Heidi Strawn
December 7, 2010

Vertical garden technique

Courtesy MSU Extension Service/ Gary Bachman

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Window boxes placed on a stepladder-type stand is a verticle gardening technique that allows gardeners to water and harvest their plants without bending over.

Some gardeners depend on the popular urban farming concept of vertical gardening not only to save space but to allow greater accessibility to their plants. As the growing season winds down in many parts of the country, consider if physical limitations kept you this year from the garden tasks you once enjoyed. If so, now’s the time to make plans for next year’s garden setup. Use these ideas offered at the 2010 Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs, Miss., to kick off your garden planning.

Gardens for Bad Backs

Many gardeners with back pain have taken their fair share of ibuprofen and have spent considerable time with the heating pad. Gardeners with back problems can aim to eliminate pain by raising a garden off the ground using a bench with a stepladder design. Placing window boxes on the steps allows you to water and harvest crops without bending over.

Wheelchair-accessible Gardens

Gardeners using wheelchairs or scooters can implement a tabletop garden for a more accessible harvest. Grow vegetables or flowers in containers, and place the containers on a table at a height that allows you to wheel right up to your plants.

Gutter Gardens

Gutter gardens for growing leaf lettuce are designed to be accessible for gardeners at any height. Simply attach sections of plastic gutter to a wooden fence. The staff at the Fall Flower and Garden Fest adapted this garden technique from commercial hydroponic vegetable growers who need to control the amount of water to their gardens. 

Hay Bale Gardens

Sometimes raising a garden to an accessible level is as simple as giving it something to grow upon. A popular and simple vertical gardening medium is the hay bale. Lay a round bale of hay on its side and plant vegetables, such as lettuce or tomatoes, in the vertical side. This allows you to have easy accessibility from a standing or sitting position.

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