Vertical gardens – how to maximise your garden space
Vertical gardens have become a very popular addition to residential, commercial and public spaces over the past 5 years due to their instant impact and the relaxing feeling they create to harsh, small or unused spaces. However, vertical gardens are not for the beginner, with even the most experienced green thumb often struggling with plant growth, health and survival. There are many off the shelf solutions available from hardware stores and online sellers, and they can be a good place to start.
Just like any other garden planting or plant selection, planning and research are key. For indoor vertical gardens, creeper plants like the Devils Ivy (yes, its’ made a come-back) is probably the easiest plant to grow in this environment, but over watering, lack of natural or artificial light still inhabits this plant from looking its best. In addition; vertical gardens often use small pots, which do not allow the plant to grow, stunting the size and often leaving the owner underwhelmed with the end result. They also require a lot of maintenance as irrigation for indoor set ups is often not practical, because it means watering by hand.
For outdoor vertical gardens, this same small pot approach often means the pot and soil heat quickly in summer causing soil dryness so the plants will lack the moisture they need and die, (often the pots are black to hide against the foliage amplifying the problem). Therefore, whilst watering is more accessible, the plant cannot hold enough moisture to keep the roots moist for long enough, particularly on scorching hot days.
At Garden Design solutions we tested DYI kits along with our own inventions, growing herbs and other kitchen type plants in alfresco areas as well indoor kitchen walls, however the end result is often the same with nearly all types of plants under these small set ups. The only exception is the Zanzibar Gem, part of the Zamiifolia plant species which will grow almost anywhere and requires next to no light. This is one of the slowest growing plants so you will need to be patient and manage your expectations if you wish to cover an entire wall with these.
Having said, that at GDS we love vertical gardens, but also understand the pitfalls, work and cost involved in installing and maintaining one so it looks fabulous year- round. The secret is to plan and manage the irrigation, artificial lighting – especially in winter and to consider larger pots as an option to achieve the desired long-term effect. Taking a seasonal approach to your vertical garden by changing the look and bringing in some different plants a couple of times a year to embrace the seasons and weather patterns means you will keep your vertical garden looking fresh, vibrant whilst using the initial infrastructure.