A vertical herb garden can add inviting aromas to your outdoor space throughout the summer months and provide you with fresh ingredients for your culinary endeavors.
Because a vertical garden takes up relatively little usable space, it is perfect for apartment or condo living.
Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune to create your garden – in many cases, you can use items you find at yard sales, second-hand stores, or even in your own garage. With a free afternoon and a bit of creativity, you can build your own DIY vertical herb garden with little out-of-pocket expense. Here’s a guide to doing so.
How to build a DIY vertical herb garden
Build a frame
Build a frame from pallet wood. Pallets, which are used to warehouse and transport goods, make excellent frames for vertical gardens.
If there is a factory or other industrial business nearby, you can probably obtain pallets at no cost. Many businesses discard used pallets and even pay companies to haul them away, which means that taking them off a company’s hands saves the business money and keeps the pallets from ending up in landfills.
Preparing a used pallet involves little work – simply turn the pallet over and remove any exposed nails or broken slats from the underside. Standing a pallet on its end provides a solid vertical garden frame that will last for 10 years or longer.
Find durable, breathable cloth to serve as pouches for your vertical herb garden. Materials such as burlap work best for these gardens; however, any natural, loose-woven cloth will do.
If you don’t have a ready supply of cloth, haunt yard sales or visit the clearance section of your local sewing store to find material for pennies on the dollar. In a pinch, old bedsheets will work.
You will need sections of cloth as wide as your pallet and of sufficient length to create three or four pouches when doubled over.
Obtain drawer pulls or knobs from a second-hand store or yard sale. You will tie the pouches to this hardware to create your vertical garden. Decorative knobs and pulls add a bit of flair to your garden while providing a secure anchor for your pouches. If you can’t locate the necessary hardware, though, a handful of 3-inch wood screws will do the trick. You can decorate the ends of the screws with polymer clay, colorful buttons, or other enhancements to create visual interest.
Cut cloth sections to the width of the pallet and twice the desired depth of the pockets. Most herbs are shallow-root plants, which means that the pockets should have a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Sew the ends of the pockets to prevent soil from escaping and to help the soil retain moisture. Be sure to leave enough room to tie the top corners to the pallet anchors.
Secure the anchors to the pallet, making sure that the pouches won’t overlap. Ideally, there should be at least six to 12 vertical inches of space between each pouch. This configuration will ensure that your herbs have sufficient room to grow and obtain enough sunlight to thrive.
Fill the pouches
Fill the pouches with premium potting soil. If possible, obtain organic potting soil, which will provide your herbs with the nutrients needed for optimal growth. Adding an organic liquid fertilizer containing organic seaweed or fish emulsion will help optimize your chances of gardening success.
Be sure to fill each pouch with at least 12 inches of soil to give your plants plenty of room to grow and thrive.
Plant herbs in the potting soil. Depending on the types of herbs you choose, you should space them six to 12 inches apart to provide ample room for the herbs to obtain sunlight and water. Some herbs, such as sage, can grow quite large – give these herbs at least 24 inches of space.
Starter plants are more expensive than seeds; however, they are easier for novice gardeners to grow.
Position your vertical garden
Place your vertical garden in an area that provides sufficient sunlight. Many herbs are partial-shade plants; however, you should check the plant tags to ensure that your herbs have optimal growing conditions.
In many cases, locating your vertical garden in a patio area or next to a storage building will provide all the sunlight your plants need.
Water your herbs daily, particularly if you live in an arid climate. Sufficient moisture is necessary for herbs to thrive. Keep in mind, though, that the plants along the top of the pallet will dry out more quickly than those along the bottom. It is important to check the soil in each pouch daily to determine how much water is required.
A vertical herb garden will add color and visual interest to your outdoor space without taking up a significant amount of room. It can also save money you would spend on fresh herbs at the grocery. With a little practice and careful tending, your garden will provide a wealth of fresh herbs for years to come.