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Maximize your space with vertical gardening
A vertical garden is shown from the book "Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces," by Rebecca Sweet and Susan Morrison. Long a staple in Europe, vertical gardening is blooming among U.S. landscapers, designers and home gardeners looking to transform skinny side yards, bitty balconies and cramped courtyards into living, breathing masterpieces.

Even if you have limited space, you shouldn’t let that stop you from exercising your green thumb.

If you have limited space for gardening, instead of looking down at the square footage on the ground, try taking a look up.

Long a staple in Europe, vertical gardening is blooming among U.S. landscapers, designers and home gardeners looking to transform skinny side yards, balconies and cramped courtyards.

"People are trying to maximize every square inch of their property, and more and more people have smaller properties or just a balcony or courtyard, but they still want to have a garden," says Rebecca Sweet, co-author with Susan Morrison of "Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces."

Vertical gardening is surprisingly beginner-friendly, and experts say supplies are cheap and easy to find.

One simple way of creating a vertical garden is by starting with plants that are known to climb or can easily be manipulated to grow in a certain direction. Honey suckle, wisteria and morning glories all have leaves and stems that will easily grow around a pole or trellis.

According to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, there are several varieties of climbing roses that will do well in this climate.

The America, Crimson Glory and Peace roses will all thrive in north Georgia and their arching stems will help them easily grow along walls or trellises, researchers say.

Creating living walls — fences, patio walls or other surfaces covered in plants, flowers, succulents, even fruits and vegetables — is one of the most popular vertical gardening techniques.

One way to do this is by using breathable fabric "pockets" that can be hung on a wall. Sweet suggests starting small by purchasing one pocket garden that will hold three or four plants. Hang it along a wall or fence that gets partial sun to avoid drying out the smaller amount of soil. "Instead of flowers, consider planting herbs or vegetables," Sweet says.

"Mixing trailing herbs like thyme and oregano with upright red and green lettuces will not only look great, but because your garden will be off the ground, you’ll have fewer problems with pests."

If going green is your thing, vertical gardening may be right up your ally. Turning an old metal filing cabinet into a planter is a cheap, environmentally friendly way to incorporate containers into a vertical garden.

In "Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home," author Amy Pennington instructs readers to remove the drawers and lay the filing cabinet on its back. Cut out three pieces of 2-by-4-inch lumber measured to the width of the filing cabinet and, using construction adhesive, glue one on each end and one in the center for structural support. You can drill locking and swiveling casters into the bottom corners to make the planter portable if you wish.

Then spray-paint the exterior with two coats of primer and two coats of a finish color and allow it to dry completely.

Fill it to the top with soil and flowers, or deep-rooted vegetables like tomatoes, kale or rhubarb.

Associated Press contributed to this story.