Vertical Gardening

Short on garden space? Want to create a beautiful and budget-friendly outdoor feature? Love plants, but you’re seeking something low-maintenance? For these reasons and more, vertical gardening is for you.

Join us for a round-up of three how-to guides to building hanging or vertical gardens from three of our best-selling titles, and say hello to what may swiftly become your very favorite way to bring color, beauty, and lush plant life to your home.

A Vertical Wall Planter from 5-Gallon Bucket Book

Homeowners or renters with petite space or limited sunlight will appreciate the popularity of this vertical wall planter, especially as it requires few tools and can easily be customized to fit your home. A hanging planter can be placed virtually anywhere: on fences, outside windows, along privacy walls, and even from a rafter or ceiling. Start with one food-safe 5-gallon bucket and see where your creativity takes you.

*Plus, who says wall planters are only for flowers? Add veggies to the mix: carrots, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes, and more will all thrive in a vertical five-gallon bucket planter.

A 5-gallon vertical wall planter. Photo: 5-Gallon Bucket Book
A 5-gallon vertical wall planter. Photo: 5-Gallon Bucket Book

What You’ll Need


  • Sharpie
  • Cordless drill and bits
  • Jigsaw or utility knife


  • 5-gal. bucket without lid
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Heavy-gauge wire
  • Heavy-duty landscape fabric
  • ¼×3″ flathead wood screw

How to Make a Hanging Planter

  1. Use the Sharpie to mark a cut line that runs from the top edge behind the handles on both sides, down to the midpoint of the bucket on each side, and horizontally across the surface of the bucket.

5-gallon bucket book diy hanging wall planter

  1. Drill an access hole and then cut along the cut line with a jigsaw. Work slowly to avoid any significant deviations from the line, but don’t worry about small errors, because they won’t affect the planter in the long run. Sand the cut edges smooth.
  2. Drill a random pattern of 10 to 15 holes ⁵⁄₆₄” in diameter in the bottom of the bucket. Drill 3 holes ¼” in diameter, spaced evenly along the top back edge of the planter about 1″ down from the top.

5-gallon bucket book hanging wall planter

  1. Use the bucket as a template to cut a circle of heavy-duty landscaping fabric. If hanging from a cyclone fence, use heavy-gauge wire threaded in and out of the holes in the planter’s back edge and interwoven with the fence. Loop each end of the wire around the length threaded through the holes and twist it to secure the planter. For a solid surface, use a flat washer with a ¼×3″ flathead wood screw, and drive the screw into a support such as a fence post or a wall stud.
  1. Line the bottom of the planter with the landscaping fabric, and fill with potting soil. Add plants and water thoroughly.


Build a Garden Tower from 101 Organic Gardening Hacks

Not only do garden towers add vertical appeal to spaces large and small, they’re also stellar for hiding ugly fences or outdoor appliances (clunky power boxes included!). Consider trailing vines and spilling flowers like nasturtiums, petunias, or morning glories, or climbing fruits and vegetables like snap peas.

*Bonus: this simple vertical garden project requires virtually no tools and allows for plenty of customization—try a single tower or join two towers together to form a pyramid (you won’t need the tall stake if you create the pyramid).

101 organic gardening hacks build a diy garden tower
Garden tower and garden pyramid. Photo: Shawna Coronado

What You’ll Need

  • Garden containers of various sizes, from large to small (the author has used six containers in one photo, and seven in another)
  • Organic soil
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Suggested plants for this garden hack include: sweet potato vine, petunia, euphorbia, begonia, chocolate mint, coleus, kale, and torenia
  • Tall stake

How to Make a Garden Tower

  1. Your design’s location can be on soil or a solid surface, but it needs to be very flat and level. Because of its height, this container tower could lean against a fence or wall, which will offer it additional protection from heavy winds.
  2. Position the largest garden container on the bottom to function as the foundation.
  3. Fill this container with organic planting soil. Do not overfill; leave 2 inches of room at the top of the container so that the medium garden container will fit inside the larger container.
  4. Insert a tall, thin garden stake in the soil, then feed the next largest container onto the garden stake by threading the stake through its drainage hole.
  5. Position this container to center it so that the tower does not begin to lean to one side or the other.
  6. Repeat the process, feeding each container onto the stake using their drainage holes until all the containers are evenly filled and stacked. Leave 1½ inches of open space at the top of the container.
  7. Plant the garden containers with your favorite plants for the growing conditions, add organic fertilizer as you plant. Keep in mind the size the plants will be at full growth in order to prevent overplanting.
  8. Water well.


Make a Bookshelf Fence Garden from Grow a Living Wall

For many a DIY-er, there’s a sweet spot where do-it-yourself overlaps with upcycling or repurposing materials. In this bookshelf fence, multiple goals are achieved: any repurposed bookshelf will do, and the quirky design works both outside in the garden and in the home. Tip: growing plants with broad leaves gives the illusion of a plant wall rather than a shelf, and gardeners can include personal items among their plants for a unique touch to their living “wall.”

repurposed bookshelf turned into a garden shelf on a fence
Plants used for the project pictured include begonias of various types, ‘Bull’s Blood’ beets, and sweet potato vine. Photo: Shawna Coronado

You Will Need

  • An old bookshelf
  • Extra wood or 2 × 4s
  • Handsaw
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Drill/driver and bits
  • Screws appropriate for wall type
  • Paint or stain
  • Small potting containers that will fit on your bookshelf
  • Container soil
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Plants

How to Make a Bookshelf Fence Garden

  1. Measure your wall to determine bookshelf placement.
  2. Measure for support wood installation by measuring and marking the wall just below the spot where the top of the bookshelf will rest.
  3. Cut the wood to length for the cleat.
  4. Screw the wood cleat into the fence or wall, using a level on the wall as a reference.
  5. Predrill a hole slightly smaller than the screw used along the top edge of the bookshelf into the cleat.

101 organic gardening hacks bookshelf vertical garden

  1. Secure the bookshelf onto the cleat using the predrilled holes as guides for placement.
  2. Paint or stain the support wood to blend in with the bookshelf.101 organic gardening hacks mix soil8. Mix container soil with organic fertilizer and fill the soil in each planting container.

101 organic gardening hacks container plants

  1. Plant one plant into each small container, watering well. Arrange plants on the bookshelf with other tchotchkes in a decorative display.

101 organic gardening hacks bookshelf vertical garden

5-Gallon Bucket Book

Five-gallon buckets are ubiquitous and cheap (indeed, they are often free). But did you know they can also be hacked, hot-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY projects for homeowners, gardeners, small-scale farmers, and preppers?

5-Gallon Bucket Book contains 60+ ideas that put these humble and hard-working mainstays to work past their prime and keep them out of landfills. Simple step-by-step instructions, as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects, make sure you will have fun and love the results of your work.

Projects include perfect additions to your yard and garden, tools to care for your animals, useful innovations, handy home helpers, and even family-oriented designs!

They range from simple things like chicken feeders to much more complex projects (small room air conditioner, anyone?). For anyone who doesn’t already have fifteen of them cluttering up the garage, 5-Gallon Bucket Book also offers advice on where to get cheap and free buckets, and how to tell if a bucket is safe to use for food.

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101 Organic Gardening Hacks

Create simple solutions for growing organic gardens! The word “hack” has a multitude of meanings these days, but if you ask garden author Shawna Coronado what a hack is, she might just wave her hand toward her own back yard. She could be pointing at the garden bench she created from leftover wood posts and a few cinder blocks, or the rows of wine bottles buried soldier-style along a winding pathway, or even the garden soil itself, which is blended by hand from an organic soil recipe she devised. A hack is really just a great idea that’s come to life.

In 101 Organic Garden Hacks you’ll find the top tips, tricks, and solutions Shawna has dreamed up in her career as one of America’s most creative gardeners. Some are practical timesavers; others offer clever ways to “upcycle” everyday items in your garden. One characteristic every hack shares is that they are completely organic and unfailingly environmentally friendly. Divided into a dozen different categories for easy reference, each hack is accompanied by a clear photo that shows you exactly how to complete it. If you are looking for resourceful ways to improve your garden and promote green living values right at home, you’ll love paging through this fascinating, eye-catching book.

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Grow a Living Wall

Sometimes called “Green Walls” or “Vertical Gardens,” living walls are easier than ever to plan and grow! Grow a Living Wall is the first wall-gardening book to focus exclusively on the needs of home gardeners. Make your vertical garden environmentally friendly and sustainable. It’s easy with author Shawna Coronado’s help! One of her themed vertical gardens is stocked mostly with flowers to make it a haven for bees and other pollinators. Other gardens are filled with vegetables and herbs so anyone with an outdoor wall can grow their own food – beautifully!

Even more gardens promote aromatherapy or medicinal plants. Some are designed to provide a green net of air filtration near a living area, or to protect exterior walls from exposure to direct sunlight, which helps to keep the indoors cool.

In addition to the comprehensive, step-by-step information that explains the basics of vertical gardening, each of the 20 featured gardens has its own chapter filled with useful tips, stunning photography, and fascinating background stories that point out how much difference a small garden can make.

Like author Shawna herself, the gardens you’ll find in Grow a Living Wall are positive, life affirming, and sure to produce a smile or two.

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