Gardening

Got a Wall? Turn it into a Vertical Garden

9 easy ways to DIY a plant-filled "living wall."

April 21, 2021

I fell into a vertical garden wormhole for the first time after seeing a Pinterest photo of a “living wall” at someone’s wedding. This was several years ago, and I’ve since learned that lush, green, plant-filled walls fall into a larger category of eye-candy, called “vertical gardens”—and boy, oh, boy, is it a magical corner of content. Just search #verticalgarden on Instagram for a preview (good luck not scrolling through all 208,000 posts).

While I’m looking forward to having a living wall at my hypothetical future wedding (it’s the perfect photo backdrop!), creating any sort of vertical garden—even a tiny one!—can be easy and affordable. Here are our best ideas for putting your green thumb to work.


1. Repurpose a ladder

You most likely don’t have a spare ladder lying around, but look to Craigslist or local antique stores to find one affordably. You can turn the rungs into shelves, or use them as racks for hanging potted plants. For an urban space, consider a vertical herb garden—they’re equal parts practical and pretty.


2. Frame your greenery

Instead of hanging another poster, turn succulents into wall art. You can freestyle this by planting your succulents in a shadow box lined with hardware cloth and a staple gun, or use a kit and follow its instructions. The most important things to keep in mind are letting your succulents take root for a few weeks before hanging, and remembering to water those little guys once a month (take it down from the wall and lay it flat before you do this!).


3. Pick up a pallet

A wooden pallet is the idea vessel for a vertical garden in an outdoor space. Think: a wall of greenery that looks lush and a lot more complicated than it really is. It doesn’t have to be huge, either—grab whatever size pallet fits your space, from mini to large. Use landscape fabric to cover the back, bottom, and sides of the pallet (to keep the soil in!), and staple it into place. Leafy greens and herbs work especially well in pallet gardens.


4. Hang a pipe

For a simple, small-scale indoor option, look no further than a rod or pipe, which you can hang with wall-mounts or brackets. Use twine or colorful cords to string it with small planter pots.


5. Stack Some Crates

If you’ve got the outdoor space, this installation really only requires a few crates stacked and staggered into a wall, creating a decorative sanctuary for any number of your favorite plants. What better time than this summer to both try your hand at a new DIY and tend to some plants?


6. Wall Mount Shelves for Plants

Similar to the bookcases and leaning shelves lots of plant people have in their homes, a series of wall-mounted shelves in or outside create a landing pad for pots, planters, and propagation cuttings to thrive while on display.


7. Create a Grid System

This genius rack mounts to the wall and cradles multiple terracotta pots, which, when filled with succulents and trailing vines, creates the ultimate living wall in no time.


8. Display Your Propagation Station

If you’re a serious plant parent, it’s likely that you’re already in the process of propagating a number of your most prized varieties. Instead of just lining them up on a windowsill or scattering them throughout the house, take a page from Hilton Carter’s book, and display the cuttings as they grow to be fully-formed plants.


9. String Up Some Shelves

This plant wall is actually much easier than it looks to accomplish—all you’ll need to do is cut places for pots and drill holes in each corner of a few wooden boards, then tie them together with a strong cord.

Which of these vertical garden ideas would you try out? Tell us below!

This article was updated in April 2021 to add even more vertical gardening ideas.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
  • msmely
    msmely
Writer, eater, traveler.

2 Comments

Jennifer April 21, 2021
Can you tell us more about the hardware used to hang plants on the ladder in #1? And #9? Thank you!
 
msmely April 16, 2019
For pallet planters, remember that there's a moisture differential where the top will be drier than the bottom, so put your water loving plants on the bottom and your drainage-loving plants on the top! This is less of an issue with frame-styles as you can rotate the frame (depending on your mounting options.) If you're using the pallet on a balcony or someplace where the fabric gets lots of air/sun exposure, you might have to water lots lots more than you'd have to water if you had it leaning against a wall. Talk to your landscaper-fam about choices in landscaping fabric since the amount of moisture loss will vary.