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Vertical gardening is a brilliant way to grow more food in less space and to add some structure and interest to your garden. Peas and beans benefit most from growing vertically, but you can also use similar structures for your cucumbers and some climbing squash.

There's a great video from Grow Veg, which gives a quick overview of the different approaches which I will include below and then I will show you the lazy way that we do it.


Why grow vertically?

Most plants that we normally grow vertically can also be left to sprawl on the ground, or naturally climb up other plants and over fences etc, but you need a lot of space for that and a high tolerance for disorder and potential failure. As a result most people take a more structured approach to their climbing plants, which I outline below.

Larger harvest

Larger harvests and more predictable results are the main reason to grow vertically and it definitely works, evidenced by the dozens of ways that people grow vertically.

Less damage from pests

Aside from the larger harvest, you also have less damage from pests. Leave beans and cucumbers on the ground and you will get a lot of damage from slugs and snails. Although snails will happily climb to the top of a 6' bean frame!

Avoid and provide shade

Vertical frames are a great way to avoid and provide shade. By growing vertically your peas and beans can avoid the shade of neighbouring plants and also provide much needed shade to lettuce and spinach (for example) in summer.

Wind break

An established frame of runner beans can provide an excellent wind-break, that will provide much needed shelter to less tolerant plants like tomatoes and even potatoes.


I love frames for the way they enhance the look of a garden, a bean frame covered with red flowers is such a joy to behold in summer!

The downside of growing vertically


Of course, while shade adds value in some cases, it can also cause problems. So be sure to plan your location so that the shade benefits plants like chard, spinach, lettuce and brassicas in summer. Avoid shading anything that likes full sun, like cucumbers, tomatoes, squash etc.

Wind damage