How to Build a Vertical Garden for Small Spaces

When people talk about gardening, they usually think they need a vast space for such a hobby. However, the popularity of vertical gardens shows otherwise.

Who says you cannot grow your own plants at home when you are short on space? There is no longer an excuse to avoid cultivating plants even in a small area.

Vertical Gardens and Why Australians Love Them

Over the past several years, apartment living has increased in Australia. At the same time, urban centres are getting tighter and tighter. The Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that Aussies have been leaning towards apartment living for some time now. The 2016 census demonstrated that about 10% of residents (equivalent to over 2.3 million Australians) rented an apartment.

In 1991, one apartment was occupied for every seven houses. More than two decades later, one apartment per five separate houses was occupied. The same census stated that the highest number of occupants was in Melbourne while Sydney, particularly the Waterloo-Beaconsfield area, took second place.

Apartments do not have enough space for a garden. As a garden enthusiast, it should not be a reason to take your hobby away. It is why vertical gardens are becoming such a huge trend. Homeowners who may have limited space choose to go up as well. Vertical gardens are becoming more and more prevalent that even those with adequate space would go for this method of growing plants.

vertical garden wall being built

Benefits of Growing a Vertical Garden in Your Own Backyard

Vertical gardens are, quite obviously, a garden that grows vertically. Whereas a traditional garden has pot plants and garden beds, walls are the ideal canvas to go about creating a vertical garden, but there are other options. This can be as simple as creating more space for hanging baskets.

If you like to challenge yourself, you can go for something as complicated as installing a wall with frames, layers, and backing to embed the plants seamlessly.

Perhaps you are a staunch advocate of the traditional way. If you are wondering if a vertical garden is even worth your time, the following reasons should convince you:

  • Aesthetically, you have a colourful and beautiful garden that does not take up vital ground space.
  • Vertical gardens give you the chance to maximise what would have been disregarded space. You can transform it into something that is both appealing and stimulating.
  • You can have a natural tapestry that is hard to imitate.

Vertical Gardens and the fight against pollution.

Vertical gardens are known for their ability to reduce smog in your surroundings. The Urban heat island (UHI) effect refers to an area that is warmer than other places. It usually happens in a city or metropolitan area, which can have higher temperatures than rural areas. UHI is often due to human activities.

Many people do not know that plants can help in ridding the air of dust and other pollutants. Additionally, they can also offset the carbon footprint of people and vehicles. Aside from outdoor air, plants can also improve the quality of indoor air. Having a garden wall can reduce harmful volatile organic compounds, along with toxins, such as formaldehyde and benzene.

Vertical gardens are not only for reducing air pollution. They are also efficient in lowering noise pollution. Since you have a vegetated surface, it will easily block and diffuse sounds, specifically high-frequency ones. If low-frequency noises also bother you, it is possible to block them out as well. You will have to use growing medium support, such as a substrate to achieve this goal.

When you have a vertical garden in your property, you help increase biodiversity. Insects and birds will find natural habitats for themselves. Urbanisation has several benefits to the population, but it also comes with a great price, including loss of biodiversity. Green walls mitigate the damage while helping sustain different types of plants and insects.

Vertical gardens are not just for decorating your wall. They can also be used to grow food, which is a popular trend in Australia. Small fruits, herbs, and even vegetables help in creating sustainable food sources.

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, vertical gardens or specifically plants are known to aid in reducing stress. Different studies have proven that plants can lower physical signs of stress, anxiety, and depression.

According to Dr Virginia Lohr who works as a professor at the Washington State University, people who work around plants become 12% more productive. At the same time, they are less stressed than workers who stay in a plant-free zone.

Honeyman 1987 also stated that buildings that promote vegetation access can improve the overall health and wellbeing of the persons around them. Green buildings can increase the rate of post-operative recovery in medical facilities based on a study in 1983.

he benefits do not end here because there are also economic gains from a vertical garden:

  • When you have a vertical garden in your retail space, it can help increase foot traffic. The reason behind it is simple. People love spending their time in green areas. They feel much closer to nature and feel great as a whole as if they do not deal with any stressful situations.
  • A vertical garden can also provide thermal insulation. Proper insulation reduces power demand. Because there is less demand, you can save cash on power bills.
  • You can cut down on repairs and maintenance of your property due to the thermal protection the garden provides.
  • You help the local economy by employing experts who are professionals under a variety of disciplines, such as architects and landscape architects. You may also have to hire irrigation consultants and professional gardeners.

Also, if you plant vegetables, herbs, or fruits, you do not need to bend over to harvest your yield. Easy harvesting is something that senior citizens can benefit from.

residential vertical garden after completion

10 Best Plants for Your Vertical Garden

You may have heard about flowers growing in your vertical garden. You probably also thought about adding veggies and other foods to your green walls. Vertical gardens are easy to tend to and are a great introduction to gardening for beginners. However, there is one important thing that gardeners often forget: not all plants are suitable for a vertical garden.

If you lack space and you are looking to grow some plants, here are the top 10 plants that you can have in your vertical garden:

  1. FernsIf you are a complete newbie in vertical gardening or even gardening itself, you should find it easy to grow ferns. These plants are known for their adaptability. They can also resist humidity, so you can count on them to not die so quickly. Ferns grow fast as well, and the area will be covered in no time.There are different species for you to choose from, but the easiest ones to grow include bird’s nest, blue star, and sword ferns. Note though that they grow downwards, so you will need to combine them with other plants, too.
  2. BegoniasSome walls get inadequate sunlight while other areas bathe in the sunshine. If your green wall gets a lot of sunlight or at least enough of it, begonias are a good plant to choose. They come in many shapes and sizes. You can find compact, variegated, or trailing varieties. No matter which you select, it will thrive in your vertical garden. Plus, the plant will add more colour, along with the white or pink flowers.
  3. ClematisClematis, particularly its perennial variety, demand for the flowers to get as much sun as possible, while the roots should be in the shade. If you can provide such a spot for clematis, these vertical plants will give you a striking look on your wall. It has many shapes and colours. Some varieties can even attract butterflies because of their pleasant fragrance.
  4. Golden PothosYou may not be too familiar with the name, but you will have likely seen them before. The golden pothos is a type of vining or climbing plant. This plant is perfect for vertical gardens, due to their natural ability to climb vertically, complimenting the other plants you may choose to install.These plants are known to grow fast, so if you’re looking for a fast start to your garden wall, they are a great choice. Golden Pothos can also tolerate low light areas while thriving on indirect sunlight. They have a particular affinity to humid areas, helping them grow quickly
  5. English IvyThis plant is hardy and stays green throughout its life. The English ivy can attach itself on the wall effortlessly. However, you need to provide it with surfaces, such as aerial rootlets. Many prefer this plant because it has lush foliage. As it spreads, it will form a green cover on the walls. Give it full or even partial sun and it will thrive.The English ivy works well in well-drained soil, which can either be alkaline or acidic. It does not require heavy maintenance and can grow up to 28 metres.
  6. Giant LilyturfThe leaves look like straps that spread out densely. They are glossy and darker in colour than many other plants. Its lush foliage is one of the reasons why it is best for vertical gardens. You will also love that it blooms in the summer with hard-to-ignore flowers.
  7. Geranium VarietiesAny geranium variety will work well in a vertical garden. You will find the walls bursting with deep reds, pinks, scarlet, and whites among others. You can plant one variety or combine them for a more interesting effect. Even better, the flowers can last for the whole gardening season.
  8. Wedding VinesYou will easily recognise wedding vines because they are usually present as decorations during matrimonial ceremonies. The pure white flowers are extremely fragrant. Wedding vines can grow up to two metres.
  9. OrchidsThe most popular varieties include oncidium and dendrobium. They have a cascading effect and exotic flowers surrounded by strappy leaves. The plant as a whole makes a bold and lush statement for your vertical garden. Growing orchids is virtually painless and they do enjoy bright light. However, you should not expose them to direct sunlight as much as possible.
  10. Lipstick PlantUnlike most of the plants mentioned above, the lipstick plant is often grown in hanging baskets. It trails downwards then climbs upwards, making it ideal for vertical gardens. The plant got its name because of its bright red flowers. They emerge from deep green leaves and stems, so you can that nice contrast between these hues.Lipstick plants flower sporadically all year round, and they produce a stunning effect on vertical gardens. They work best in subtropical climates and humidity.

Choosing the plants for your vertical garden can be a difficult process with each plant coming with different demands and requirements. Some require heavy maintenance, while others can thrive even if you pay little attention to them.

The rule of thumb is to go for compact plants that grow low. As much as possible, stick with those that have shallow root systems. Consider the following tips as well:

  • If you have a sunny area for your vertical garden, go for geraniums, gazanias, petunias, and other trailing seasonal flowers. For instance, violas are great for winter and fall while petunias are for spring and summer.
  • If you have a shady area, ferns, bromeliads, and begonias will work well. You can plant them in the bathrooms.
  • For edibles, the best plants for vertical gardens are thyme, oregano, and other trailing herbs. If you want leafy vegetables, pick lettuce or spinach.

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation identified certain plant species to be suitable for living walls. The following plants are ideal for those in subtropical Australia:

  • Round leaf parakeelya
  • Tasman flax-lily
  • Bulbine lily
  • Native sarsaparilla or purple coral peas
  • Silver plectranthus
  • Cockspur flower

The plant choices are virtually limitless. The trick is to know what they need, including water, light, and food.

Creating Your Own Garden vs Hiring a Professional

DIY vertical gardening gives you the chance to showcase your creativity and passion for plants. You can care for them in your way and design the green wall however you like. If you have experience in traditional or container gardening, you will probably have no problems building a vertical garden. After all, they work the same way except that vertical gardens take up less space.

To make your job easier, you can go for a DIY kit. It comes in modules, allowing you to use many if you have enough space. When building the garden on your own, you want to make sure that the wall or fence is sturdy enough as you start planting. The last thing you want is to attach the garden and it ends up collapsing.

You may need to bolster the wall to give it a bit more strength. Bolstering may require attaching marine plywood, which is a great option because you can use it outdoors even during autumn and winter. The kit will typically come with a watering system. Most of the time, it is a plastic pipe that runs into the pot from behind the bracket. You have the choice to either connect the pipe to the pot or use a timer for proper irrigation.

On the other hand, some people do not like to take risks. Instead of venturing into the unknown, it is better to have an expert who can guide you in building your vertical garden. From designing to installing to irrigation and maintenance, only a professional gardener with years of authentic experience can deliver the best results.

Some people believe that hiring a pro is expensive, which is why they choose to DIY their vertical garden. In reality, you can save more money because you gain expert recommendations. You are guided in the right direction. Also, even if you follow DIY tutorials, you can end up spending $365 or more, especially if you go for a soilless system.

completed vertical garden for a commerical property

Vertical Garden Ideas

When people envision a vertical garden, it is usually made of a wall with lots of hanging greens. In reality, there are different types of vertical gardening methods that you can try. Here are some of the best and easiest options:

  1. Vertical ContainerPurchasing vertical containers is the simplest way to create a vertical garden. However, it does not mean you cannot build one on your own. It requires that you create a frame with slats, then, you will have to find window boxes that will be attached to the frame. Make sure these boxes are huge and can be easily installed. A vertical container is ideal for those who want to grow a variety of vegetables in a compact box.
  2. Pocket Vertical GardeningA growing trend involves the use of a canvas, which is turned into a DIY vertical garden. What you will need to do is to sew pockets where you will be planting your flowers. For the most simple method, use a hanging shoe rack and place the plants in each pocket. Of course, you can also buy a pocket garden, which is intended for the purpose.Pocket gardens are a great idea for those who have very little growth space. The only requirement is that you have a wall that gets plenty of sunlight.
  3. Pallet PlanterIf you are looking for an inexpensive way to have a vertical garden in your yard or inside your home, a pallet planter is a wonderful choice. The idea is to take a pallet and convert it into a planter. It works well with herb gardens. You can look for milk jugs that you no longer use and turn them into a planter, hanging them by their handles. It is not only a cheap method but also really easy to create.
  4. ShelvingIf you have shelves inside the house that you do not use, you can convert it into a vertical garden. All you need are some pots or any containers, grow some plants in them, and place them on the shelf. It is also one of the best ways to plant a variety of veggies without needing a huge site.
  5. Hanging BasketsNext to walls, using baskets is probably the most popular method for vertical gardening. You get to expand your horizons with this option. Fruit-bearing plants can thrive in these baskets, unlike with pockets on the wall.
  6. Modern KitchenNo one can tell you where your plants belong as they should not simply be for outdoor usage. For those with minimal space, including those who do not have a yard, there are many other ways to create a vertical garden. One method is to grow herbs in your kitchen. After all, it is the exact place in your house or apartment where you need them. You get the freedom to control the design, such as through purchasing pots that go well with your existing décor.
  7. On the FenceIf you have tin cans lying around, now is a great time to make use of them. Instead of throwing them away, you can spray paint them. Once they are dry, you can add soil and grow your desired plant. You can install the tin cans on the fence.
  8. Gutter GardenThe concept is to hang real gutters along the balcony rail. If it is not possible, you can simply hang them along the fence. They may require drainage holes, although you can get away without them.

To be on the safe side, follow this rule: if you plan to plant herbs, use pots and tubs for them. They are perfect for almost any short-lived plant, including flowering and edible ones. Meanwhile, if you opt for long-lasting plantings, it is best to use a system that lets the roots mingle. It means the plant roots will share the nutrients, which mimics their natural habitat.

If you feel a Vertical Garden is perfect for your space, but don’t quite want to do the job yourself, get in touch with the team at Alessio’s Gardens. Our expertise can transform your space into a garden haven.