10 Vertical Garden Systems You Can Build on a Budget

Vertical Garden systems

Vertical Garden Systems can be attached to or hung from walls and fences, built up from the ground, or constructed from free standing containers. The options are endless! The following ten vertical garden systems are functional, budget friendly, and allow you to tap into the benefits of gardening regardless of the size of your yard, patio, or balcony. Best of all, you can build them yourself with some basic tools and supplies. I’m going to start by sharing why we chose to build the vertical garden system we did, but feel free to click here if you want to skip ahead to the ideas and inspiration section.

 

Backstory on our decision to build a vertical garden system. 

DIY Vertical Garden Systems - Our Container Garden Being Assembled
We have three small raised garden beds in the back patio of our townhouse, and we’re already running out of room. After filling the beds with the kale, broccoli, and garlic chive seedlings we received from a local education-based community garden, the entire space was immediately swarmed by tiny flies. For us, the garden is doubling as an education space for the boys, so we decided to attempt a biodiversity lesson and seek a natural pest solution.  The goal: add in some  plants that attract ladybugs who should in turn make the flies disappear.  With very little space left on the ground, we had nowhere left to go but up for the alyssum, cilantro, and geraniums that were recommended to us as ladybug bait. 

While our decision to build a vertical garden was primarily a space issue, quick research showed that vertical gardening is actually a pretty good choice for bad new gardeners like us.  Vertical gardens can improve plant health due to increased air circulation and a reduced risk of disease and pests. It also opened our eyes to creatively greening an unused space, the back fence, that we probably wouldn’t even have recognized as it’s own space otherwise. At the end of the day, each plant we add to our patio makes it feel like a happier space and a bit more like home…with the exception of those darn flies.

our vertical garden system: A simple container garden

Materials Per Section

  • 3 Galvanized Tin Buckets (5″ Diameter)
  • 2 Boards (1 x 3 x 24″)
  • 2  Zinc-Plated Double-Wide Mending Plates (2″)
  • 1 French Cleat Wood Mount Per Section
  • Dark Walnut Wood Stain
  • 1.25″ Wood Screws

Steps

  1. Cut boards to your desired length. You can use the measurements listed above or another that works better for your space.
  2. Screw mending plates on boards leaving a 1/4″ gap in between.
  3. Stain boards your desired color. We used Dark Walnut.
  4. Screw buckets or other containers onto the boards.
  5. Attach the french cleats to fence and back of the top board.
  6. Install your preferred configuration on your fence.
  7. Plant and enjoy your new vertical garden system!

More Options for Vertical Garden Systems

There is virtually no limit to what you can do with a vertical garden system, and bringing your creative side into your garden or patio is a big part of the fun. The following are some additional vertical garden systems we found while trying to picture what might work for our outdoor space. 
Vertical Garden System Option - Honeycomb Trellis

Creative Trellises

A trellis is one of the most traditional types of vertical garden systems, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Love this honeycomb trellis made by Emilee from Mama Needs a Project. Click here to check out the full post with instructions, a video tutorial, and even free printable woodworking plans.
DIY Vertical Garden System - Fabric Pocket Garden

Pocket Hanging Vertical Garden

Sewn pocket gardens can work in any space. The additional benefit of being hung rather than installed means they’re also great for rentals or for those of you like me that change their minds pretty often. Click here for the full post and tutorial on A Beautiful Mess
DIY Vertical Garden - Recycled Cans as Containers

Upcycled Container Gardens

There are endless options for repurposing recycled materials like plastic bottles or tin cans into cute and quirky herb gardens. These tin can planters by Heather at Craft + Tell would add a cheery pop of color to any yard. Click here for the full post and tutorial. 
DIY Vertical Gardens - Mason Jar Herb Gardens

Mason Jar Herb Garden

Mason jar herb gardens work well both outdoors and indoors, should you want easy access to your herbs while you cook. Love this post by The Whoot with a variety of mason jar garden design ideas. Click here to read their post all about mason jar herb gardening. 
DIY Vertical Gardens - Stacked Herb Garden

Stacked Garden Tower

Tower gardens are handy for when your fences or walls don’t get very good sunlight. They have the same flexibility as any other planter, but allow you to grow much more in the same amount of space. Click here to check out this super simple tutorial by Lina D. on Hometalk. 
DIY Vertical Garden Systems - Tiered Strawberry Planter

Tiered Strawberry Planter

This tiered strawberry planter seems relatively easy to assemble and can hold up to nine varieties of strawberries. I wish I would have seen this before we assembled the small garden beds we have now!  Click here for the full post and tutorial by Jenny Krane at Better Homes & Gardens. 
DIY Vertical Planter - Gutter Garden

Gutter Gardens

The gutter garden concept makes so much sense for small space vertical garden systems! A simple garden that is easy to build and maintain? Yes, please! Click here to check out Caroline Burke’s tutorial for this gutter garden on Hunker. 
DIY Vertical Garden Systems - Framed Succulent Garden

Living Art Planters

These living art frames may not be the best for growing vegetables and herbs, but they sure are pretty. I’m definitely keeping these in mind for a future project. Check out the full post and tutorial by Robin Stockwell at Sunset here.
DIY Vertical Gardens - Hydroponics for Beginners

DIY Hydroponics for Beginners

I’ll be honest. As someone very new to gardening, my eyes glaze over a bit when I read about hydroponics. Of all the DIY beginner tutorials I’ve read, this one on the Powerhouse Hydroponics site made the concept seem feasible for a newbie like me. Click here for the full post on building a hydroponic wick system. 

Some things to consider before building your vertical gardening system

  • PLACEMENT: If you’re going to build your vertical garden system on a wall or fence, make sure you’re aware of how the sun hits your chosen space. Also, remember to plan for access, making sure it’s not too much of a challenge to maintain your plants. I’m vertically challenged, so we added french cleats that allow us to easily remove each panel from the fence when it’s time to harvest or plant for the next season. 
  • MAKE ROOM FOR ROOT GROWTH: When designing your system, consider the types of plants you want to grow and make sure you leave enough room for root depth accordingly. Herbs have shallower roots and thus work best for smaller containers. A brief chart on root depth of vegetables can be found here.  
  • WEIGHT: If you’re going to install your vertical garden system on a wall or fence, make sure to account for the weight of the plants as they grow and fruit. Also remember, to account for the extra weight of plants after they are watered. 
  • WATER MANAGEMENT: The smaller the container, the faster the soil will dry out, especially if you have a lot of sun exposure. Plan to water more than you might expect, or possibly consider adding a drip irrigation system to your design. On the other end of the gardening spectrum, be aware of how water drains. Stay on the lookout for leakage and consider adding waterproof materials to reduce the risk of mold and mildew. 

Have fun and be creative

Magnetic Fridge Herb Garden with Tea Tins as Containers
HGTV’s Magnetic Herb Garden for the Fridge. Click here for the post. 
As mentioned at the top, when it comes to vertical gardening systems, the sky is the limit in terms of options. I hope the tutorials above help as a starting point, but the fun really comes when you customize them to create a personal design that allows you enjoy spending time outside in your garden. We’d love to see what you build!  Please share in the comments along with any thoughts or questions you might have.

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