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Outside the Box

Outside the Box
April 2014
Reach new heights with vertical gardens—living “paintings” for patios, porches, or outdoor rooms  

Whether you’ve got limited space in your yard or simply want to fill a bare wall, fence, or gate, vertical gardening is the way to grow.

Start by noting the conditions for the space you’d like to fill (sunlight, exposure, and accessibility) and how you’d like your vertical garden to look and function. Panel kits, which can be found at most local garden stores, make it easy. Plant them with annual color to brighten up an area, or choose a collection of ferns for spaces with low light. You could also fill a panel with fresh herbs and place it by an outdoor bar for a cocktail garden—the options are endless.

For this four-paneled project, we chose  low-maintenance but graphically interesting succulents. When selecting plants, consider how they will relate visually to one another as they grow. Begin with a large design element. We used red-tipped flapjack to unify the panels. Low-growing stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ and ‘Blue Spruce’) fill the background, while Aeonium ‘Kiwi,’ with its hot pink leaves, adds a splash of color and compliments the rose-toned painted echeveria. The pencil-thin branches of firestick plant offer some texture, enhancing the three-dimensional quality of this succulent polyptych.

Planting & Care Tips:
■ Don’t plant the sides if you’re hanging the panels together as one large piece.
■ Allow new plantings to grow in the panels horizontally for three to four weeks before hanging. This will give them time to secure themselves in their new soil.
■ Gently water monthly from the top of the panel. Prune succulents to keep in scale and feed them with liquid fish emulsion.