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Picture of Vertical Garden
Gardening is fun but when living in a city, space is an issue. This instructable will show one way to make best use of the space you do have in a city: vertical space. And by using vertical space I don't mean using climbing plants, I mean building an actual vertical garden in wich you can grow plants.
 
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Step 1: What do you need?

Picture of What do you need?
Ingredients:
- Some sort of iron frame or garden rack, size depending on the space available
- Wood:
* 4 - 6 pieces of approximately 10 x 5 x 5 cm to hold the garden rack from the wall
* Planks of slats to line the frame
- A sheet of plastic
- Jute cloth to hold the earth. This should be the size of the garden rack, plus an extra 20 cm on the long sides
- Paint, or something else to protect the wood against the weather
- Screws, dowels and some cramp-irons and small connection strips or corners

Tools:
- Drill
- Hammer
- Screwdriver
- Saw



Step 2: Preparing the wood

Picture of Preparing the wood
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Before starting the project, paint or otherwise protect the wood against rain. If you don't, the wood may start to decay and your vertical garden might not last as long as you would like.

The planks will be used to line the frame and make it more solid so it will later hold the weight of the earth back. Saw the planks at the right size to fit the frame. In the end you will get three pieces: a short one for the top of the frame, and two long ones for the sides.

The blocks (approximately 10 x 5 x 5 cm) will be used to attach the frame to the wall. Because you will use the long sides for this, get long nails (around 15 cm). Drill a hole through the wood using a drill with a diameter slightly smaller than the screw, then put the screw through.


Step 3: Preparing the garden rack

Picture of Preparing the garden rack
fixing the wood.jpg
Attach the three planks to the frame using the iron cramps. Then turn the frame around and attach the planks at the top together, using connecting strips or corners.





Step 4: Preparing the wall

Picture of Preparing the wall
The frame will be attached to the wall at 4 points: the two top corners and about half way down the middle on each side. Use the frame to mark these spots, drill holes and put the plugs in. At my balcony, the bottom of the frame is fitted against the tiles which lay on the balcony floor and wich stop about 10 cm from the wall. The tiles hold the bottom of the frame in its place. If this is not possible at your place, drill two more holes in the bottom corners, and make two more wood blocks to attach the bottom of the frame to the wall.

To protect the wall against the roots of the plants and against humid getting into the wall I put a piece of plastic sheet on the wall were I will later attach the vertical garden.

Step 5: Attaching the jute cloth

Picture of Attaching the jute cloth
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Now, this is actually the trickiest part of the vertical garden. The objective is to attach the jute cloth to the wall using the wood blocks have been made at step 2. The difficult part is that the blocks need to be on the inside of the cloth when finished. On the picture you can see what it is supposed to look like in the end, and what it looks like when you're half way through.

Start by taking one of the wood blocks and the jute cloth. Put the screw through the corner of the jute cloth, and then screw it into the plug you've put in the wall at step 4. Before you do attach the block to the wall, check if you have enough jute to attach the other side as well.

Then take the second one and do the same. The last two will be a bit harder to attach because the cloth will be in you're way. But although jute is not elastic, it's flexible enough to be pulled over the blocks when they're attached firmly to the wall.

Step 6: Fixing the frame

Picture of Fixing the frame
attach the frame.JPG
Now take the frame and some screws. Put a screw through the planks at the places where the wood blocks are, and use it to attach the frame to the wood blocks.

Now just cut away the excess plastic sheet around de vertical garden and the garden is almost finished.

Step 7: Put earth in and start planting!

Picture of Put earth in and start planting!
Now you will need earth to fill up the garden. Best is to mix in plenty of compost to make the earth fertile. When you're half way through, put water on the earth tot settle it. Then fill up the garden and water down the rest as well.

For planting: use small seedlings, but not so small they're still very vulnerable. Cut a small hole in the jute and put the plant in.



Step 8: Some tips for the pro's

Picture of Some tips for the pro's
- use perennials: planting new plants each year will wear down the garden faster and you will need some plants to stay into the garden to keep the earth alive over winter.

- I put tomato plants (I know, not perennials) the first two years and they did extremely well. The second year it was harder to put the plants in because the earth had dried out over winter.

- I've just build my second vertical garden and because dehydration is a problem I will build in some 'irrigation': a waterhose with small holes in it that can be used to water the garden from the inside.

- cover the top of the garden with some straw or other type of mulch, to prevent dehydration form the top. Also this will slowly decay and work as compost.

Wouldn't it be easier to wrap the jute around three sides of a 1 X 3 frame?

Thank you for this is a great piece. It really helped me to set up my hydroponic gardening. The way you summed up everything is really helpful
as it can be easily done at home and saves a lot of space. The pictures
were a bonus.

LivingWallPots11 months ago

Vertical gardening is a great way to take advantage of vertical space and double your greenery. This post has great instruction for training climbing vine like plants (ex. wisteria, philodendron) to climb on a vertical service. Anyone who like the idea of this vertical DIY but would like to be able add more plant species to their wall will love my product.

gpracchia1 year ago

Vertical garden, In italy is not popular.

Wonderful& original, but the plant are tomatos ?

I'm still loving this concept though I have yet to build my own. Do you have any more pictures of it over time? I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see how it worked out and held up and to hear what else you've learned about it.
TechDante3 years ago
could this be done with a smaller mesh. had this idea about making a small one of these for a indoor herb garden
Try an over-the-door shoe hanger. If used indoors, just put a small tray underneath it, to catch any water that drips all the way down.
wapatterson4 years ago
I thing you would get a better spread of water inside if you used a "soaker hose" they are pretty cheap and work really well with gardens.
EvoOrganic4 years ago
Great idea for a vertical garden. It's great that you can have a green wall in such a small space. There's also a vertical garden system called Aria. It's really nice for growing herbs. It has irrigation and everything built into it and it's really easy to put together.
g10smile4 years ago
you can use TerraCottem, proven and leading soil conditioning technology that increases the water and nutrient holding capacity of soils and growing media and improves their structure and performance, increases the plant's root development and plant growth and reduces the need for watering up to 50%.
Maralyn454 years ago
Nice idea......nice blog too
Nice idea! I wonder how long something like this will last? Any concerns about termites? I've heard it isn't good to have moisture close to a house's foundation.
Kaspr0075 years ago
Hi Swomp, Very nice instructable! I was wondering if you have some more pictures of the finished wall near the end of the season...when everything is mature and filled out? Cheers, Kaspr
-chase-5 years ago
Hi - Nice instructable!

I picked up a couple of the Felknor Ventures Topsy Turvy Planters.

Though i have yet to use them yours looks great and can obviously grow a lot more strawberries or what have you.

In thinking over the issue of evaperation - the Topsy Turvy  Planters are made with a tarp type material - perhaps this would help keep the water in as opposed to the jute material?? Just a thought you may want to try on your next one or an additional one - to see what works best.

As well your ideas on soil additives sound like they are on the right track to help with this issue as well.

tdhess -chase-5 years ago

FYI...My topsy turvy didn't do well and I was wondering if it was from using non-breathable fabric. In hotter climates I think the non breathable fabric traps heat and moisture and caused high temps and mildew.  Just thought I'd share that.

-chase- tdhess5 years ago
Thanks! for the info on the Topsy Turvy ( as mentioned i haven't tried mine yet - ( i have two different kinds - 1-4-strawberry and 1-4-tomatoes)

Well perhaps partial shade for the Topsy's will help them... i'm in a tropical area with lots and lots of sun currently. So thanks again for your experience with them.

Well then i don't have another suggestion for the water evaperation issue you're having with your Garden wall.

I'll have to think on it a bit - see what i can come up with - perhaps a thought or two after visiting the local growers center. If i come up with anything that may help or you might want to give a try - i'll post it.

ahh - wait - maybe a simple poly styrene sheet will help and insulate - between the dirt and the cloth - they come in 2 ft x 4 ft x 3/4 inch at Home Depo and Lowes...

just a thought... maybe worthless - but - a thought none the less.

;0)
Applebohn5 years ago
Love the idea! Great ible :)
jdomingo5 years ago
I love it!

I'll try! promise to upload a picture!
SinAmos5 years ago
Funny enough, my tomatoe plants believe they are perennials.
Floddertje (author)  SinAmos5 years ago
apparently, some are. This is what wikipedia says about tomato plants:

'Indeterminate types are "tender" perennials, dying annually in temperate climates (they are originally native to tropical highlands), although they can live up to three years in a greenhouse in some cases. Determinate types are annual in all climates.'

I'm from a temperate climate, so they die when it gets colder...
mikchil5 years ago
Might use landscaping fabric instead of jute.  Probably would last longer and maybe cheaper.
Learndy5 years ago
Great instructable! Remembers me of Patrick Blanc's talk at Campus Party Europe. He tolds us how to create them in the large and showed lots of pictures of his vertical gardens. I've seen one at Madris - impressive! Kicked me to think about building a fence as a vertical garden. As a vertical herb garden.
ChrysN5 years ago
Nice! Great for small spaces.
thepelton5 years ago
I recall hearing about someone who set up a pumpkin vine in a narrow area, and supported the growing pumpkins on slings hung from the side of the house.  It got local attention, and was even featured in Mother Earth News.
FazJaxton5 years ago
Great idea!  Well executed and well written!
bruc33ef5 years ago
 Very good!  

Covering walls with vines is a great way to increase insulation, too. Supposedly it reflects up to 70% of the sun's rays in summer and prevents up to 30% of heat loss in winter.  It also prevents structural materials from UV damage.  There are buildings in Europe that have been preserved for many hundreds of years by being covered with vines.  I'd be careful with vines right up against wooden walls, but you could certainly back them off a few inches and still get the insulative benefits.