vertical gardening basics

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Vertical gardening is nowadays getting very popular among gardeners. Particularly with urban people where the space for gardening is very limited. But to many of us, it is still only a combination of two words with so much mystery surrounded by it. 

Through this blog, I made an attempt to demystify the concept of Vertical Gardening and make people motivated enough to start doing it.

What Is A Vertical Garden?

Vertical garden is an innovative, effortless, and highly productive garden, that utilizes various resources to allow a plant to grow vertically rather than along the surface of the horizon.

If you have some empty wall or bare fence you can beautify those by applying these techniques.

Edibles, annuals, perennials whatever is your choice you can apply vertical gardening to almost every possible container plant. Most of the plants can grow without any support.

In some cases like Ivy or some particular vegetables, you need to provide some sort of support in the form of stakes, cages etc in order to grow properly.

As with any other type of gardening, it also requires choosing a location with plenty of natural sunlight, rich soil, ample water supply.

Whether your garden is very large or tiny, you can make better use of every square inch by using vertical gardening techniques to grow upright crops. Varieties such as Pole beans typically produce twice as many beans as bush varieties if given proper conditions to grow.

In terms of growing food plants in a vertical garden, Cucumber, Bell Pepper, and Tomato plants are excellent examples of vertical gardening. A simple wire cylinder works very well for supporting all three.

Growing ivy in walls or fencing is a very common example of using the vertical gardening concept for decorative and landscaping purposes.

Benefits of Vertical Gardening: 

Following are some of the many benefits that come along with Vertical Gardening:

  • Less work timesaver: By shrinking the amount of Garden space required, Vertical gardening saves time and work. Activities such as weeding, watering, fertilizing, and controlling pests and diseases are reduced considerably, while yields are increased considerably.
  • Companion planting: With Vertical gardening methods, you’ll also discover that many ground-level plants pair beautifully with climbing plants, so you can combine different types of plants to create a lush curtain of flowers, foliage, and bounty.
  • Better yield: Moreover, a veining vegetable is capable of continuous yields the more you pick, the more the plant forms new flowers and fruit to prolong the harvest. A bush variety, by contrast, will exhaust itself within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • No low back pain: As you do not need to bend frequently to work on your garden it removes any later problem of lower backache.
  • Eun and Interesting: It is much, much more fun way to work in a vertical garden than in a traditional garden. Check out Five most popular gardening Styles in this video:

  • Aesthetic value: Vertical gardening is very useful for decorative purposes and landscaping designs.
  • Better utilization of space: Vertical garden does a better utilization of space by growing lots of plants in a limited amount of space. 
  • Environment friendly: vertical gardens are environment-friendly and help reducing carbon footprints.
  •  Improved thermal efficiency for the building: A green wall can improve the thermal efficiency of your building in two ways. One through shading and other through evaporation in transpiration. The plants also provide insulation for the building.

How To Build A Vertical Garden:

There are four steps in building a vertical garden these are 

  1. Location or surface selection
  2. Selection of Plants
  3. Fix the frame to the surface
  4. Start planting

Surface selection

The very first step in any gardening is selecting an ideal site. For a vertical garden along with the site location you also need to select the surface for attaching the garden framework. 

Though you can grow vertical gardens in outdoors as well as indoors always prefer a location that receives enough sunlight. If your site gets enough sunlight your options for selecting a plant becomes larger.

Selection of Plants

Depending on your personal choices and availability of sunlight choose the plants for growing in your vertical garden. 

Fix the frame to the surface

Now add a frame or structure to the surface. You can buy a vertical structure that you like or can make your own. 

Start planting

Now put the soil to your structure and plant the plants.   

Types of Structures In Vertical Gardening:

In vertical gardens making the most of the space, you do have, whether big or small is very important. And the design ensures you to do just that. Here are some of the most popular vertical garden structures:

Trellis: 

Trellis acts as a climbing path for vines etc. You can also train plants such as bougainvillaea, trumpet vine and wisteria, etc to grow upwards.

The best part of using trellis system is that you can easily disguise unsightly areas of a garden-a blank wall of a barn, a worn shed, a garage or other section of your house.

Arches:

For heavy plants arches are a great vertical garden structure. Plant such as grapes is ideal for this type of structure. 

You can also use arches plants that climb. 

Arches are a beautiful, simple vertical garden design and can be a lot of fun to work with.

Wire Fences and Poles:

Wiring fences and poles are great if you are growing vining plants like peas and beans. These plants need a bit of support for climbing up. You can just tie the vines with poles or wires and they will do the rest.

If you have a garden fence just plant crops next to the fence and they will use the fence to grow upwards.

Pockets: 

Pocket planters like these are easy ways to grow plants vertically. You can also make your own pocket planter by using shoe pockets that are used commonly in closets. Make sure the pockets are big enough to support enough potting soil. 

Pockets are a great decor option for your indoor, outdoor walls and fences. You can use these to plant flowers, vegetables, strawberries, perennials herbs, etc.

Trays:

These are somewhat similar to pocket planters except these structures are much more sturdy. Gardening trays that are designed for vertical gardening come with brackets for easy mounting.

The tray is divided into chambers and there is a hole under the bottom for drainage.  You can mount them on walls and use screws, nails or clips to fasten them.

Hanging pots: 

Hanging pots are a very popular and easy way to start vertical gardening. Some of the most popular vertical gardening containers and hanging planters that you can use like bottles, cans etc. are often already in your home. You can also buy these planters from online stores as well.

Walls: 

A green wall is very eye-catching. It can be attached to the wall or freestanding. Sometimes the plants cover the whole structure. You can build a green wall for both indoor or outdoor plants.

Planters and Gutters: 

Use gutters and create a vertical garden. Either purchase plastic gutters or repurpose some old ones. 

Make sure they are 8-12 inches long so that they can support the plants. 

Drill drainage holes that are 6 inches apart. Fill the gutter with potting soil and start gardening. You can also create some beautiful designs with these, just don’t place them in a place where they are exposed to strong winds.

Types of Vertical Garden Designs:

DIY(Do It Yourself): This is an amateur type. You can use common household items to make a vertical garden. Things like gutters, fencing, pots etc.

Vertical Garden Kit: This is a semi-professional type of garden. You can buy a readymade kit for growing plants vertically.

Professional Designs: You can also hire a professional person to create and install a vertical garden. Use this option if you have a very large project or commercial area.

How To Prepare Soil For Vertical Gardens:

Preparing soil for your vertical garden is one of the easiest tasks. It is quite similar to traditional gardening.

A potting mix is best for using in vertical gardens. Opt for a lightweight potting mix, especially if your garden is big in size. If the weight of the mix is heavy the structure might not be able to withstand both the total weight of the soil and plants.

There are ways to make your potting mix lighter. I have discussed different mediums of potting mix in my earlier post. Read it for more clarification.

As the gardens need only small pots or strips of soil it has to be of the best quality. It should have the maximum amount of nutrients for promoting the healthy growth of your plants. Use slow-release fertilisers and wetting agents with the soil mix for better results.

How To Plant In A Vertical Garden:

Before planting check your soil. It should be damp, but not too wet, and loose enough for the roots to spread.

While planting, start from the back and work your way to the front. Plant lush productive plants at the back, it will give you a nice backdrop for your whole vertical garden. Plants such as pole beans grow well along the wall.

For a nice design for your wall, grow vines that have beautiful flowers. Add cucumbers, squash and beans, these all will grow well together. Use smaller varieties so nothing grows out of proportion.

Once you are finished planting the back plant your main vertical plants in the front and to the sides of your vertical garden. Place trellises and other attractive structures, around the garden.

In a vertical garden, plants that are on the top can cast shadows for the plants below them. Plant sun-loving plants on top and shade-loving plants at the very bottom.

What Plants Can Grow in A Vertical Garden?

Choosing the right plant for a vertical garden is very important. Though most of the plants will grow well in a vertical garden not all of them are suitable.

Plants such as pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers etc are good options for vertical gardening.  For more options follow this article on what to grow in a vertical garden.

How To Water Vertical Garden:

The most common way to water a vertical garden is a gravity-drip system. Here you water the top row of the plants and the gravity will gradually pull it to the subsequent layers. It also saves a lot of wastage of water.

You can either use a drip can, irrigation system or watering can.

As most of the time, your vertical garden will be exposed to sun watering becomes very important. Direct exposure to sun and wind causes an increased evaporation rate from the soil. 

If you have added wetting agents to the soil, your watering frequency will be reduced. 

How To Maintain A Vertical Garden:

Routine maintenance of any vertical garden includes weeding, trimming and maintaining an overall look. 

From time to time check on the conditions of the structures for any cracks or instability. 

You might also need to repair or replace some parts of the structure from time to time. 

Some Useful Vertical Gardening Tips:

  • Vertical gardening can support many types of plants. For some plants, you don’t need to give any support as they entwine themselves onto the support. But for many plants, you will have to tie them for support.
  • In vertical gardening, plants are generally more exposed to the sunlight. So you may need to water more frequently than in the traditional form of gardening.
  • Make sure your vertically grown plants don’t shade other plants that also need sunlight. If you have to plant shade-tolerant plants near vertically grown plants.
  • If you live in a windy environment don’t forget to provide windbreaks and make sure the support is sturdy.
  • Add mulch. It will save water from evaporating very quickly. 
  • Use a well-drained good quality potting soil.
what is vertical gardening 1

I hope you have got some useful information on vertical gardens. This is just a basic idea about Vertical Gardening. I will add some more detail on the same in my future blogs.

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