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Optimize Your Garden Landscape: Vertical Gardening | Washington DC

Nov 8, 2013 | Gardens

Do you want to grow vegetables, but feel like you don’t have enough room? One popular option for people with limited space is vertical gardening. This garden landscape approach is often a low-maintenance way to grow a significant amount of produce.


Getting Started

First take a good look at your property and locate areas that get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. Also look for spaces that could benefit from vertical plants. For example, do you want more privacy? Vertical plants can be used to create a living privacy fence. Is there a utility pole or maybe a garage wall that you are tired of viewing?

Once you establish locations that will work, make a list of what you want to plant. Do you primarily want flowers? Vegetables? Both? Once you decide on locations and what to plant, you are ready to begin.


Structures and support

To ease into vertical gardening, whenever possible use existing structures like fences, trellises, or walls for your garden. As you become more accustomed to vertical gardening, you can build or buy structures for a more elaborate look.


Vegetables & Fruit

Plenty of vegetables thrive in a vertical garden environment. Natural climbers actually benefit from the increased air circulation. Excellent vegetable choices include: pole beans, lima beans, peas, tomatoes and cucumbers.

You can also grow squash, melon, and pumpkin, but their fruit will need some form of support as they grow to prevent them from breaking off.

Fruit trees – like dwarf apple trees- can be trained to grow in a horizontal plane next to a wall or fence. This method, known as espalier, creates a beautiful looking specimen that easily produces fruit in a limited space.



If you only want flowers, or want to add flowers to the mix, annual flowering vines that climb without becoming too heavy are your best choice.  A few of these are: black-eyed Susan vine. cardinal climber, moonflower. morning glory and scarlet runner bean.


Things to remember

Plants grown vertically are exposed to more wind and sun, so vertical gardens tend to dry out more quickly. You may have to water and fertilize more often than with a conventional garden. Also, tall plants cast shadows on smaller ones – so be sure to place shade-tolerant plants next to them.

Contact us today for more landscaping ideas.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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