If you have a courtyard or balcony, you can still have a luscious garden – you just need to reach for the sky with a vertical garden. There’s a huge range of systems available, so you can be creative in your use of space and materials.

Choosing your system

From large pre-fabricated systems, PVC pipe or gutter gardens, to DIY recycled pallet or mulch bales, the options are endless. Some systems are freestanding and others are wall-mounted. A great place to start is a commercial segmented vertical garden system with a series of plastic pots that are clicked onto a backing board at various intervals.

Getting in position

Vertical gardens can be heavy when filled with potting mix and plants, so check the load-bearing capacity of your walls or balcony before you start. It can also be a good idea to assemble the garden in position, as they can be awkward to manoeuvre at a later date.

Selecting plants, top to bottom

Select plants to suit your position – full sun, part-shade or shade. Compact, low-growing plants with shallow root systems usually do best. Group plants with similar water and fertiliser requirements together, and remember, lots of vertical systems will be drier at the top and moister at the bottom.

In sunny spots, plant seasonal edibles like strawberries, tomatoes, baby beetroot and dwarf carrots; herbs like basil, oregano, parsley and thyme; or ornamentals like succulents and seasonal bloomers. Autumn is good planting time for cool season pansies and violas.

In more shady spots, try edibles like leafy greens, chives and mints; or ornamental bromeliads and other small indoor plants.

Garden maintenance

Always use good quality potting mix and remember to water often. Small pots and windy conditions can dry pots out quickly. Some vertical gardens are set up with irrigation systems, making them easy to water.


Want to know more? Come along to a City Farm workshop. Program topics include garden design, vertical gardens, gardening for renters, herb propagation, worm farming and more.

Belinda Thackeray is a horticulturist and educator with a passion for nurturing, productive and sustainable environments. Working as the City Farm project manager, Belinda is developing spaces and programs to connect urban people with agriculture. She spends her spare time at home growing an abundance of food for her family.

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