Talk to any garden designer and most will agree people focus too much attention on the ground and forget about the possibilities of vertical gardening.
“I certainly did when I started,” says Lalieth White, garden designer at Outside Contemporary Garden Design in Vancouver. “All I thought about were plants, weeds and terra firma.” And that’s a mistake, because vertical spaces provide a whole new gardening dimension and help make the most of every nook and cranny —especially for those working with tiny areas.
Gardening upward can also provide shade and privacy, create depth or intrigue, and even save your back by minimizing the need to stoop while you work. For small gardens, as opposed to patios or balconies, Jeffry de Jong, an instructor of horticulture at Olds College in Calgary and Olds, Alta., likes to position vertical elements away from walls and fences. “If you hug the perimeter, it only accentuates the smallness of the space,” he says. Instead, he suggests using a segment of trellis to create a freestanding wall somewhere in the garden. And by placing a container or two in front of the trellis, you can draw people to a seating area or a quiet, contemplative space.