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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

The Ultimate Garden Tower Guide for Urban Gardeners and Small Space Enthusiasts

Garden towers are not only beautiful additions to a balcony or a backyard; they are a testament to the ingenuity of urban gardening, combining sustainability with efficient use of space.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about starting your own garden tower in your apartment, regardless of how green your thumb is currently.

My lettuce tower garden - on my porch

Understanding Your Garden Tower

Before you start sowing seeds, it's crucial to understand what a garden tower is and why it's an excellent tool for urban spaces.

The Garden Tower Concept

Designed for small spaces, a garden tower is a vertical gardening system that allows plants to grow upwards. It takes up minimal floor area while maximizing the number of plants you can grow in a single structure.

Unlike traditional raised beds, garden towers can be as compact as a few square feet but can house a surprising variety of plants. These tower gardens are placed outdoors and are good for balconies, backyards, or patios.

I recently grew lettuce on a small area on my porch area in a tower garden. It is truly amazing how much you can harvest from a tower garden.

The Benefits of Going Vertical

Vertical gardening is more than a space-saving trend; it's a practical way to grow a lot with a little.

By stacking plants, you benefit from improved air circulation and reduced instances of pests and diseases. Vertical gardening also presents a beautiful aesthetic, transforming walls and blank spaces into living, breathing art.

I found it easier to harvest from a vertical garden than from the ground or a container. I could swivel the tower around to access what I needed, and the height of the tower garden made it easier to reach everything.

A Tower Garden is artistic and beautiful. It was a joy to see those greens sprouting from the sections.

Selecting the Right Tower for Your Space

When choosing a garden tower, consider the size of the available space, the amount of sunlight, and the type of plants you want to grow.

Vertical gardening options range from wall-hanging planters to free-standing towers. For apartment balconies, compact and mobile designs are ideal, while larger models can suit communal rooftop gardens.

Setting Up Your Garden Tower

With the right garden tower chosen, it’s time to set it up. This section breaks down the process step-by-step.

Step-by-Step Assembly

Unpack your tower and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Typically, the assembly involves stacking planting compartments, securing them, and ensuring the structure is stable.

Preparing for Planting

Before your tower is ready for plants, you need to prepare the soil. Urban gardeners often use a mix of compost and potting soil for the best growth.

Ensure the tower is placed where it will receive adequate sunlight throughout the day, and consider the wind patterns of your space, as this will impact the watering needs of your tower.

Plant Selection and Placement

Knowing what to plant in your garden tower is just as important as how to plant it.

Best Plants for Small Spaces

When space is at a premium, choose plants that grow upwards and don’t spread too wide. Some apartment favorites include:

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Lettuce

  • Herbs

  • Strawberries

Certain flower varieties also thrive in vertical spaces, adding color and charm to your tower garden.

Flowers that work in a tower garden include:

  • Petunias,

  • Marigolds,

  • Pansies

Tower gardening tiered strategy

To make the most of your tower's height, consider planting cascading plants at the top and those that thrive in sunlight on the sun-facing side.

Middle tiers can hold some of your larger produce, while lower levels are perfect for those veggies you need to keep a closer eye on, like peppers and cucumbers.

Tower Maintenance and Care

Even a small garden requires attention. This section provides essential tips to keep your tower and plants healthy.

Watering Your Tower Garden

One of the most frequent tasks you’ll perform is watering. It’s vital not to over or under water your tower. Water from the top of the tower and allow it to trickle down, soaking the soil around the roots without becoming waterlogged. Keep a close eye on your plants for signs of dehydration and adjust your watering schedule as necessary.

Feeding Your Plants

Plants in a tower often have limited access to nutrients, especially if your soil mix isn’t particularly rich.

Be sure to fertilize your garden regularly, following the instructions on the packaging to ensure that you're providing the right balance of nutrients for your specific plant types.

To maintain optimal growth, it's generally recommended to fertilize every two weeks. However, it's wise to research your specific plants and consider their unique needs.

Pest and Disease Management

Check your tower frequently for pests and signs of disease which, if detected early, can be easily managed.

Rotate companion plants to decrease the likelihood of disease spreading and consider natural remedies before reaching for chemical solutions. Natural remedies such as neem oil, garlic spray, and diatomaceous earth are effective in controlling many common garden pests.

Maximizing Space Efficiency

Make the most of every square inch with these strategies to optimize your vertical garden.

Utilizing Vertical Space

Because space is at a premium, don't waste an inch. Hang additional pots from wall brackets, secure trays to the sides of your tower, and consider adding trellises to support climbing plants that may not fit within the tower's structure.

Companion Planting

The concept of companion planting can radically improve your garden's health and yield. Certain plants can deter pests from other species, while some combinations mutual benefit each other. For example, planting marigolds near your tomatoes could help keep nematodes away.


How can I make the most of my limited gardening space?

By utilizing vertical space, you can maximize the number of plants growing in a small area. Consider hanging pots or securing trays to the sides of your tower.

What is companion planting and how can it benefit my garden?

Companion planting involves strategically planting certain species together in order to improve overall plant health and yield. Some combinations can also help deter pests from damaging your crops.

Can you provide an example of companion planting?

One common example is planting marigolds near tomatoes, as marigolds are known to repel nematodes which can be harmful to tomato plants. Additionally, planting beans near corn can benefit both plants as the beans provide nitrogen to the soil while the corn provides support for the bean vines to climb.

How often should I water my tower garden?

The frequency of watering will depend on various factors such as weather, plant type, and tower size. Generally, you should aim to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. As a general rule of thumb, check the soil daily and water when it feels dry to the touch.

Can I grow herbs in my tower garden?

Yes, most herbs can be grown successfully in a tower garden. Some popular options include basil, thyme, rosemary, and mint. Just make sure to choose varieties that are suitable for your climate and tower size. Also, be mindful of the different watering and lighting requirements for each herb.

Do I need to use fertilizer in my Tower garden?

Yes, it is recommended to fertilize your Tower Garden every 2 weeks, but the frequency may vary depending on specific plant needs and growth stages.

How do I control pests in my tower garden?

There are several natural ways to control pests in your tower garden, such as companion planting, using beneficial insects like ladybugs or praying mantis, and regularly inspecting plants for signs of infestation. You can also make homemade pest sprays using ingredients like garlic, pepper, and soap. If necessary, you can also use organic pesticides specifically labeled for use in edible gardens.

Do I need to prune my tower garden plants?

Pruning is not necessary for all plants grown in a tower garden. However, some plants like tomatoes and peppers may benefit from pruning to promote better growth and fruit production. It's best to research the specific pruning needs of each plant before making any cuts.

Can I grow herbs in my tower garden?

Yes, herbs are perfect for growing in a tower garden! They require minimal space and can add fresh flavors to your meals. Some popular herbs that do well in tower gardens include basil, mint, parsley, and rosemary. Make sure to research the individual care needs of each herb for best results.

How often should I water my tower garden?

The frequency of watering your tower garden will depend on several factors such as the type of plants, weather conditions, and size of your tower garden. It's important to regularly check the moisture levels of the soil and make sure it doesn't dry out completely. Generally, most tower gardens require watering 2-3 times a week, but this may vary. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your plants are receiving enough water for healthy growth.



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