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Multi-layer gardening is often employed in greenhouses, but may also be a viable method for small backyards or balconies.
In the simplest implementation, a garden is planted at ground level - in the ground, in pots, or in a greenhouse. Then pots are hung above, with enough room between to allow good lighting. A shelf may also be mounted above the ground level plantings - such as on a fence. The shelve may contain build in beds, or it can hold pots.
The key to multi-layer gardening is to plan for adequate light on the lower level, or to plant items on the lower level which flourish in shade. Take care if you plant vines in the top pots - they can trail down and completely take over! Many plants, like strawberries, and herbs, do very well in pots though, so there are options to grow things that you might not be able to justify space for, by adding an upper layer to your garden.
This is one very practical way to maximize growing space and increase yield in limited spaces.