Backyard Oasis: How To Make Your Own Vertical Garden — Apartment Therapy Submissions

Ready for your next weekend project? With summer slowly winding down, all I can think about is spending my evenings outdoor, whether in a friend’s backyard, a restaurant patio, or a city park. Patrick Davis, consultant by day, DIY carpenter by nights and weekends, has just the project to get your outdoor space ready for those early fall hangs. The best part? It only takes up a few square feet!

Patrick was inspired by a project on the Dremel Weekends blog (which you can find here) and he added in battery-powered lanterns and gave his project a nice medium stain as a finishing touch.

Here’s Patrick:

Materials

  • Five 8′ lengths of 1″x4″ cedar planks
  • Two 8′ lengths of 1″x2″ cedar planks
  • Seven 8′ lengths of 1″x6″ cedar planks
  • 1-1/2″ wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Wood pre-conditioner
  • Wood stain of your choosing
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Three large foam brushes
  • Potting soil
  • Plants/herbs of your choosing

Tools

  • Circular Saw
  • Drill Driver
  • Angle or Miter

Step 1. Make your cuts. The two main components of the vertical garden are the planter boxes and the trellis which supports the boxes. Depending on the size and space you have available, you can modify your cut list to include more or fewer planter boxes and a larger or smaller trellis. For my vertical garden, I wanted five planter boxes of varied sizes evenly distributed on the trellis.

Here’s the cut list:

Trellis

  • (3) 8′ long 1″ x 4″ pieces (Frame)
  • (1) 57″ long 1″ x 4″ piece (Top Frame)
  • (1) 45″ long 1″ x 4″ piece (Bottom Frame)

Trellis Box Supports ( these will be mounted to your frame to support each planter box)

  • (1) 45″ long 1″ x 2″ piece
  • (1) 36″ long 1″ x 2″ piece
  • (1) 31″ long 1″ x 2″ piece
  • (1) 26″ long 1″ x 2″ piece
  • (1) 15″ long 1″ x 2″ piece

Planter Boxes

  • Box 1: (2) 46″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Top and Back), (1) 48″ long 1″ x 6″ piece (Front), and (2) 8″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Sides)
  • Box 2: (2) 37″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Top and Back), (1) 39″ long 1″ x 6″ piece (Front), and (2) 8″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Sides)
  • Box 3: (2) 32″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Top and Back), (1) 34″ long 1″ x 6″ piece (Front), and (2) 8″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Sides)
  • Box 4: (2) 27″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Top and Back), (1) 29″ long 1″ x 6″ piece (Front), and (2) 8″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Sides)
  • Box 5: (2) 16″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Top and Back), (1) 18″ long 1″ x 6″ piece (Front), and (2) 8″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces (Sides)

Candle Mounts

  • (4) 6″ long 1″ x 6″ pieces

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Step 2. Trim in your details. Using a miter or an angle you can add some subtle detail to a few of the pieces that will make the project look more finished.

Trellis Frame: Miter the edges of your 57″ long 1″ x 4″ piece (TOP FRAME) at a 45º angle.

Trellis Box Supports: Miter the edges of each of your box supports at a 45º angle.

Planter Boxes: Miter the SIDES of each of your boxes at a 70º angle.

Pro Tip: This is a good time to sand down all of your wood and take care of any blemishes.

Step 3. Construct your planter boxes. Using your wood glue, attach the top, bottom, front and sides of each of your planter boxes. Let these dry for an hour or so, and then use your wood screws to secure the front, back, and sides.

Once your boxes are assembled, use a large drill bit to drill several evenly spaced holes in the bottom of each planter box. These holes will allow the boxes to drain as needed when there is significant rain. You’ll probably need to re-sand a little bit at this point to take care of any rough edges from the holes.

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Step 4. Construct your trellis. Lay out the (3) 8′ long 1″ x 4″ pieces of the frame vertically and position the frame top and frame bottom. The middle 8′ long piece of your frame should be positioned with 15″ of space to the beginning of the next frame plank on one side and 19.5″ of space to the other side. Measure and attach the bottom and top pieces of the frame using your wood screws.

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Once you’ve constructed the frame, you can add your box supports. Space out your box supports evenly, noting that they will require roughly 15″ of vertical space between them to accommodate the planter boxes and the flowers or herbs you’ll eventually plant. How you arrange the box supports (and boxes) is entirely up to you!

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Step 5. Stain and finish

This is a great time to apply your wood pre-conditioner, wood stain, and polyurethane finish to the constructed trellis, each of the planter boxes, and your candle mounts. It will be much harder to do this once the whole vertical garden has been constructed because it’ll be too heavy and bulky to move around in between coats. For my vertical garden I used the Minwax Preconditioner, Minwax Early American Wood Stain, and Minwax Spar Urethane Finish. Use your foam brush to apply the pre-conditioner, let penetrate for five minutes, wipe clean, and then apply two coats of the wood stain of your choosing. After that, I’d recommend applying three coats of your Spar Urethane finish to ensure your vertical garden holds up well outside.

Step 6. Attach your planter boxes to the trellis. Position each of your planter boxes snugly on top of each of the box supports and attach the boxes to the trellis frame with your wood screws. Pick out a few good spots for your candle mounts and attach those to the trellis frame as well using your wood screws.

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Step 7. Affix your vertical garden to a support. Depending on where you want to position your vertical garden, you’ll need to find a way to secure it. I wanted the option to move my vertical garden at a later date, so I mounted a piece of scrap wood to a concrete wall and used eye hooks to secure the back of trellis to the wall. If you are comfortable with the position of your vertical garden being more permanent, go ahead and attached it directly to a wall or support with your wood screws.

Step 8. Add plants and candles. This is the fun part! I choose to plant a mix of vines, herbs, and flowers in my boxes (with the herbs planted in the lower boxes for easy reach). I also found some remote-operated and waterproof candles that give the vertical garden a really warm glow at night, and I positioned those on the candle mounts, and then attached them to the frame with an eye hook.

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

(Image credit: Patrick Bryce Davis)

Thank you, Patrick!

Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you’re making these days, and learning from our readers. When you’re ready, click here to submit your project and photos.

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