Gardening? Think Vertical

The Early Show, garden designer P. Allen Smith shows how you can make your own trellis CBS/The Early Show

Gardening on the vertical is a great option for people with limited space or for anyone who wants to brighten a patio or privacy fence.

On Tuesday's The Early Show, garden designer P. Allen Smith shows how you can make your own trellis and offer tips to keep hanging plants from drying out.

Vertical gardening doesn't have to mean tending an elaborate arbor, and it can be much more creative than simply hanging a basket of flowers from the eaves. Vertical gardening can bring a new focal point to a tired flowerbed, invite a big piece of nature to a concrete patio area or bland deck and add interest to a blank wall or privacy fence. By utilizing vertical space, you can bring a lot of beauty to a very small space.

Triange/Garden Trellis
A triangular shaped trellis is very easy to do. You can pick three separate trellis pieces at a garden center and tie them up with wire. You can paint your trellis green and top it with an ornament. The whole project will cost you approximately, $30.

You can place this trellis in a container or, as Smith prefers, directly in the garden. Just as you do any time you buy plants, you need to consider how much sunlight your trellis will receive and choose an appropriate vine. Pots tend to constrain plants some; when they have the freedom and space allowed by a trellis they grow faster and will require frequent pruning. Also, many nurseries now sell vines that have been nurtured in a greenhouse and are already quite tall. When you bring them home, you simply need to gently weave them in and out of your trellis.

Rustic Trellis
This is another easy to make trellis. Just bind together skinned, flexible tree limbs with a few wood screws and some heavy copper wire. Place this trellis in a large clay pot. Of course the height of the trellis will determine how big a pot you need.

The general rule is that the trellis itself must be set into the dirt at least 10 to 12 inches. Smith recommends using jute twine to attach vines to the trellis. The natural fibers won't harm the plant and the twine is practically invisible.

Common plants to use are wisteria and clematis flowering vines. But you may also have some flowers planted around the base of the trellis to offer contrast. Attention-grabbing colors such as blues and chartruse are suggested.

Hanging Basket/Pots
The basket, commonly called a hay basket because many people choose to line it with hay or wheat grass, is becoming a popular garden element, according to Smith. He chooses to line the baskets with moss. If you soak the moss in a large bucket of water and pack it very tightly into the basket, you won't need to line it with plastic.

One common mistake people make when filling the baskets is putting in too much dirt. Leave at least one inch between the dirt and the basket top so there's plenty of room to soak plants in water.

The big concern with plants hung on a fence or wall is that they tend to dry out quickly. Thus, location is key. Smith suggests trying to hang them in a spot that receives only morning sunshine. The hot afternoon sun can be a killer - literally. Most importantly, hang plants somewhere where you see them all the time (and won't forget to water them) and where they are easy to water.

Mixing water-retentive polymers into the plant's soil is also a smart move. These look like rock salt and can be purchased at any garden center. Put them in your container and they attract moisture; they grow to seven times their size and wind up looking like blobs of clear jello. Finally, there are some plants that handle dry conditions better than others, specifically, purple fan from Australia and petunias.

One thing to keep in mind when hanging these pots and baskets is the surface behind the plants. Constant moisture and plant growth can stain your fence or wall. If this is a concern, attach a piece of plastic to the wall before hanging plants.
  • Tatiana Morales

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