Small spaces—such as balconies, porches and tiny yards—lend themselves to vertical gardens. Instead of planting out, plant up to allow for a wider variety of flora. Vertical, green gardens not only utilize small spaces, they do so in an environmentally-sound way. Some recycled items that can be used to create your vertical garden include tires, old chandeliers and Styrofoam boxes.
Start by purchasing an old candelabra-style chandelier from a garage sale, consignment shop or flea market. The chandelier should contain sizable candle bases. Decorate your candelabra by priming it and painting it using an exterior paint with a rust inhibitor. For a shabby chic look, do not use a primer. This will allow the old paint to eventually show through the new paint. Once dry, begin caulking terra cotta or clay pots onto the candelabra bases. Be sure the pots are slightly larger than the bases. A polyurethane caulk works best for its adherence to porous substrates, such as terra cotta and clay. Place small pebbles into the pots, about 1/3 of the way up the pot. This allows for ample drainage. Place your favorite plants inside, and hang your candelabra on the ceiling of your porch or balcony.
Another cheap option for upcycling your small space is to re-use old tires as wall planters. Purchase used tires at a junk yard or tire shop for around $5 to $10 a piece. Remove grime and grease from them using a tire degreaser. Use heavy duty paint, specifically for rubber, to add color and whimsy. Allow the paint to dry before hanging your tire onto your fence or outdoor wall using a six-inch J-hook wall mount. You will now have a pocket you can fill with soil. Feel free to drill a few holes at the bottom of the tire for drainage, if you live in an area where it rains frequently. Place hanging plants or herbs inside your tire planters.
Many recycling businesses do not take polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, as it proves difficult and expensive to break down. Re-use old polystyrene boxes by turning them into foam wall planters. Polystyrene boxes with lids can be found in the fresh meat section of any grocery store. Cut a piece of landscapers’ waterproof fabric to fit inside the box, to ensure your box is waterproof. Using foam glue, found at any craft store, glue the lid onto the box. With a utility knife, cut out a hole at the top of the box, so that an inch and a half is left on all four sides of the box. You will use this hole to water your plants, and fill the planter with dirt. Next, cut out 2.5-inch in diameter holes along one side of the box, from the top to the bottom of that side. This is the planter side of the box. Be sure to place holes in the landscapers’ fabric where your planter holes have been cut. You will end up with between five and ten holes, depending on the size of the box. At the top corners of the back of the box that will face the wall, place two small half-inch holes. Use anchor screws to hang the planter onto the wall. Begin filling the planter with soil until you get to the first set of holes at the bottom planter side of the box. Place your plants in, root first, and press them into place. Continue filling until you get to the second set of holes. Again, place your plants in root first, and press them firmly in place. Continue until you’ve filled each hole. Water and enjoy. Because of the health hazards that might be associated with polystyrene, do not plant edible plants in these planters.