How to Build a Stunning Vertical Garden in 7 Simple Steps

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated April 25, 2022
Woman arranging her green wall
Photo: tomazl / E+ / Getty Images
Difficulty

Intermediate

Learn a new skill while beautifying your home.

Time to complete

4 hours

Give your garden a vertical glow-up

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Power drill
  • Clamps
  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Staple gun

SUPPLIES

  • Lumber (three 2-by-8-inch boards (perhaps more, depending on desired frame size)
  • Sealant/paint
  • Paint brush
  • Screws
  • Staples
  • Nails
  • Optional: felt, plastic, chicken wire

Whether you want a vegetable garden or wall of flowers, a stylish and space-saving vertical garden could be the answer. Not only do they loook cool and expand gardening options in tight spaces, but they can also make gardening without bending over for hours a lot more accessible. Learn how to build a great vertical garden in this seven-step guide.

Prepping to Build a Vertical Garden

Here are three things to consider before you start your project.

Pick the Right Wall

If you'll be building your vertical garden against a structure, such as a home, garden fence, or interior wall, you'll want to also decide if the wall is in good shape, as well as if you want a mobile or fixed structure.

Decide on Your Vertical Garden Structure

The step-by-step portion of this guide will explain how to build a boxed frame vertical garden. But there are other ways you can grow plants vertically, and some of these strategies may fit your space or budget better.

For example, is your vertical garden to give you a little privacy outdoors? Building a DIY garden trellis, for example, could be a much easier project that achieves that goal.

Decide Which Garden Boxes You'll Use

You have two options for your build, namely based on the type of garden boxes you want to install: you can build your own and insert them to a backer board, or you can purchase a tiered garden planter that gets drilled into your frame. 

Take into consideration what type and how many plants you'd like to grow. Pre-built garden boxes start at around $60, but you could spend $200 to $300 on boxes for a big vertical garden.

7 Steps to Build a Vertical Garden

Floating plants on wall
Photo: Deidre / Adobe Stock

Here are the seven steps you need to take to make your green thumb point upwards.

  1. Build the Frame

    Your three pieces of 2-by-8 inch lumber will form the outer edges and mid-board for support. Cut four equal pieces (each into 4-inch sections) to form the frame, then cut a fifth to be used as the backer board. (The last piece of wood can be used in step 2.)

    Cedar, because it's rot-resistant, is a good choice here. Add paint or stain if you'd like before assembling. Let it dry per the instructions on the label.

    Screw two screws into the edges of all four corners to form your frame.

  2. Add Gussets and a Mid-Board for Support

    If you're installing particularly heavy boxes or plan to plant a lot of items, you’ll want to have gussets added to the bottom corner beams. Use a miter saw to make angular cuts on the remaining piece of lumber, measuring them against your frame and marking with a pencil. Make cuts and then screw them into place. 

    Attach the mid-board to the back of the frame using screws. If you want multiple rows on your vertical garden or attachment points to the wall, cut one more piece of lumber in half and install them above and below the mid-board.

  3. Attach a Backing Layer

    Adding a backing to your vertical garden is recommended, although the material you choose is up to you. Good choices are felt, chicken wire, and plastic. 

    Here are some benefits of vertical garden backing layer to help you decide:

    • Felt helps retain moisture and dulls UV exposure

    • Plastic helps retain moisture and enhance privacy

    • Chicken wire enables airflow and helps vines and climbing plants grow

    Install your chosen material to the back portion in front of the mid-board backer. Felt and plastic can be installed with nails; chicken wire should be installed with a staple gun.

  4. Build and/or Install Your Boxes

    A wood box on wall
    Photo: SUTTIPONG / Adobe Stock

    If you bought premade boxes, install them to your backer boards per the instructions. 

    If you're building from scratch, here are some tips:

    • Standard width for the boxes should be 2, 4, 6, or 8 inches

    • Use 1- or 2-inch thick wood

    • Stain or paint before assembly

    Also, be sure to build the boxes flat and not at an angle; most plants benefit from having a flat bed of soil to grow in.

  5. Install a Vertical Irrigation System

    Vertical garden irrigation systems make life a lot easier, and aren't difficult to install. This is one step even budget-conscious vertical gardeners can outsource pretty easily.

    You can purchase a vertical garden irrigation system for $30 to $100 online or at home improvement stores. They generally attach directly to the frame using screws or clips that come in the kit.

  6. Mount Your Vertical Garden

    Attach your vertical garden to your chosen structure using screws along the back boards and at the top corners. If you'd prefer to keep your vertical garden mobile, you may consider installing it at a very slight tilt, and placing something in front (a DIY garden bench or stones are popular options).

  7. Add Dirt/Plants

    Give your irrigation system a test run, then place dirt, seeds, plants, or whatever you've chosen to grow in your boxes.

    If you have leftover plastic from the backing material, use this to line your grow boxes to improve moisture retention. Your vertical garden is ready to go!

Building a Vertical Garden DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

A vertical garden is an accessible project for many homeowners. If you don't want to build the frame and boxes from scratch, you can spend a little bit extra cash to get some of it premade to make the DIY build easier.

A local gardener may be able to help get your vertical garden project off the ground. 

On the other hand, a handyperson service with gardening experience near you could build the frame or tackle the portions you're uncomfortable with. There are multiple ways to tackle this project. The right way will depend on what you feel like doing and what you don't mind outsourcing!

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