Gardening is a beloved hobby for millions of people across the country. And, one of those millions of people is looking for easier and more rewarding ways to create a garden. Once you learn how easy it is to change your garden from a horizontal system to a vertical one, you’ll for sure start creating your own vertical garden in your backyard. But beforehand, let me first give you an idea of what a vertical garden is. A vertical garden is a garden that grows upward or vertically, using a trellis or other support system, rather than on the ground or horizontally. It is a garden where vegetables, flowers, and fruit all grow, climb, and twine upward to create a beautiful landscape that saves space, requires less effort, produces high yields, and reduces pest and disease problems.
Vertical gardening is used by many to ensure that they are using their garden space to its maximum potential. And just recently, the idea of living walls has become a popular trend, in response to higher density living, and homes with small gardens. But before that, you need to consider some important facts that you don’t want to take for granted when creating a vertical garden.
You Can’t Overlook Your Garden Entrance
A wonderful garden gateway is greatly enhanced by the people looking at it because it is usually the point of entry and the place where people make their first impressions! When choosing the garden entrance, you need to consider some factors, for you don’t want to overlook your garden entrance. Did you know that an attractive garden entrance or arbor adds character, welcomes the visitors, and can share a little of your personality too? Thus, the importance of overlooking your garden entrance comes in.
The plants that decorate the entrance are obviously the most important part of all. Not surprisingly, if the plants are healthy then the garden will seem more welcoming. If a plant is dropped or limp, treat it or remove it! Consider plants that complement the garden style as well as the importance of the perfume at the entrance. On the other hand, an arbor at an entrance can frame a space, invite you further into the garden, and provide an appealing vertical structure to add color and character.
Checking the Shade Factor
Does your garden get only limited sun? Then you may need to consider how permanent your vertical structures really need to be. Also, you must consider the mobility or the access challenges. Choose lightweight materials that can be easily moved when they have done their job, or that can be easily repositioned to catch the sun during the day.
Your plants may block the sunlight from reaching other plants behind or below them, depending on where you position your plants. Place vertical structures such as teepees and arbors whenever you need to shade the plants from the bottom. Otherwise, if they won’t get enough sun, then the plants would suffer. Some plants love shade or can tolerate semi-shade, so take advantage of these spaces by planting vegetables like spinach or lettuce especially in the warmer months.
Choose the Plant Wisely
When it comes to planting selection, you need to carefully choose plants that can cope with the conditions. Whether you will need access for pruning as it matures, or not. You can also give the spillers, fillers, and thrillers a try: spillers hang down, fillers fill out space, and thrillers provide flowers or different leaf colors or shape. Just consider what kind of plant you’re going to grow.
In addition, you can try growing herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives and parsley, which do well in the hotter conditions; vegetables, trailing varieties, native perennials, plants or flowers; that do well in the shadier and cooler spots. You’ll want to be aware of the flexibility of these plants since you’re growing them vertically. And at the end of the day, it is a great feeling seeing these wall gardens doing so well.
Furthermore, when done right, they have the potential to add both aesthetics and cooling to our higher density cities, not to mention bringing in insects, bees, lizards, and birds for biodiversity and plant pollination.
Height and Strength of the Structure
You don’t want to ignore considering the height of your vertical garden because this would play an important role. Position hanging baskets, or upside-down planters where you won’t knock your head as you walk past to check if there is adequate support for their weight. Avoid hanging them very high so that you won’t have a hard time in watering and maintaining them. But if you don’t have any other option, perhaps you can invest in a pulley system so you can lower and raise the planter.
Meanwhile, prepare some space in front to enable easy access by a ladder for maintenance such as fertilizing, replanting, deadheading, pruning, and replenishing potting mix. Some systems have pots that can be removed, but that can be tricky given the weight of the pots.
The mature weight of plants will also have a factor on the structure that you will choose. Nevertheless, the strength of the structure will need to support what you grow. And there is no point in growing heavy crops on an old rickety fence – for you will only hasten its final thrill. That growth can exert a force out from the wall, as well as the weight pulling down on the wall. In addition, some people use perlite and vermiculite to reduce the weight of the potting medium even further.
Also, heavy vegetable crops like melons and pumpkins may need extra support by tying a mini cloth hammock underneath them until they are ready for harvesting. There are also some known failures about the weight of the plants affecting the brick walls. To address the problem, they used a product called Brick Grip, which clips onto the brick without any drilling required. Somehow, it kind of worked, but then several pockets started falling. In the end, they used epoxy resin to attach the brackets.
For a vertical garden to be successful and to blossom, it needs to be well watered, especially if it is attached to a wall that is exposed to plenty of sun and wind. Using an irrigation system is the best solution and the easiest way to ensure that your plants are getting the right amount of water they needed.
Your vertical garden might need more maintenance than a regular in-the-ground garden or container plant. Because these living walls are denser, therefore have less soil, so they may need to be watered more often. But worry no more because there are already different kinds of an available irrigation system. We have the gravity fed drip irrigation systems, comprehensive drip irrigation systems, and the watering through a pipe network.
On the contrary, an automatic watering system is already available which is programmed to supply water to the plants for three minutes a day in summer, and less during winter. This is to ensure that the plants get a good soaking. Moreover, you would still need to water the plants even during winter when your vertical garden is located under your house eaves. Plants that are not planted in the ground and are exposed to more sun and the wind will need a drink more often. They may be vulnerable to wider fluctuations in temperature too. Add extra mulch to compensate water wisely, and choose your plant species carefully. Although vertical gardens might need more frequent watering, they contribute to good air circulation.
Structure Before Planting
Prior to planting, you need to have a good structure for your garden. But how are you going to do it? By, of course, making a structured plan. First, choose a wall. Any wall will do and that’s the good thing about vertical gardens. You won’t worry about its weight load unless you are planting trees. The plants that you’re going to choose will depend upon the wall you pick and how much sunlight it receives. However, if you’d like to try plants, then choose a wall that will provide the best growing conditions for them.
The basic structure of a vertical garden wall is a three-layer sandwich made of frame, plastic sheeting, and fabric. Build the whole setup before hanging it. Building a frame prior to hanging it on the wall will make it easier for you to take it down. Just make sure you erect or install your vertical support structure before planting, to avoid root damage once plants have started growing.
Put Plant Supports and Ties
Some plants that grow out but wouldn’t climb up on their own like indeterminate tomatoes and raspberry canes, need an extra helping hand to grow vertically. If trained to grow upwards with appropriate structures like stakes, trellises, cages, spaced ties or clips, they can be extremely productive and be contained in a compact space.
This is the most fun part of planning a vertical garden. For sure you wouldn’t want to ignore this part. This is purely designing your plantings, and putting art to it, making use of your artsy skills. First things first, choose plants that will grow 2 to 3 feet out from the wall and plant them at the top so they create shade underneath. But you should keep in mind that by doing so; you should plant shade-tolerant species underneath, such as ferns. In like manner, a plant that’s 8 feet off the ground will often droop, giving you a nice waterfall effect. But will also smother whatever is underneath, so you will have to trim it back.
Additionally, when you opt to choose vertical stripes with green shade plants in one strip, and sun-loving flowers in another, you will have the most dramatic effect garden ever! For sure, you will have the most jaw-dropping garden in the neighborhood.
Change in Weathers
Different climates have a huge effect in your garden, so this shouldn’t be taken for granted. Vertical gardening in any climate can be extremely complex because it’s always changing. With global climate change, the weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable. But with the aid of new technology and programs, we can be prepared. And plan of time our garden designs.
Furthermore, one of the most important things to consider when designing a vertical garden would be the wind exposure, the sun exposure, the average temperature (as well as the extremes), and the ambient humidity and access to water. The temperature will tell you which plants will likely survive in your garden, and which ones wouldn’t likely survive.
Fertilize the Plants
For a plant to grow and thrive, it needs several different chemical elements. Just like human beings wherein we need vitamins for our body since they are essential compounds that help the body grow and function optimally. The same thing that goes with the plants; they would also need some necessary nutrients for proper growth. By, adding fertilizers, you can ensure the plants receive the nutrients they need at planting time, and during the growing period.
However, a plant can take in fertilizer through two ways. One is by the root system, and the other is through foliage dressing. Adding a slow-release fertilizer during the initial planting is a good choice. Slow-release fertilizer allows a certain amount of fertilizer chemicals to be absorbed at one time.
Make the Most of the Structures
Vertical gardening is a newfangled, easy, yet highly productive growing system that uses bottom-up and top-down supports for a wide variety of plants in both small and large garden spaces. Where its elements can draw attention to an area, or disguise an unattractive view. Structure wise, vertical gardens use columnar trees to create vertical gardening rooms or define hidden spaces ready for discovery. Vertical gardening with upright structures can be a boon for apartment occupants, small-space urban gardeners, and disabled gardeners, as well as for gardeners with large traditional spaces.
On the contrary, avoid wasting walls and fences that provide you with blank canvases for growing or displaying garden art. If you can’t drill into the front of a fence or gate, try hanging hooks with planters over the top. Likewise, artwork and signs can be attached with a little creative inspiration.
Regardless of where you live, I’m a firm believer that you can take advantage of some of the many benefits a vertical garden can offer. Did you know that plants improve both indoor and outdoor air quality by removing the harmful volatile organic compounds and at the same time absorbing pollutants? So growing plants vertically even in compact spaces like windowsills, balconies, front entrances and hanging in aerial space will make a BIG difference to your health.