Maximize Growing Space with a Vertical Veggie Garden

Use a trellis, netting, A-frames or an arbor to create a vertical garden that maximizes space and adds to your harvest.

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If you lack the room for a fuller garden or you just want to make gardening easier, try vertical gardening. Beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash all naturally climb. And did you know you can often choose bush or vine options when purchasing seeds or plants?

Vertical gardening reduces stooping so harvesting is much easier on the back. It’s also easier to spot ripe vegetables, especially green beans and peas that tend to blend in and hide under foliage. Cucumbers and squash can grow straighter and healthier away from soil where they’re more vulnerable to mold, slugs and soil-borne maladies.

Vertical gardening can be decorative, too, as vines wind up lamp poles, fencing or archways.

Here’s how to support vertical garden growth:

A-Frames

These wire structures take inspiration from a tent or A-frame cabin to provide a sturdy option for heavier plants, such as zucchini, cucumbers and other kinds of squash. You can buy these ready to set up or create your own DIY A-frame with wood plus netting or thin rope for vines to climb.

Trellis

These classic supports can coax climbing plants up a sunny wall of the house, patio or fence or alongside front steps and railings.

Depending on the weight of your materials and how deeply you can bury the footing, you may need to nail down or secure your trellis. If it tips over during storms with high winds, the plants will surely be damaged. Look for timeless fan shapes, lattice or more decorative swirls and scrolls in wood, PVC or metal.

Here are several Family Handyman-approved trellises:

Poles

Help vegetables or flowers climb an existing lamp, light pole or playset pole by wrapping the pole with flexible fabric netting or hardware cloth. Try a light-weight vegetable like blue lake pole beans, or something that’s decorative such as purple hyacinth bean or sweet pea flowers.

Obelisk

An obelisk trellis can stand alone and be the centerpiece of your garden. Mix purple and yellow wax pole beans with edible flowers, such as nasturtiums.

Archway and Arbors

An archway or arbor provides stronger support than a trellis while adding a visual element to your garden. These are ideal for heavy vegetables such as squash or cucumbers, or fruits such as grapes. When fruit hangs from the arbor beneath the leaves, it’s easier to spot and harvest.

Here are several Family Handyman-approved arbors and an arch:

Fencing

Let vegetables climb along a mesh or lattice fence, or string netting or rope vertically along fencing to allow plants to grab on and keep growing.

Natural Supports

Long before there were hardware stores, indigenous farmers developed the “Three Sisters” method of farming.

An early form of companion planting, it begins with planting corn. A week later, plant a few bean seeds below the corn. The beans climb the corn while helping anchor it during high winds. Planting squash around the beans helps keep the corn roots cool and discourages would-be bean thieves from perusing the vines.

Extra Supports

If plants are drooping or burdened as vegetables get heavy, add additional bamboo stakes and ties for extra support. Use a stretchy piece of recycled pantyhose stockings, twist-ties, zip ties, landscape clips or even hair clips to anchor stems to supports.

Be sure whatever you use is padded enough to protect tender shoots, stems or vines from damage.