Compared with say, Manhattan, we really don’t have a whole lot of gardens you might describe as urban in the Southwest. For the most part we are a land of suburban gardens and sprawling one-story homes. I even have one client with a plot of ranch land that stretches out—Texas style—for many square miles.
However, it is true that as land prices have risen, lots (and gardens!) have shrunk. Additionally, to fit the most square footage possible on an individual lot, new houses tend to be two stories tall.
For a garden designer this creates a few challenges. The areas I’m working in are often like narrow canyons or small courtyards, with limited sun. These new yards are not wide enough to accommodate many of the plants (particularly trees) that I typically like to use in gardens. Since height is usually not a problem, one excellent solution is to grow things vertically.
Here are three of my favorite techniques for growing things vertically in urban spaces:
- Incorporate pot shelves in walls. This makes the wall more interesting and lets you have a garden with almost no footprint.
- Make a green screen with trellises and vines. This is another way to make a vertical surface multitextured and cool. Some of my favorite vines include yellow orchid vine (Callaeum macropterum) and tangerine beauty crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’).
- Train shrubs to grow upright. Using a couple of methods, you can make a shrub fit in a narrow space. Wrap the shrub with monofilament fishing line; or make a cage for it (something like a tomato cage).
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