In Which I Lay Out the Plan for my Garden Wall

The unadorned, blank wall--you can see the indented portion on the left

The unadorned, blank wall–you can see the indented portion on the left

What crazy weather we have been having here in the Midwest!  Over twelve inches of snow in 24 hours in Valparaiso, Indiana, while here in Chicago, we got a mere dusting.

I can’t say that I am disappointed that we received the short end of the stick this time, as I am more than ready for spring.

Just a few more weeks…

Scale drawing of my 14 ft long North patio wall--I'm not going to win any awards on drawing style!

Scale drawing of my 14 ft long North patio wall–I’m not going to win any awards on drawing style!


I have spent a few quiet hours drawing out the plan for the blank North wall of my patio.  I have no formal education in doing so, and my artistic skills are lacking, as you can see.

I have been drawing up gardens plans like this for over 15 years, mostly for big, extensive mixed beds.  The purpose of the plan (for me) is not to create an artistic masterpiece; it is to see how the size of the plants will fit into the allotted space, so all of the plans I draw up are to scale.

Front view of plan on graph paper, with discs and wires shown for trellis system

Front view of plan on graph paper, with discs and wires shown for trellis system

I also try to add the colors of the flowers into the drawings, so that I can see how the colors will look together.

In my last blog, I chose the plants I want this year, focusing on some food plants and some plants for fragrance.

The main edible plant I want to grow on the patio is a runner bean, Tenderstar.  The flower on a Tenderstar runner bean plant is scarlet red with light pink.

Runner beans require some type of support to grow on, such as a trellis.

In my plan, I chose two wooden planters, approximately three feet long and twelve inches wide.  These will have to be purchased in the next month or so.

Top view of plan

Top view of plan

Unfinished wood is a good choice for containers that will house anything you plan to eat, since there is no plastic or painted finish or lead to leach into your food crop.

I chose the three feet length due to a small jog in the garden wall—the first 39 inches of wall are indented almost 2 inches relative to the rest of the wall.

A three-foot long planter will sit nicely in the spot, and can be mirrored on the opposite end of the wall to create symmetry.

Centered in between the wooden planters, I have placed a 24-inch square black plastic planter for ‘Julia Child’, a beautiful, fragrant yellow rose.

This pot will need to be purchased, too.  I am choosing plastic because I want to keep the rose for a number of years, so the pot must withstand winter outdoors.

I will probably end up buying a slightly smaller size than 24 inches, so I will most likely have more room in the middle than my scale drawing suggests.


Top view of my plan on graph paper

Top view of my plan on graph paper

In the spaces created between the wooden planters and the rose, I have placed a 12-inch square black plastic pot and a 12-inch galvanized metal bucket on either side.

I have the 2 black plastic pots and the 2 metal buckets already, so that is one less cost.

The black pots will be filled with four o-clocks, and one bucket will be filled with nasturtium, the other, with sweetpeas.  The four o-clocks are sunset colors, the nasturtiums are creamy yellow, and the sweetpeas are bright red.

The end effect is of a bright, hot-colored garden.  Unfortunately, the warm colors tend to make a space look smaller (sigh).

Compared to my last garden, with its’ mix of trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs, this garden looks a little gaudy/garish and unsophisticated to my eyes.  However, I’m ok with it!  I can always go with more perennials next year—this is my time to experiment and have fun.

I am planning to buy a wire trellis system from Lee Valley Tools at The trellis system is inexpensive, and consists of discs that are glued into place with marine adhesive, rather than screwed into the surface (in my case, brick).

Wires are then drawn through the discs, creating a trellis that is unobtrusive visually, and can be pried off later with no damage to the wall surface.

I read the reviews, and the system seems to work well for most applications, with the worst criticism being that after a year or two, some of the discs become loose and must be re-glued.  Knowing this beforehand, I can plan ahead and be sure to check each spring and re-glue as necessary.

Since the patio is small, the unobtrusive quality of this trellis system appeals to me, as anything heavier looking may add to a claustrophobic feeling when on the patio.

Hopefully, I can get my better half to help in spring with the trellis installation.  I want to trellis the areas above both of the wooden planters, with a single wire drawn across the middle of the wall, to frame the rose, if the runner beans will cooperate.

And that, my friends, is my first plan for the North patio wall.  As I purchase pots and supplies, I will post pictures and list prices.  I will have pictures of the installation of the wire trellis system, and of the seed-starting process.  Also, on my next blog post, I will plan out my window boxes, and show the minimalist plan I have made for the East garden wall, which I was not going to do this year, but I accidentally planned it a little 🙂

 No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn—Hal Borland


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