You don’t have to garden on a tiny balcony or live in a diminutive garden home to use the vertical gardening techniques that are so popular right now. Even gardeners with several acres likely have those tricky spaces that leave us scratching our heads—narrow side yards, spaces between fences and garages, entrances to gardens, and space-challenged courtyards all provide us with challenges that deserve some prior planning. These areas that have more vertical space than horizontal yardage can be as welcoming and beautiful as any other part of your garden, sometimes even more so!
There are many techniques for handling your vertical spaces effectively, and the following ideas can get you going in the right direction. Some of these suggestions stand on their own, while others can work together to create the perfect accent or feature for your particular space.
Trees and shrubs: There are a number of trees and shrubs that grow tall and narrow, filling those tight spaces. It’s important to choose a plant that is evergreen and has a strong structure, as these plants will be the year-round backbone of your space-challenged garden. Try Italian cypress, ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon holly, windmill palm and Japanese sky pencil holly. Even clumping bamboo (the non-invasive variety) can add a dramatic vertical accent.
Vines: Vines are great choices to disguise and soften fences and sides of buildings, in addition to draping over arbors and pergolas and climbing up on trellises. They can add a colorful and elegant feel to any garden. Be careful to choose the right vine for your structure—some vines twine while others cling or need to be tied to their support. Great vines to try are Confederate jasmine, Carolina Jessamine, trumpet vine and climbing roses.
Structures: There are so many garden structures that can add vertical interest to your garden space, whatever its size! Trellises and arbors are great for small, narrow areas, while larger pergolas work well for those with more square footage. Add climbing and twining vines to add a sense of drama and importance, and to put a finishing touch to your garden. Remember also to plant at the base of your structure if you need to disguise unsightly footings or brackets!