Vertical Garden Update

As you might remember, back in early spring I built myself a vertical garden on the side of my garage. When I first unveiled it, the plants were pretty small and unimpressive. But over the last couple of months, they’ve really taken off, and I love it!

To jog your memory, here’s the side of the garage, before:

Here’s the vertical wall, right after I built it:

And here it is now:
DIY vertical garden

Big change, right? Clearly our grass is now in its dormant phase (aka completely unwatered unless it rains), but isn’t it crazy how different this wall looks?

vertical garden 2

I just love the interplay between the many different types of leaves and flowers.

DIY vertical gardenI kind of can’t believe how much the plants have grown without much attention. There are a few changes I’ve made, which I detail near the end of the post.

vertical garden 5

One of my favorite things about this project is how much the plants have surprised me. I love ferns, but for variety, I added other types of plants. And now some of the things that I mostly considered filler have become some of my favorites. I planted several different types of heuchera, and their flowers and foliage are just lovely.

DIY vertical garden

And look at this cute little flower. I planted this epimedium for its foliage, but it turns out to have pretty flowers, too.
DIY vertical garden

Even things that I didn’t even think had flowers, like black mondo grass, have produced a few.
DIY vertical garden

Since I put this up, I’ve made a few tweaks. The big one is that I added a drip irrigation system. It’s pretty unobtrusive, but if you look closely, it’s the black lines you can see running behind the plants. Even early in the summer I noticed that some of the ferns weren’t getting enough water, and I knew that it would be a real problem during the hotter days ahead. Using this starter kit, I had already put together a system for my raised vegetable garden, so I just extended it to my vertical garden. It makes it really easy to keep everything watered.

Another change is that I added some vines to the ground to grow up the trellises. I planted akebia plants with two different colors of flowers, so I’m looking forward to seeing them bloom (and possibly even produce fruit!). I also replaced two plants that died. They were both Corydalis flexuosa, and I assume that the conditions just didn’t quite suit them.

Aside from the two I just mentioned, everything else is doing well. Some of them, like the  creeping jenny (which I may need to prune to keep it from taking over), and the bleeding heart, have really exploded, while others, like some of the ferns, are slower growers. So I assume that this garden will continue to grow and change over the coming months and years, but even after only a few months, I’m loving its progress.

10 thoughts on “Vertical Garden Update

  1. Richard Snodgrass says:

    it’s beautiful. A vast improvement over a plain looking surface. Depth, and varying colors give it a certain sparkle. The contrasting colors are great also.

  2. Wow, thanks for posting the comparison shots! It really is amazing how much nicer it looks than the old bare wall, and the amount the the plants has grown is just incredible! Looks wonderful.

  3. Really incredible how much this has changed in such a short time. Nice you added the water system.

  4. It’s beautiful but, as much as I hate to say it: the moss coming up from the shingles on your roof, which is thriving even when the unwatered lawn is dormant, is a very serious threat to your house. It’s hard to admire that very beautiful vertical garden that has clearly taken dozens of hours of effort when the roof above it is literally shrieking “NOTICE ME! DON’T IGNORE ME! FIX ME! FIX ME RIGHT AWAY PLEASE!!!” I’m not a roofer wanting a job at all; I’m just someone who ended up paying almost a year’s worth of income to finally fix a roof that looked a lot like the one shown in your pictures. It was horribly painful and financially devastating. Yes we put it off… until the day when it was raining inside our kitchen and we actually had to drill holes in the ceiling to let the water out (better to let it drip into buckets than to risk having the entire ceiling come down). It’s OK not to have a stunning garden if all involved realize that a similar amount of time and effort directed at the roof could potentially save the entire house, and effectively prevent serious financial doom! *Not* a criticism, just a sincere hope that you’ll recognize a top priority and take action before your neglected roof ruins your life.

    • Thanks Chris, but that’s our detached garage, so I’m not too worried about it right now. Our house roof isn’t mossy, but it does need to be replaced soon, so we’ll do the garage when we do that next year. I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience with your roof! That sounds very traumatic.

      • That’s excellent news then! A garage roof isn’t a big deal, maybe you can even do that one yourself!

  5. My garage roof needs to be redone, and the cost will be 15 thousand or more. I am concerned that this beautiful vertical garden will bring mold to the walls of my garage, despite good paint on the surface. We are in the Pacific Northwest where there is lots of rain that will be held up against the wall.

    I LOVE what you did, but I am disappointed to conclude that I can’t do it here.

    My solution is to invent something else. I am going to find an old boat that is the right size and narrow and I will use IT as a planter placed about a foot from the wall of a shed I built on the side of my driveway. It will look GREAT with ferns and so on.

    • Toby, I’m in the Pacfic Northwest, too, in Portland. I’ve only had this up for a year, but so far mold hasn’t been a problem. There are spacers, so it’s not flat against the surface of the garage, and there’s a roof and gutters overhanging the wall. If anything, it’s TOO dry–I may have lost some plants by not watering over the winter. I thought they’d get enough water, but they stayed pretty dry.

      Your solution sounds great though! I’m all for recycling. Good luck!

  6. I think my problem is that my father built the garage over 50 years ago WITHOUT the gutter and overhang on the side of the garage in question. That makes sense. Thanks for writing. I plan to re-do the roof this summer, and when i do, I hope to put an overhang on that wall to prevent wall mold. In truth, without this conversation with you, I would not have realized that that is a situation to resolve. Once that is all in place, I may be able to put the decorations (ferms mostly) on the wall the way you did, and the boat below! So: Double thanks!

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