Story By Amy Andrychowicz
Photos by Tracy Walsh
There are many types of structures you can use for growing food vertically, with virtually unlimited room for creativity. Take some time to think about which structures will work best for the vegetables that you plan to grow, and which will fit into your garden space. Here’s a sampling of different options for vertical gardening structures to help get you started.
An arbor is a structure that is frequently found at the entrance of a garden or over the top of a pathway. It’s common for arbors to have latticework on the sides that is perfect for vining crops to grab on to.
An overhead arbor is often employed to create a gateway into a garden. This simple arch made from PVC and wire adds wonderful height over the top of the short gate. The thick vines also create a lovely privacy screen.
Trellises can be freestanding or attached to something else, like this one that’s built onto the back of a large planter box.
Pergolas covered by vining crops such as these hardy grapes are fabulous for creating a private hideaway in your yard where you can relax after a busy day.
A teepee is probably the simplest freestanding plant support you can make. Teepee structures are not only fun for growing vining crops like pole beans; they can also be used to create tunnels like this one or forts for children to play in.
Store-bought wire tomato cages work great for supporting determinate tomatoes, but indeterminate tomatoes need stronger structures, such as heavy-duty wooden cages, to support them.
A garden obelisk has the geometric shape of famous architectural structures such as the Washington Monument. They have a formal appearance and can be a little trickier to build because of the angle-cutting, but they can make lovely focal points.
77 A-FRAMES AND LEAN-TOS
A-frames and lean-tos are perfect for growing crops like cucumbers, and they make harvesting easier. Tall A-frames like this one are not only great for growing vining crops; they also provide additional growing space for smaller crops, such as lettuce or spinach, under the frame.
88 TOWER GARDENS
Towers are simply stacked planting containers. You can buy stacked container growing systems that are specifically made for growing non-vining crops, such as herbs and salad greens, vertically. Systems like this one make it easy to get started quickly.
99 HANGING GARDENS
Hanging gardens, like living vertical walls, have become a very popular way to grow food. Small non-vining crops such as these salad greens thrive in vertical gardening containers.
Arches can be constructed anywhere, and when built to a larger scale, they can be fun visual elements that draw attention to hanging garden fruits such as gourds, cucumbers, and melons. My squash arch is not only the focal point in my vegetable garden; it’s also functional and gorgeous. Growing squash vertically allows me to keep it under control so it won’t take over my small garden plot.