UF Hack: Pocket Gardens

Only a few basic sewing skills are needed to build a portable hanging garden out of geotextiles.

by Lynsey Grosfield
PHOTO: Charleston's TheDigital/Flickr

Vertical gardens, hanging gardens and living walls are all the rage right now, and making a green wall outdoors or indoors isn’t as complicated as it seems. I’m not terribly handy with a sewing machine, but I know enough to sew a straight line—that’s the only skill you will need for this DIY pocket-garden project.

To create a pocket garden, most gardeners use various forms of geotextiles. Basically, these are durable—yet permeable—textiles that can withstand the barrages of water, temperature fluctuations and UV radiation. From landscaping fabric to grow bags, geotextiles are part of most urban garden projects in some form or another. Geotextiles have traditionally been made from polypropylene or polyester, but recycled, upcycled and organic (decomposing) options are also coming to market. They can be easily purchased online or at a garden center.

pocket garden
erin williamson/Flickr

Although this project is best made with a geotextile, it can also be attempted with recycled fabrics, so long as they are durable and non-toxic. To create a pocket garden, you’ll need to sew pouches for holding soil onto a sturdy backing. The pouches should be deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots of the plants you want to grow, but not so wide that they topple over because they get too top-heavy.

For a pocket garden destined to live outside, the backing can be the same material as the pouches. For an indoor pocket garden, the backing and bottom of the pouches should be impervious to water to prevent water damage to indoor surfaces. Either way, the pouches should be breathable but not so permeable that they drip immediately after watering. Lining them with an absorbent material can also help them remain moisture and conserve water.

Anywhere you put it, a fabric pocket garden is versatile and space-efficient, and once the plant life fills in, it can resemble a lush green wall. It’s an easy project for an afternoon’s work and can be customized to house everything from indoor tropical house plants to kitchen herbs to vegetables.

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