Gardening Everywhere Except the Ground Planting Your Roof, Walls and Other Unconventional Spaces

Gardening Everywhere Except the Ground
  • Posted April 4, 2014

Plant life and architecture are becoming increasingly intertwined. From green roofs to living walls, the spaces we inhabit are more alive than ever. Short of a major home renovation, the concept is easily incorporated in smaller, but no less interesting, garden projects.

hanging baskets

Hanging Gardens

Many plants prefer to grow down, not up. The key to draping your home in foliage is getting the roots off the ground.

Hanging baskets—commonly available and easy to install—are the perfect hardware to get started. Drive an eye hook into your eaves or any overhanging structure and plant a fuchsia to attract hummingbirds; trailing lantana for butterflies; and strawberries or cherry tomatoes for the family to enjoy. Exposed to the wind and out of the reach of rainfall, the pots will dry out fast, so check the soil daily and keep evenly moist.


Shelves Full of Succulents

Succulents are tiny, tough plants with big architectural flair. They hardly need soil or water, as craggy cliffs are their usual domain. Slow-growing and tidy in all seasons, succulents are like decorations for the home.

4-inch pots will keep most succulents happy for years. Set them on shelves against a garden wall, along a deck railing or on a patio table as a living centerpiece. They often look best as a medley of species, rather than a single specimen. Combine three or four in one pot with complimentary shapes and color tones.

Plant low-spreading Sedums under the stalks of gawking Aeoniums and throw in a few stout clumps of Echevaria or Sempervivum. To really wow your guests, seek out succulents like Lithops and Euphorbia, which appear to have originated on alien planets. Plant them in a lightweight potting mix and top with sand or small pebbles to complete the artistic arrangement.

garden in bathtub

Plants in Strange Places

If conventional pots and planters seem boring, get creative and come up with your own. As long as it holds soil, it can house your favorite plants. Just remember, drainage is critical—drill several half-inch holes in the bottom, if needed. If you have an unused birdhouse, fill it with soil and pop succulents into each of the holes. Kitchenware, birdbaths, statuary, and cinder blocks are other possibilities for building one-of-a-kind container gardens. Mount them on a wall; hang them from the roof, and try turning things sideways or upside down to invent new ways of populating your space with plants. 

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.

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Gardening Everywhere Except the Ground
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From kitchen to container garden

  • Tin Cans
  • Soup Ladles
  • Cut-off water bottles
  • Old pots & pans
  • Colorful colanders
  • Foil take out trays