March 2015
Goodbye Fence, Hello Garden By Abby Kleckler

TV personality and landscape designer Jamie Durie recently sat down with Lawn & Garden Retailer to explain why vertical gardens are no longer just for commercial buildings and high-end homes; they are perfect for your customers' backyards.

Jamie Durie took a break from shooting (see him on HGTV’s The Outdoor Room) for the U.S. debut of his Signature Collection at AmericasMart in Atlanta. While he was there, Lawn & Garden Retailer had a chance to talk to him about all things landscape design.

Photo Credit: Tonya McCahon Photo Credit: Nick Bowers

In the following Q&A, Durie discusses the advantages of vertical gardening, how to add edibles and tips to make your garden center a one-stop shop for interested consumers.

L&GR: Why is vertical gardening such a hot topic?

Jamie Durie: Spaces are getting smaller. We’re living in the age of the ever-shrinking backyard, so the whole idea of the vertical garden is clever. The idea is essentially to take the growing plane off the ground and up onto the vertical walls. Why look at an ugly fence when you can look at a vertical garden? Mums [Moms, his “Australian-speak” slips out right away] are just crazy about decorating, and they want to decorate not just the inside of their house but the outside. My whole theory is to take all that decoration out into the landscape. I call it “luxscaping” and a vertical garden does just that.

L&GR: What do people need to know before getting started?

Durie: You can create a vertical garden in any Zone. You just swap out the species. If you live in an area where you’re under snow for five months of the year, you need a frost-tolerant solution. It really is just like planting any other garden; you’re just taking it up onto the wall. The first thing you look at is how much sun the area gets. Is it morning sun or afternoon sun? Is it naturally direct sunlight? In most cases you’ll need a minimum of four hours a day to get a thriving vertical garden. And if you’re getting the hot, Western sun or the afternoon sun, you need to think about more hardy plants. If you have someplace that only gets three or four hours of sun in the morning, then obviously you want a more tropical arrangement.

L&GR: In your newest book – “Jamie Durie’s Edible Garden Design: Delicious Designs from the Ground Up” – you talk about coupling vertical gardening and edibles. Why is this important?

Durie: Generation X and Y are design savvy and they’re used to gidgets and gadgets and solutions that help make life easier. That’s what a vertical garden does: It helps make life easier. Instead of looking at that ugly fence, you can produce more food in your own backyard. Why can’t your backyard be your food bay? Hybrid tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, chives, oregano, basil, cilantro, peppers — you name it. There’s a plant out there to give you every shape, habit, architecture and color you want; you just have to look at edible plants through a designer’s eyes.

Generation X and Y are far more focused on natural, organic, back to grassroots and heirloom varieties. Edible gardening is not just a phase; it’s a return to the way grandma used to do it.

L&GR: How should garden centers set their customers up for vertical gardening success?

Durie: Many vertical gardens now have a democratic design. They are for everyone. Ladders, shelving systems and hanging plants don’t cost much money. Or offer a total system that doesn’t break the bank. Our 6-foot-by-6-foot vertical garden [shown] is basically a picnic blanket with a series of staggered bags attached to it made out of PET, which is recycled plastic bottles. It’s environmentally friendly and it’s free draining, which plants love. It holds nutrients, holds the silt in place and allows oxygen through, so it’s a perfect growing medium. It has a 4-millimeter drip line. You can also sell 22 plants with each 6-foot system in your garden center!

Create a vertical garden as a green magnet to pull people to the front of the store. Empower the customers to feel like they’re the creative ones and you’re just giving them the tools.

To learn more about Jamie Durie, visit

TV personality and landscape designer Jamie Durie explains why vertical gardens are no longer just for commercial buildings and high-end homes.

Abby Kleckler

Abby is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected]


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