Garden inspiration: Byron’s vertical garden


DIY and how-to

A smiling man holds a potted plant of spekboom.

To add a bit more greenery to his space, Stodels customer Byron has come up with a smart plan for a vertical garden in his Cape Town City Bowl home’s backyard. A steel structure, which has been mounted against a striking turquoise-coloured wall, has been an inspiration to friends and family – and continues to delight Byron, who considers himself an enthusiastic urban gardener. 

Byron’s green fingers can be traced back to his grandmother, who loved to potter around in the garden on their family estate in Johannesburg. As a young boy, he watched her at work and, decades later, discovered that he enjoyed gardening as much as she did. 

The seed for Byron’s vertical garden structure was planted about a year ago when he started investigating ideas to block his view of his neighbour’s unsightly roof. “I knew I wanted to create something vertical, so I spent some time on Pinterest looking at different ideas.” 

Small-space gardening on balconies, in courtyards, and in pots and containers has become a worldwide trend, so Byron was able to find lots of inspirational pictures and ideas online. 

While browsing, images of spekboom grabbed his attention and Byron decided to use this pocket-friendly “eco-warrior” to form the base of his vertical garden a grid-like steel structure that provides support for rows and rows of terracotta pots. 

In selecting other plants, Byron focused on choosing varieties that would not only survive in pots, but also thrive in this windy part of the Western Cape. “Going the indigenous route was also important,” he says. “I spend time with the dogs on the mountain twice a day and wanted to bring the fynbos of the region into my backyard.”

The structure took Byron a week to design and measure up. “I met an amazing guy who does steelwork down at the Cape Town docks. I showed him my drawings and, surprisingly, he understood my madness. It took him a month to create all three panels for me.”

Byron chose to work with a steel frame for aesthetic reasons. “I thought that, once the structure starts to rust, it would provide this rustic, aged look filled with personality. Also, rust, terracotta and interesting plants pretty much go with any colour. I love the blue of my walls, but that could easily change.”

Byron’s vertical gardening tips:

In creating his vertical garden, Byron discovered a few clever tricks that he’s willing to share: 

  • Invest in a solid structure, but save money by propagating succulent cuttings and planting them out into different pots.
  • Allow your vertical garden to evolve over time. If something doesn’t work, get professional advice from your local Stodels garden expert.
  • Reuse grey water from your household to water the plants in your vertical garden.
  • Use the bottom row of pots as an oasis for your pets. For example, add real grass to give your dogs and cats something to chew on.

Looking to create your own vertical garden? Call one of our experts for a personal garden consultation to discuss plants and styles suited to your space.