Vertical Gardening in Outdoor Environments

Think you don’t have a lot of space in your outdoor play garden to grow a lot of plants? Need more shade for children and staff? Is there a need for more privacy in your outdoor space? Then vertical gardening can add a new dimension to your outdoor play space. We can use vertical space to grow up!

Vertical gardening is a great option for small outdoor spaces and for spaces that need a sense of privacy and enclosure. In this garden we created in California, we used vertical gardening to block out the unattractive adjacent parking lot.

Many gardeners who grow plants vertically do so by using some type of structure (make sure it can’t be climbed) or container. Commonly used structures that we have used in our play garden designs are arches, bean tri-pods, willow huts, drive through arbors and bench arbors. Many of these structures can add architectural interest to your garden and create a sense of terrior when covered with native plants.

Trellises can be purchased and or constructed to create outdoor rooms for little cost. These trellises can then be covered with a variety of climbing plant materials. With this method you can not only create smaller rooms in outdoor spaces but also provide a much-needed sense of privacy that vines growing on trellises can provide.

Not enough space for trellises? Need a more flexible solution? Gardening magazines now even offer portable trellises if you need to keep the space less permanent.

The most popular plants for vertical gardening are vines. Vines climb by means of tendrils that cling or twine that can be added to support vertical growth. Perennial vines will need the most support as they come back every garden season and can become quite heavy.

Many vegetables can be grown vertically including pole beans, peas, cucumber, tomatoes and squash. Just remember to ask for the vining variety and place these types of vines where they can get several hours of sun a day.

For more ideas, search the gardening books and many magazines in your local community library. If your city is fortunate and has a children’s garden or other public garden plan a visit and take your camera to get new ideas. Even if your space is limited, you will be amazed at the amount of vertical gardening that you can do with these new ideas.