Not a lot of space? Go with a vertical garden!
Want more lettuce? Try this 4-foot-wide, 5-foot-tall movable vertical garden. Not only is this mobile planter a convenient method for growing healthy lettuce — it shows off different varieties beautifully.
Benefits of growing greens in a DIY vertical garden
Since it’s easy to wheel around, you can plant earlier in spring and move seedlings into the garage on cold nights, extending the growing season. And in summer heat, you can position the lettuce in cool afternoon shade (because most greens don’t like the hot, direct afternoon summer sun). Plus, the tiered planter keeps the harvest off the ground, where it stays slug- and snail-free.
What you’ll need
Gather up these materials to make your own vertical garden. Our example photo shows how one reader made her tiered garden, but you can use your imagination to customize it to fit your space.
- 2×4s for the frame
- 1×4s for the shelves
- Aluminum rain gutters with matching end caps (2 per gutter)
- Deck screws
- Exterior latex paint (optional)
- Landscape fabric
- Potting mix
- Lettuce and other greens
- Electric or cordless drill
How to make a DIY vertical garden
- Build a tiered structure out of the 2×4s to fit your space requirements and style. Using deck screws prevents the need to drill holes before screwing.
- Paint it if you like with exterior latex paint.
- Attach casters on the bottom of the frame if you wish for it to be moveable.
- Secure each aluminum rain gutter to a length of 1×4 wood with deck screws.
- Drill ½-inch drainage holes every 4 to 6 inches in the back side along the bottom of every trough.
- Before planting up the gutters, line the bottom with landscape fabric cut to fit the trough to prevent soil from washing out and to hold in extra moisture.
- To plant up your DIY vertical garden you can start your own seeds or plant existing greens purchased from the store.
Greens to try in your DIY vertical garden
If the thought of constructing a mobile frame is a little daunting, try one of these simple methods. Anchor the rain gutters to a 1×4 board, and fasten it directly to a fence or wall. An old step ladder can be repurposed as a tiered planter to hold shorter gutter lengths. Or hang the gutters on chains from an overhang or pair of posts.
An alternative to the aluminum rain gutter is a plastic wallpaper trough, which will need drainage holes drilled, but is a little deeper for bigger plant roots. Or for variability of size, go vertical with a row of inexpensive window boxes aligned one above the other.