Are you vertically challenged when it comes to gardening? Although not a new concept, vertical gardening is stronger than ever in American gardens. Whether you’ve got a back yard with lots of space or just a balcony or small patio, you can easily add a climbing plant and a trellis or obelisk for seasons of color and enjoyment.

Mandevlla on obelisk

Use obelisks to raise beauty to new heights in your garden.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Peas on a obelisk

Grow your peas in a pot on an obelisk to make the most of limited garden space.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Unadorned obelisk

Wrought iron obelisks can be so pretty and structural that you might be tempted to leave them unadorned in your garden.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Black-eyed Susan

With its gorgeous flowers, black-eyed Susan vine looks great climbing a teepee, trellis or obelisk.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

I admit it – I’m addicted to this form of gardening. It’s common for me to use obelisks and shepherd hooks in my beds and planters to create focal points of height. I like to look up and into my plants and flowers, and I think it adds excitement to my otherwise flat garden spaces. And did I mention the architectural interest these garden supports can add?

With so many styles of obelisks, trellises and shepherd hooks to choose from, how do you decide? Wooden structures, like trellises, should be selected for their durability. If you want to grow a wisteria vine on a trellis, make sure you select a material known for its longevity and durability, like Northern white cedar. A visit to your local garden center should provide plenty of options. If you’re looking for something unique or out-of-the-ordinary, do an online search. With so many styles and materials available, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Obelisks crafted from wrought iron (my personal preference) will provide years of enjoyment and use. Whether free-standing or used in planters, they come in a variety of heights and styles. Some of these beauties are so decorative that you’ll be tempted to leave them unadorned in the garden!

Don’t forget the shepherd hooks, which can serve double duty in the garden year-round. During the growing seasons, use them for hanging baskets. I do a slight summer twist on this idea – my double shepherd hook holds a double-tiered basket on one arm and a hanging bird bath on the other. After summer, don’t be too hasty to store your shepherd hook away for winter. Simply move it closer to a window and hang bird feeders from it. Now you can get up close and personal with winter birds.

Not sure what plants to use on your obelisks or trellises? Anything that vines, twines or twirls can be used. Not sure what to plant? You can always check with the staff at your favorite garden center – and don’t forget to look at the plant tags. Remember, you can use annual, perennial and woody vines!

Here are some plants for consideration. When you think of annuals, think of sweet peas in the spring garden or summer’s morning glories wrapped around a wrought iron obelisk. For edible vertical gardening, consider pole beans or peas on trellises and obelisks for added interest in the vegetable garden. If you’re a bit of a romanticist, pair a climbing rose with a cedar trellis – it’s truly a match made in heaven. For me, I enjoy beautiful columns of mandevillas

growing by my front doors – what a way to come home every night!

So, if you’re short on space or just looking to raise your garden or planters to a new level, trellises and obelisks can create more interest in your gardening spaces. Give it a try! That way no one will be able to accuse you of being vertically challenged!