Vertical Herb Garden

Our DIY Vertical Garden Planter

My husband and I have been renting for the last three years. In the past we have struggled with developing and maintaining a garden that both suits our needs and complies with the condo board's rules and regulations. As outlined in our lease, we are not allowed to drill holes into the structure, i.e. the brick walls of the condo or our wood deck. There will be no hanging planters or flower boxes at this house, which is a real drag considering our deck is so tiny and abysmal in appearance. As a result, I have had to get creative with how we approach gardening.

Our initial condo garden attempts involved a series of pots and flower boxes, all of which sat on the floor of the deck as we couldn't hang them anywhere. This created unnecessary clutter and made the deck space look kind of garish and student-y. I swore that this year would be different. I didn't care how we'd do it, all I knew is that I wanted that damn collection of herbs and flowers up off the deck floor and into something more visually appealing and functional. We managed to plant all the flowers into a large planter to match our Fuji shrub, but that left the herb boxes unattended to. We couldn't leave them by the door, it wasn't practical and it wasn't helping our problem with clutter. That's when an idea struck me and the first "Husband & Wife Project" was born!

 How we made our vertical garden planter

The idea for this planter came about when I was out for a walk with my mum. I spotted an old storm door at the curbside with a "free" sign taped to the front of it. I knew at an instant that I had to have it. I figured I'd use it in the garden as a kind of shabby chic decor item but I wasn't sure how I would incorporate my plants. I mulled it over for a few days and I finally figured out a way to combine the herb box and the storm door as one functional piece.

The construction seems simple but it took a lot of trial and error! We screwed up the table at least twice before getting it just right.

We began by repairing any damage done to the door. The moldings had broken in several areas and there were a handful of holes and scratches that needed to be filled with woody putty. We also removed the hardware and the screen frames (but kept them for future use). We removed and threw out the old mesh screen. After allowing the putty to cure for a 24 hour period, I sanded the door using an orbital and detail sander. The small spindles and moldings were sanded by hand.

Next, we focused on creating a custom made half table to attach to the front of the door. The table is not only decorative, it allows the planter to stand upright without it tipping over. This was the most visually appealing and practical way to have the door standing upright, and it utilized the least amount of space. Our first attempts involved screwing the table together, but after trial and error we resorted to using dowels, glue and clamps - it takes longer but it's 100% worth the hassle.

The table is constructed out of a pine plank cut down to size, and two wooden stairway spindles. I had to cut the spindles down a little, and we used a spade drill bit to sink them into the table top. We allowed the table ample drying time and I puttied any dents or scratches that had occurred along the way.

We painted all of the components separately using Behr's all in one paint and primer (exterior/interior) paint, in the colour Roulette. I've used this paint on a dresser and it worked perfectly, but for whatever reason with this project it took THREE coats and it still was too thin. Eventually we gave up and settled for the washed look, in person you can see wood grain and knots but as my husband notes it only adds to the shabby chic aesthetic!

Once we let the paint cure we assembled the planter, first by inserting a cut piece of ½" galvanized garden fencing into the top screen frame. We screwed the locking mechanisms back in place. Then we attached the table to the front of the door, ensuring that it was level. Finally I hung several tin pots from the screen using ball chain (s-hooks would've been preferable but they weren't big enough for the pots' handles).


We are ecstatic with our new vertical garden planter. I'm happy that I'm no longer tripping over the old herb box, we can get to our herbs quickly and easily, and with the addition of a handful of flowers the herb garden is bright and fun! It makes our deck space more inviting.

I want to note that although sites like Pinterest make re-purposing and DIY projects look super cool it's important to remember that by no means are these projects cheap or easy! Our vertical planter has probably cost us in the neighborhood of $200 CAD. We are very fortunate to already own most of the tools, like the drill and bits, scroll saw and wood putty. We did have to purchase a new orbital sander, a set of clamps, and a dowel peg set. The fact that we got the storm door for free was a huge bonus. I hesitate to imagine what it would've cost otherwise. Sometimes it helps to do some budgeting before you endeavor to try something out, otherwise you may have found that you've bitten off more than you can chew!

Best wishes,

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