How to Add Height to Your Garden

Jacki Kellum Garden 2022

I subscribe to the gardening principle that gardens should be layered, with taller plants in the back, medium-sized plants in front of those, and the shortest plants in front of the other two layers. The magazine Fine Gardening provided the following graphic to explain that tenet:

illustration of the different planting layers separated

Fine Gardening September and October Issue 2021

That being said, I do like to add other vertical features throughout my garden plantings, too. I like the way that these vertical spots add variety to what otherwise might become too much the same.

Better Homes and Gardens has a great online site that offers all sorts of garden tips and free garden plans. In regards to adding height in gardens, they comment about how one featured couple “… group attractive containers on a plant stand to make use of vertical growing space in their small Southern California garden. The effect has a big impact without taking up a lot of ground”

Jacki Kellum Garden

In the above photo, you see that I have staggered the heights of my containers by placing them on varying heights of other containers. I did not stick with this plan, but you do see how I had intended to create incremental heights with pots or containers.

Jacki Kellum Garden with Waterfall – 2022

Ultimately, I moved the waterfall away from the wall and created height around the waterfall/pond area in other ways. I used raised beds of incremental heights, and I also used tall plants at the focal point of the waterfall to add higher spots in my garden.

Better Homes and Gardens adds:

“Here’s a tip: You can do the same thing by displaying your favorite collections on vertical surfaces such as walls or fences.”

Jacki Kellum Second Story Wall Garden in 2020

Jacki Kellum Garden Wall Planting 2022

Jacki Kellum Garden Wall Planting Spring 2023

Jacki Kellum Garden Wall Planting August 2023

Jacki Kellum Garden Wall with Zepherine Drouhin Climbing Rose – 2022

Zepherine Drouhin Rose is a thorn-free and disease-free rose. Although it has no noticeable fragrance, I often use this rose to add height to various spots in my garden.

Jacki Kellum Garden 2022

In the above photo, you see that I have used a small water fountain to add height. I have used King Tut papyrus to increase the impact. King Tut is a papyrus and it is not an actual grass, but I do use grasses to add height to my garden, too.

Jacki Kellum Garden 2022

The lighter green grass is lemon grass, and the burgundy is purple fountain grass. The pink is an Arct Fox foxglove. It is much shorter than the regular foxglove which grows earlier in the season, but it is still taller than most garden plants, and I use taller plants to add height and variety in my garden, too.

If you look closely, you will see that lemon grass looks very much like the leaves or blades of daylilies. I grow daylilies both for that greenery and for their blossoms.

Siloam Double Classic Daylily in Jacki Kellum Garden

Jacki Kellum Garden

In the above photo, you see my cannas from behind. I plant cannas at the back of my garden. They create a natural wall against which to set the plants in front of it. I also have Russian sage, pineapple sage, and hollyhocks back here, but none of them are blooming now. Note: The greenery of plants is almost as valuable in the garden as the plants are after they have bloomed.

I grow clematis vines to add another source of height.

Jacki Kellum Garden 2022

Over and again. I will say that I am a true cottage gardener, and the cottage gardeners of old were peasants who had very small gardening spaces. Utilizing vertical spaces was essential to the success of peasant gardens.