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 17 cm terracotta pots. Supporting the shelves I used some L brackets – 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.
You can check out the measurements I used (above), hopefully it saves you some time.
Oil vs Paint
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 No.1), then I rushed the job (mistake No.2) 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, check it out in the picture below.
A little support
Next step was to screw the brackets to the brick wall. I used a 6mm masonry bit, two to be exact – half way through drilling holes I managed to snap the first one. It’s still embedded about an inch in the wall. I also used some 5mm plastic spaghetti and some 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 (see below).
Get it together
Now for the fun part. I attached the shelves with some 18mm screws, added a packer between the bracket and the shelf where necessary to get them perfectly horizontal, and dropped in the pots.
I still haven’t quite decided what to plant in the pots – any suggestions?
What’s the damage?
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!
Here’s what I used:
5mm plastic spaghetti
6mm masonry bit
235 x 19mm x 1.8m Premium Grade Dressed Pine x 5
150x175x25x6mm angle brackets x 6
17 cm terracotta pot x 30
Great job @Darren, many thanks for sharing. I'm sure this project will inspire others. Hopefully it will also save some Workshop members from making the same mistakes!
I assume you are planning on using some of the pots to plant some herbs?
Not sure - we've got plenty of herbs growing in our upcycled fruit crates, so was thinking of something green and glossy that would cascade over the sides of the pots. Any suggestions?
One suggestion: see if you can get some trailing rosemary. Looks fantastic cascading down over masonry.
I'd also look at things like lettuces, chillis, and plenty of flowers.
Wow that looks fantastic @Darren! I have the same opinion with vertical gardens - they look great but something a bit more creative and different can look even better! I've been wanting to get an old wooden ladder and use the rungs to hang pots like you have. Yet to find the time to have a go though! - Thanks for sharing!
Some suggestions for flowers: geraniums, clivia, lavender, star jasmine, daisies.
This is the best looking vertical bed I think I've seen and it's inspired me to give something like that a go. Terracotta is fantastic to start seeds off as well, as it keeps warm after the sun's gone down, but they do tend to dry out quickly for the same reason. I could see a simple watering system working here and a spray of water would really add to the effect on a warm evening. Strawberries and chives would be fantastic; they have shallow roots and it's nice to reach over from the deck and pick them fresh for brekkie. I also love the fact that snails would have trouble pestering your plants. Nice job!
Looks fantastic @Darren.
I do have a small concern though. Timber being what it is, and the mounting brackets placed where you have them, particularly with the pots gaining weight with dirt/plants/water, those boards will slowly warp over time and sag at the ends. For a few dollars more for 10 extra brackets, I would put another bracket at each end of the boards and it will stay looking a top job for a whole lot longer.