Vertical Garden or Living Wall

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If you’re short on space in your backyard, patio or balcony, but yearn to have more greenery and colorful foliage, build a vertical garden. Not only are they space-saving, but they are versatile in that you can move them wherever you want to allow the plants to get as much sunlight as needed. You can even mount them to a wall to create a “living wall” effect.

A vertical garden adds color and greenery while saving space.

A vertical garden adds color and greenery while saving space. (Matthew Ashman)

Gather the SuppliesTo complete this project, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Pallet
  • Sandpaper (medium grit)
  • Paint tray
  • Paint tray liners, 2
  • 1 quart exterior paint primer
  • 1 quart exterior water-based paint
  • 3-inch paint roller
  • 3-inch semi-smooth paint roller covers with 3/8-inch nap, 2
  • Polypropylene landscape fabric, 1 roll
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Scissors
  • Plants
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • L-brackets (optional)

Note: When obtaining a pallet, make sure to read the label and check for the symbol HT, which means it was heat-treated and safe for gardening use. Do not use pallets that are labeled MB, which means it was treated with methyl bromide and is potentially toxic.

Gather the supplies.

Gather the supplies. (Matthew Ashman)

Prime the PalletBefore adding the primer, clean off the back of the pallet — the side with the wider openings in between each of the slats — using sandpaper to get rid of any grease or grime. To remove most of the rough texture and make the pallet smoother, use a coarser grit sandpaper. Pour some primer into a lined paint tray. Apply the primer using the paint roller to all surfaces that will show. Wait for the first coat to dry; then apply a second coat. Allow the primer to dry, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Apply the primer.

Apply the primer. (Matthew Ashman)

Paint the PalletReplace the liner in the paint tray and pour some paint into the tray. Replace the paint roller cover and paint the same surfaces to which you applied the primer. Allow the paint to thoroughly dry.

Paint the pallet.

Paint the pallet. (Matthew Ashman)

Cut the Landscape FabricYou’ll need to cut a fabric piece to create a basket in each opening of the pallet. Pallets vary in size, so you’ll need to determine how much fabric is necessary to create each basket in the pallet. Measure the length, width and depth as shown. Double all of the measurements. Add the length and depth measurements together. Add the width and depth measurements together. Cut out the polypropylene landscape fabric according to these measurements.

For example: Let’s say you have a length of 6 inches, a width of 10 inches and a depth of 4 inches. You would double the length to get 12 inches, double the width to get 20 inches and double the depth to get 8 inches. You would then add the length and depth to get 20 inches and add the width and depth to get 28 inches. Then, you’d cut your fabric to be 20 inches by 28 inches. In this project, there are six baskets, so six 20-by-28-inch fabric pieces were cut.

Measure how much polypropylene fabric to cut.

Measure how much polypropylene fabric to cut. (Matthew Ashman)

Create the Top Baskets in the PalletStart by making the top two baskets. Lay the fabric flush inside one edge of the pallet and staple it along the top edge of the wood. Secure with a staple about every 2 inches. Continue stapling the black fabric around the corner to the other side, forming a basket with the fabric. Keep the edges as flush as possible and staple every 2 inches. You may have to fold over certain parts to keep a clean look or even trim off some of the black fabric.

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