If you live in a small urban space, you might think growing a kitchen-friendly herb garden is impossible. But it's not true! Have you ever thought about hanging herbs vertically? If you haven't, let me show you everything you need to know about a vertically-hanging herb garden. Indoor and outdoor spaces are perfect for this unique take on growing up instead of out – it's a great way to enjoy seasonal herbs even without a ton of space.
Vertical Hanging Herb Garden for Small Outdoor Spaces
While traditional plots and beds require a large horizontal area, growing upright can save you a ton of space. A vertical herb garden is easy to create and makes the best use of the room you do have. In addition to offering privacy from your neighbors, vertical gardens add greenery to soften an outdoor balcony or patio. As an added bonus, if you're planting herbs, the plants you grow will bring fresh flavor to your kitchen.
- Expandable metal clothes drying rack (a wood rack may not be sturdy enough)
- 8 to 12 standard 8-inch plastic garden pots
- Potting soil
- Your favorite herbs and flowers
- 8 to 12 metal "S" hooks (1.5 inches)
Steps to Making a Vertical Hanging Herb Garden
It's easier than ever to learn how to make a vertical herb garden, and if you're limited in space, it's the ideal solution. And you don't need extensive construction know-how skills or a ton of room to build this creative vertical hanging herb garden. By simply using a freestanding, expandable clothes drying rack, a bit of hardware, a few planters and the right garden tools, you can easily have your own vertical herb garden DIY project completed in no time at all.
Choose a location.
Most herbs prefer full sun in the morning and light shade in the afternoon. Place your expandable clothes drying rack where it will receive at least four hours of sunlight during the day. This could be on your patio, in a side yard or even by your front door. If you have a sunny window, you could even create a hanging indoor herb garden.
Prepare your garden pots.
Make sure each pot has a drainage hole in the bottom. This will help keep the herb's roots healthy all summer long. I like to place a small piece of burlap or even a shard of broken terra cotta over the drainage hole to keep soil from falling out of my pots and making a mess. If you plan on creating an indoor hanging herb garden, you can position it over a large boot tray filled with river stones to prevent the draining moisture from damaging your floor.
You'll also want to drill holes into each pot, so you can hang them from your expandable clothing rack. We used a Fiskars® hand drill, but if you want to skip this step you can look for pots that have a built-in lip that you can hang the "S" hooks from.
Plant your herbs.
Use a Fiskars® trowel to fill each pot about 3/4 of the way with potting mix. This handy tool allows you to easily scoop large amounts of planting mix into your pots without spills.
Carefully remove your herbs from the plastic packaging, making sure not to damage the root structure of the plants. Gently break up the root ball if it seems impacted at all. Don't worry if a few of the roots break when you squeeze the bottom portion of the dirt.
Place the herbs in your pots and pat down extra potting mix around your plants to remove any air pockets. You may need to add a bit more soil to create a level surface.
Now that your plants are all planted, make sure to give each a good drink of water.
Hang your plants
Using "S" hooks makes creating your own DIY hanging herb planters a snap. Wedge one side of an "S" hook firmly into the holes we drilled into our pots before planting or under the pot lip, then carefully hang the other side on the expandable rack's horizontal rod.
Vertical herb gardens give you plenty of room for multiple plants. You can usually place three pots across each rod, and a few more on the top. You can even place a few on the ground around your rack. The size of your clothes drying rack and pots will determine the how many plants you can place on your rack. Play around and create your own custom look. I like to mix it up by adding a few annuals, such as petunias and marigolds, in between my herbs as this attracts pollinators to the herb rack, increasing the health and life of my herbs.
Harvest Your Herbs
As your plants mature, keep a Fiskars® herb snips close by to harvest the herbs in your DIY vertical herb garden as you need them for cooking. Most herbs perform best if they are regularly pruned. In fact, pruning promotes more growth, so snip away for a long-lasting garden that provides fresh healthy additions to light summer meals all season long.
If you snip more than you can use, freeze your extra cuttings in olive oil, water or stock, or you can create interesting herb-butter compounds for a treat that lasts long after the last sun of summer sets and your plants themselves are done.
Best Herbs to Grow in a Vertical Garden
Herbs grow extremely well in containers. For 8-inch garden pots, I like to only plant one herb in each pot. Although they start out small, your plants will quickly fill your pots and fill in the gaps in your vertical herb garden. My favorite herbs for hanging herb gardens include:
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. You can find it in a wide variety of flavors, including peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint, chocolate mint and even pineapple mint. Avoid placing two different flavors close to each other – they'll start to taste like each other!
This staple of Italian cooking is a versatile, sun-loving, easy-to-grow herb. Basil prefers moist soil and does well if watered in the mornings. Harvest the leaves on a regular basis and remove any flower stalks that may shoot up. Once basil begins to flower, the leaves may become bitter.
Although difficult to grow from seed, young thyme transplants perform well in container gardens. This low-maintenance herb only requires regular pruning to stay thick and healthy. Thyme actually likes getting a bit dry in between watering.
Another woody herb, rosemary is low-maintenance, simple to grow and versatile in how you use it. Just grab a few stems and place them on your culinary creations on your way to the grill or before putting them in the oven. Or you can chop for soups, salads or garnish before serving. Rosemary is technically a shrub and can actually grow for years if you bring young plants inside during the winter months.
ChivesChives are always best fresh, so adding them to your herb garden makes perfect sense. Chives like damp soil and regular trimming. Their flowers make a lovely addition to your green salads and will attract bees and butterflies to your outdoor vertical herb garden.
The soft leaves of sage are a beautiful addition to any hanging herb garden. The leaves are best when harvested young. Frequent cuttings will keep the plant from becoming woody and less flavorful.
Many people don't think to add this summer flavor to their container herb gardens because it can grow rather tall and leggy. However, if you keep dill trimmed, the plant will stay full and feathery. Because of its height, I like to place dill near the top of my hanging herb garden so it doesn't grow into the plants above it.
Basic Herb Garden Tips
Growing a vertical herb garden is an easy, space-efficient way to enjoy herbs all summer long. If you're looking for extra tips on how to build a vertical herb garden that produces the most bountiful of herbs, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Use a good quality potting mix for your hanging herb garden DIY project instead of garden soil. Container-grown plants need good drainage to maintain healthy roots.
- Water the herbs in your DIY hanging herb garden just enough to keep the soil moist.
- The best times to water are in the early mornings or evenings. Try to water just the soil, not the leaves of the plants.
- Garden containers require more watering than traditional in-ground gardens.
- Most herbs grow best with constant pruning. So even if you don't need a bit of basil in the kitchen, give it a good trim anyway.
For a different take on the vertical garden, check out the article Vertical privacy wall!