalanchoe) or jade plants.

Be aware that the extra heat can cause these succulents to dry out faster, so they will require more frequent watering. Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other problems.