Design Trend: Growing a Garden on Shelves (Indoors or outdoors)

March 13, 2024

A couple of months back, I was chatting with a new garden friend when she openly wondered what the next big garden trend would be.  I must admit — while I look for design trends all the time…I hadn’t thought much about the big arcs of our collective garden-specific tastes.  It is fair to say that vertical gardening isn’t the new kid on the block anymore.  It’s here to stay, but you can’t be new forever.  So what next?

Shelved gardens of geraniums by rochelle greayer
In this small garden in West Hollywood California, there isn’t much space for potted plants. Like the Auricula theaters of formal English Gardens, a shelving unit can be used display and frame a collection of plants to but it can also create a planted garden wall. (like a vertical garden) Small pots (in this case, a variety of orchids, succulents, and geraniums) can be arranged to create a pleasing vertical garden – without having to deal with the construction and moisture concerns of built-in planted walls.

I think that the answer to her question might be a twist on the idea of vertical gardens — Shelved Gardens or gardens that are stacked and arranged in much the same way we might arrange book shelves.  

They are kind of like vertical gardens (in that the point is to fill a vertical space with plants) but different. You get to play more – move things around, and the pots are as much a part of the aesthetic as the selection of plants.

Admittedly, the idea of putting plants on shelves is not new, but doing it outside of the retail environment or for any other reason than purely for the sake of necessity is (at least a little) an original twist. Have you considered adding an all-season shelving unit to your garden so that you can grow and display more potted plants?

Shelved garden trend
This colorful selection of succulents reminds me of an underwater garden (of coral). There is so much to look at and each pot is its own wok of art and sculpture. These shelved gardens are from littleyard a Japanese garden blog.
Shelved garden trend
Also found at littleyard, this artfully curated and displayed potted garden uses a variety of junkyard treasures to creatively display plants over the shelf levels that are created with a step ladder, bricks, and stacked wooden fruit boxes.

Will we soon be combining the succulent trend with ever more interesting containers and then combining the containers to create ever more vertical visual appeal?

shelved garden trend via
Tiered plant stands are not uncommon in a nursery and are handy for display purposes. But they are also quite helpful for home gardeners to get some height for their potted gardens.

Tiered plant stands had a moment when I was a kid. I remember seeing them in many friends’ homes in the ’70s (and ours as well) – but like all good fashion, they went out at some point. But I think they are now on their way back in but with a new and refreshed style.

garden shelves by Borella Design via
A library of plants all lined up on shelves give a modern edge to this stone home in France.
garden shelves by Borella Design via

The variation and style choices are endless.   The shelves, the containers, the plant choices, and how you mix and match them together provide infinite options for self-expression.  These are just a few that have caught my eye recently.  The one above perhaps is my favorite- it looks like it takes some inspiration from a library. The idea of having a library of potted plants sounds good to me.

So, do we have the making of a big new garden trend?  Shelved Gardens?  What do you think?

More Garden Design Trend Spotting and Vertical Garden ideas:

images: top to bottom – rochelle greayer, littleyard, fabulous minds, and AT casa

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  1. Kris P says:

    I think you may have something there. I immediately began thinking “now where could I put one of those?”

  2. amy says:

    Oh, the old is new again! Yes, shelving is a wonderful way to display plants, haven’t the French been doing it for years? I like the look.

  3. Matt says:

    I concur with amy. This may be on trend again, but it’s definitely been around before.

  4. Susan says:

    Interesting! I like the ladder display of plants. Thanks for sharing.

  5. love this post. I agree. In fact I am combining the shelf concept with a vertical garden product – a wally five . I recently picked up a black iron work plant shelf (with sides) from my local thrift shop – beautiful 1950s lace work – BUT i find the shelf a bit restictive – it creates a very small space for a pot – am convinced I need larger rootballs to enable beautiful cascading plants to soften the iron work – so am planning to line the shelf with an old wally 5 –

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