There are countless, non-conventional ways to garden that are very eco-friendly! Growing your own food is very environmentally friendly because it goes right from your backyard onto your plate instead of traveling thousands of miles from farm to a grocery store.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening uses less space, and is great for people with limited yard. Since it is upward, more plants can grow in the same amount of space as conventional gardening. Another benefit of vertical gardening is that it is easier to control pests and gives easier, more direct access to the plants. It is much more environmentally friendly since it requires less ground and less water to grow. 

                                                                   Photo credit: Christa Neu

                                                                   Photo credit: Christa Neu

There are many methods to vertical garden. Tower gardens allow closed-system recycling of nutrients and water. Trellises are another popular method of vertical gardening, and work best when they are 24 in. deep in the ground. Other common ways to grow vertically include pyramids, walls, fences, and wire structures. Have fun and get creative, but remember to make sure your structure is anchored in case of strong winds!

Food produce that grows particularly well vertically include tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, pole beans, gourds, melons, squash, and pumpkins!

For instructions on how to build your own vertical garden, see here.

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised bed gardens are above the ground in a structure anywhere from a few inches to a few feet. Raised beds allow the plants to be grown closer together so they create microclimates that preserve moisture and suppress weed growth naturally. They also give the benefit of an extended planting seasons and better growing conditions, like looser soil, better drainage, and better quality soil. 


A great way to maximize use from raised beds is to practice succession planting. This involves quickly replacing harvested crops with new ones. For example, warm-season crops like beans or squash can be replaced with cold-season crops like peas or spinach. 

Raised beds work best if their frame is built over a small trench for drainage. Sides of the bed can be made of rock, brick, concrete, and cedar wood. For more information and methods, please explore this website.

Companion Planting

This is a great method for any type of gardening and involves the use of certain plant combinations to benefit each other. Some examples include roses and chives (chives repel rose pests), tomatoes and cabbages (tomatoes repel cabbage pests), and nasturtiums and cucumbers (nasturtium's vines assist cucumber growth and repel pests). Tall plants also provide shade for light-sensitive plants.


For more ideas of companion planting, explore some ideas here.

Edible Schoolyard Project

Building and sharing a sustainable food curriculum for all schools.