Not all households are blessed with enough yard space to create a garden with a beautiful landscape. If gardening is a passion and your home doesn’t have enough space (especially if you live in high-rise buildings in the city), then vertical gardening is a great option.
A vertical garden is a garden attached next to a wall or fence and can be placed on an exterior or interior space. Plants are allowed to grow and spread upward or downward, rather than sideward. It can also be referred to as a green wall or living wall. However, don’t confuse it with a green façade, in which plants root in structural support fastened to the wall itself.
Vertical gardening may seem like a new, trendy way to garden, but the original concept was from the Babylonians living around 1000 BC. The Babylonians created hanging gardens, extensive vertical gardens, and living walls within their villages. After many centuries, vertical gardens were somehow forgotten, but now they are making a comeback due to its space-saving ability and versatility.
A vertical garden structure should be anchored in place to avoid disturbing the roots and stems of plants. Heavier and mode demanding plants should be grown on sturdier walls and structures. Meanwhile, if you can set up high-quality grape vine trellis systems, the better.
Because of the unconventional setup, not all plants can adapt well to vertical gardening. Here are some of the plants that work best for this method of gardening:
- Vines – low maintenance vine plants can be easily grown in indirect sunlight. Since vines are natural climbers, they can easily be grown in vertical gardens. Examples are Ivies, rosary vines, philodendrons, and pothos.
- Ferns – easy growing plants that are adaptable to weather and can resist humidity. They are usually hanged because they grow downward. Examples are sword stern, bird’s nest fern, and blue star fern.
- Succulents – thick and fleshy plants that are highly adaptable to weather and climatic changes. They can thrive and grow even if you neglect them for weeks, but they are highly decorative once put on a wall. They look best when framed or hanged. Examples are echeveria, sedum, crassula and string of pearls.
- Air plants – easy-to-grow and low-maintenance plants that have no roots. They can thrive without soil, making them perfect for vertical gardens. Examples are tillandsias and vriesas.
- Bromeliads – shallow-rooted flowering plants that need little space to grow. They have colorful leaves and long-lasting flowers that brighten up space. They are adapted as houseplants for a long time because they thrive whether indoors or outdoors.
- Hostas/plantain lilies – one of the most popular foliage plants known for their versatility, adaptability, and shade-tolerance. They can make walls evergreen.
- Begonias – low-maintenance perennial flowering plants that bloom freely especially during the summer. If your vertical garden receives a lot of natural light, begonias can surely prettify your wall.
- Lipstick plant – easy-care flowering plants that thrive in warm temperatures and humid surroundings. These produce red, tubular-shaped flowers, thus the name. It’s great for indoor vertical gardens and hanging baskets and pots.
- Fruiting vines – plants producing edible fruits can also thrive in vertical gardens. Yes, it is possible to have a fruit or vegetable garden on the wall! Examples are peas, kiwi, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, pole beans, and gooseberries.
- Herbs – plants that can be used as food, flavoring, medicine, and fragrances. Example of herbs you can grow on a vertical garden are basil, thyme, spring onion, parsley, rosemary, coriander, and oregano.
Types of Vertical Gardens
There is no one way to do vertical gardening. The materials you would use really depends on the type of plants you are going to plant, the type of space you have available for gardening, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and many other factors. Here are the types of vertical gardens:
1. Trellis gardens
Making use of trellis is the most common way of vertical gardening. You can buy a standard trellis, or you can DIY using wood or wire to create a criss-cross pattern to be placed on the wall. Vine plants are usually placed on a trellis.
2. Pocket planters
As the name suggests, pocket planters have pockets where you put soil and plants. It is made of breathable felt fabrics that can help plants grow better. You may also reuse an old hanging pocket shoe organizer.
3. Wood pallet garden
Recycled wood shipping pallets make a great-looking vertical garden. You need a landscaping paper or fabric placed on the back and sides to prevent soil from escaping. When used with pots, then you can plant almost any small plant on your wall.
4. Gutter garden
A rain gutter doesn’t only work best on roofs but also on vertical gardens. These can be arranged horizontally in parallel rows or diagonally in a zigzag pattern.
5. Framed gardens
Framed wall gardens make a beautiful decoration, creating a living picture (literally). Succulents are the best plants to put on these, but you have to choose those that grow slowly. Make use of big picture frames and feature a unique but natural artwork.
6. Hanging garden pots
The easiest way to create a vertical garden is probably by just using gardening pots and hanging them on the wall. You can use ceramic, clay or plastic pots, or you can go green by recycling plastic bottles and containers.
7. Wooden box garden
Make use of scrap wood by creating garden boxes that can be mounted on walls. Annuals and perennial plants grow best on this type of garden.
Advantages of Vertical Gardens
Having your own vertical garden offers a lot of benefits. One of the most obvious advantages is that it only makes use of vertical space, so if you are only allowed to plant in a small area, you can maximize its use. Besides that, here are the other benefits of having a vertical garden:
1. Beautifies areas
Plants beautify spaces. If there is an ugly wall in your line of sight, a vertical garden can make them attractive. It brightens up the monotony of concrete jungles, creating a more livable and breathable look to any home. Vertical gardens can improve the view, and as a result, uplifting not only your mood but even your neighbors’ as well.
2. Helps you grow healthier plants
Vertical gardening gives them better exposure to sunlight. It also allows more air to circulate through the soil, reducing the chance for mildews and other fungi to attack. Also, you can avoid the problem of contaminated soil, especially when you are renting in a new place where you didn’t know how the soil was treated before or when you are living in a condo where someone else maintains the outdoor areas.
3. Less need for pesticides and care
Because plants are elevated, they are kept away from pests like slugs and plant-eating animals like rabbits, so you would less likely need pesticides. Plants in vertical gardens also need fewer fertilizers, less weeding and less irrigation.
4. Makes plant care more accessible
Tending plants and harvesting crops from a vertical garden is easier on vertical gardens than on the usual on-the-ground ones, since you can do it while standing up (or mostly upright depending on the height), rather than having to kneel, bend or squat on the ground. This is ideal for people with arthritis, mobility issues and other disabilities, especially the elderly.
5. Improves air quality
Plants help purify air and improve its quality by removing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pollutants we can inhale from building materials, plastic items, carpeting, flooring, and furniture. Modern houses have been found to have poorer air quality indoors that outdoors even with external pollution, because modern energy efficiency structures prevent indoor air from escaping, letting toxins accumulate inside. Indoor vertical gardens can help lessen these harmful compounds in the air. Consequently, it also reduces the harmful effects of smog when placed outdoors from vehicular emissions and industrial wastes.
6. Makes air cooler
If you’re living in a home surrounded by lots of concrete, the temperature can be very unforgiving during the summer. Get some plants and make a vertical garden to bring cooler air to your home.
7. Provide fresh produce
If you are being extra-careful about vegetables and herbs you consume, or if a natural disaster comes and cuts off delivery of fresh foods, then having your own vertical vegetable garden would give you an advantage. Encouraging more people to grow vertical gardens at their homes can help alleviate issues with food security and freshness in your community.
8. Serves as a privacy screen
Screen your home from outsiders and nosy neighbors by placing vertical gardens on your balcony or porch. You can also use it as a living divider to define boundaries inside the home.
9. Serves as a noise barrier
If you leave in a noisy environment, a vertical garden can help absorb noise and other sounds. Because of that, it helps create a more peaceful home, and a more conducive work environment, especially if you or someone in your household work from home.
10. Helps children focus
Children with ADHD, autism and other mental health issues that affect focus and learning could benefit with vertical gardens, which can help calm their nerves and stimulate their brain. Just place the garden near their homework area or a place where they can see it from their windows.
11. Increases property value
Placing a thriving and beautiful vertical garden in the front or side yard can significantly increase property value, even when you invested just a little for it.