Do you have limited space at home? Here is everything you need to know before you plant your very own vertical garden.
There’s a good reason vertical gardens have proved to be one of the biggest horticultural trends over the last five years. With so many of us living in small apartments or houses with limited space, planting a garden up a wall instead of in the ground makes so much sense!
If you’ve always dreamed of having a garden or growing your own herbs, fruit and veges but have little room, then why not consider a vertical garden? Great for renters, town houses or anywhere else with limited space – they can even be used to cover up an eyesore. You can really flex your creativity and imagination when it comes to a vertical garden – think upcycled materials and themed plants, or you can even buy one of the many ready-made wall hanging kits available.
Belinda Thackeray from Eden Gardens give us top tips on what you must know before you plant up.
Q: Where can you grow a vertical garden?
Anywhere there is a vertical space. Vertical gardens are a great way to create a garden feature, especially where space is limited like on balconies and in courtyards. Gardens range from colourful floral displays to walls of green. Systems with plastic trays (pots) like Versiwall are lightweight and can be used to cover up walls or fences. They can be used inside and outside.
Q: Are they higher maintenance than a normal garden?
This depends on the system and the types of plants selected. It’s important to make sure plants are well watered, especially if the pots / trays in the vertical system are small and it is position in a sunny or windy position.
Q: How often do you need to water it?
The amount of water your vertical garden requires will depend largely on the style you choose to use, the position, the type of plants and the season. Vertical gardens in a sunny spot in summer will need watering every couple of days compared to those in a shady spot which may only need watering once, maybe twice a week.
Some vertical gardens are set up with irrigation systems, making them easy to water.
Q: What plants grow best?
Select compact, low growing plants with shallow root systems. Plants need to be selected to suit position like full sun or part shade. Group plants with similar water and fertiliser requirements together. Lots of vertical systems will be drier at the top and moister at the bottom.
Q: What are some examples of plants that grow well in a vertical garden?
• Herbs – position in sun. Try plants with different foliage like: variegated thyme, opal basil, sweet basil, golden marjoram, oregano, Vietnamese mint, parsley or chives
• Edible - position in sun. Try herbs, strawberries, tomatoes or lettuce. Herbs and vegetables need a consistent supply of fertiliser so it is best to apply a liquid fertiliser such as Powerfeed on a fortnightly basis.
• Succulents – position in sun. Combine small varieties of Echeveria, Semipervious, Crassula, Sedum or Kalanchoe.
• Flowering – position in full sun or part shade, depending on plant varieties. Try annual bloomers like petunias, nasturtiums, violas or cineraria. Or try perennial plants with seasonal colour like Gaura, Dianella, society garlic, Santolina, azaleas or cyclamens.
• Foliage – position in shade. Try combinations of ferns, bromeliads, mini mondo grass, Liriope, begonias or Calathea.
Q: What conditions are best?
Vertical gardens can be placed in either sun or shade positions, as long as the correct plants are selected.
Q: If you are renting, will it leave any marks on the wall? What could you do to minimise this?
Vertical gardens can be a great choice for renters as they are often portable. Small systems like Versiwall are easy to pull apart and move, with pots simply clipping out of mounting panel.
Depending on the vertical garden system selected, you may be able to sit it on the ground and lean up against a wall, hang from above, or attach to a wooden frame sitting in front of a wall, so as to leave no marks.
Q: What materials can you use?
There are many things you can use to create a vertical garden – you are only limited by your imagination (and maybe some handyman skills). Some ideas include: old pallets, large hessian bags filled with potting mix, bales of mulch bound together with wire or thin rope, large diameter polypipe with holes drilled in the sides, commercially available ready-made such as the Versiwall vertical systems, which we stock at Eden Gardens.
Versiwall consists of polypropylene trays (pots) that clip into a back mounting panel that is attached to a wall, fence or other vertical surface. Trays can be attached at different spacings depending on the size of plants being planted and density of look being created. Anti-lift arm prevents the trays from being knocked out accidently.
Q: We’ve got our plants and our potting system set up, what next?
Always fill your vertical garden with a good quality potting mix like Eden Premium Mix. This contains soil wetter to increase soil water penetration, water crystals to help with soil water holding capacity, and basic control release fertiliser to feed plants.
Water in after filling and let it settle for a couple of days as the potting mix will sink a little as the air moves out and you will need to top it up.
Remember to fill the vertical garden in position as they can be heavy and awkward to manoeuvre at a later date when they are full of potting mix and plants.
Water plants in well with a good soil tonic such as Seasol. This will encourage new root growth (important so the plants don’t fall out!) and help them to recover from any transplant stress they may have experienced at planting time.
For more information and expert advice on how to grow a vertical garden visit edengardens.com.au