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DIY Vertical Gardening for Food-Friendly Fences!

May 25, 2014
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I have always wanted to grow my own food from my very own garden. Now that my husband and I finally have a yard to call our own, I've been planning my planting for months.

One of the things I've always wanted to do is grow shallow container herbs and vegetables. And since we have a fence, we have some prime real estate that is just going to waste. Well, not anymore!

Today I'll walk you through the process I just completed in my own backyard: A DIY vertical garden made out of little planter boxes that I designed, constructed, spray painted, and attached to the fence. And if you ask the associate at the home improvement store where you buy your materials to cut your wood for you, the only real "tool" you need is a power drill!

Here's a comprehensive list of your supplies:

  • 6 Pressure-treated lumber fence boards, approximately 5/8" x 5" x 6 feet long: 
    1 per planter box, cut into the following pieces: 
    12 @24 ¼" long – these are the front and back slats, 2 per box 
    12 @ 7 1/8" long – these are the short sides, 2 per box
  • Power Drill with 2 Drill Bits for Drainage and Pilot Holes – I used 5/32 and 7/64 Drill Bits
  • Wood Glue
  • Exterior Wood Screws
  • Exterior Spray Paint
  • 6 Plastic Planter Bin Inserts for 24" window boxes
  • Potting Soil
  • Seeds and/or cuttings

Turn over your plastic planter bins and drill pilot holes in the bottom using the 5/32 drill bit.

Fill your bins with your potting soil and plant your selections according to their specific instructions.

Because it's a bit late in the planting season, I selected green leaf lettuce seeds that I planted in two of the boxes. According to the seed packet, I'll only have to wait about 28 days before I can start to "cut and come again" to my never-ending salad bowl...or, salad box!

I also planted onion bulbs in three of the boxes. I always seem to have everything on hand for dinner except a single onion and now, instead of going to the store at the last minute, I'll simply have to walk outside and grab one from the fence. How's that for fast food?

And for the final box, my favorite kitchen herb: Basil!

Give them a quick watering and place them in a sunny spot outside while you construct the boxes.

Apply wood glue to the edges of the boxes, with the two short sides lining up inside the longer boards.

Using the 7/64 drill bit, pre-drill pilot holes; I drilled three pilots per edge. Here's a closer shot of how the boards should line up and the pre-drilled pilot holes.

Countersink the wood screws into the pre-drilled holes. In other words, keep drilling them until they literally seem to sink into the wood. Because the boards have been pressure treated with chemicals (to protect them against the elements), the screws should sink in very easily.

Once you've completed all of the boxes, it's time to spray paint them in whatever color(s) you choose! I selected a glossy peacock blue and created my own tie-dyed purple by mixing the blue with a vibrant pink.

While they're drying, let me show you the sad, barren wasteland of my fence. The only thing growing on this bad boy is weeds!

Determine where you want to hang your boxes and drill them into the fence using the wood screws. I probably overdid it with six screws per box but keep in mind that the boxes need to support not only the weight of the planter but also the water when it rains or you water your plants.

I designed this box so that all you have to do is drop in the bin without having to screw it to anything; the edges of the bin will rest on top of the wooden frame. This also means that you can remove it whenever you like.

I alternated the color of my boxes to create a repeating blue/purple pattern down the line.

And by hanging them facing the south-west portion of my backyard, they're sure to get plenty of sunshine all summer long!

What types of sprouts and seedlings do you want to plant, and later taste, fresh from your fence?

Rheney Williams is a DIY crafter and gardener who writes about her DIY projects for Home Depot. Rheney has been keeping herself busy this spring with DIY garden projects at her Charleston, S.C., home. For a complete selection of drills available at Home Depot, including the one which Rheney used to create her vertical garden, you can visit Home Depot's power tools page.

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