I like vertical gardens. Problem is I don’t particularly like the plastic ones that are everywhere at the moment, and I can’t afford to pay someone to build me one. So I decided to make my own – here’s how I did it, screw ups (there were plenty) and all.
This wall is at the rear of our house, it’s part of an extension built sometime during the 80s. Since we recently built a new deck, we’re spending more time outside and this plain wall has become a bit of an eyesore. It needed something.
Originally I wanted to use reinforced mesh for the structure – it looks great and it’s durable. But then I realised that I can’t weld, and gaffer tape and cable ties aren’t exactly rock solid, so mesh was out.
Timber, however, is a different story. I ended up settling on a simple design – some shelves with 17cm terracotta pots. I used L brackets to support the shelves – these ones came in a nice satin black, which ties in perfectly with our fascia, guttering and window frames.
‘Measure twice, cut once’, they say. I tried that but I still messed it up. Turns out the pot that I was basing my measurements on was a slightly different diameter to the bulk lot of pots (30 in all) that I bought. So, the 30 holes I cut with the jigsaw? Wrong. All wrong. I ended up having to make them all a bit bigger to accommodate the slightly larger pots. Lesson learnt.
So I started re-cutting the holes. It was at this point that I snapped my one and only jigsaw blade while re-cutting the first hole. No back up blade? Yep, another rookie mistake. I’m now an expert with a jigsaw and I have a big packet of blades so I’ll never run out mid-way through a job again.
Recently I oiled our deck and it turned out pretty good (just don’t mention the drips down the side). So I figured I’d oil the shelves – what could go wrong? Plenty.
First, I bought a cheap brush (mistake number one), then I rushed the job (mistake number two) and ended up with drips and some areas darker than others. It looked bad. I knew it looked bad because when I asked my wife what she thought she just kind of nodded, smiled and walked off. Never a good sign.
So to cover my gaffe I undercoated with an oil-based undercoat then carefully applied two coats of satin black paint with a roller. An expensive roller. The finish was much better.
Next step was to screw the brackets to the brick wall. I used a 6mm masonry bit, two to be exact – halfway through drilling holes I managed to snap the first one. It’s still embedded about an inch into the wall. I also used 5mm plastic spaghetti and 75mm screws.
The trickiest part here was getting the brackets lined up in a straight line. To do this I clamped a couple of stakes either side of the first L bracket to ensure the one above it was held securely in place while I drilled the holes.
Now for the fun part. I attached the shelves with 18mm screws, added a packer between the bracket and the shelf where necessary to get them perfectly horizontal, and dropped in the pots.
All up it cost around $200 (plants will cost more and I already had the paint). It took me a couple of days to build, but no doubt you could do it much quicker by avoiding the mistakes I made.
5mm plastic spaghetti
6mm masonry bit
235 x 19mm x 1.8m Premium Grade Dressed Pine x 5
150 x 175 x 25 x 6mm angle brackets x 6
17 cm terracotta pot x 30
I have been experimenting with different plants due to the position of the garden. As it's under the eaves I want to make sure that what I plant will survive in this space. So far we have some small Yucca Elephantipes in the centre row, Lomandra 'Lime Tuff' above the yuccas and Lomandra longifolia 'Little Con' below. For the very top and bottom row I'm planning to plant agave attenuatas – I'm just searching for some the right size.
Before and after
More vertical garden projects
Workshop member kel built three vertical gardens along her fence so she just has to turn on a tap and the whole garden is watered by a rainwater tank.