Creative Tips for Planting a Vertical GardenJessica Peace
Whether it’s Marks & Spencer stores with majestic vertical gardens growing up their external walls or the creative ways millennials can make the most of their rented flat’s tiny balcony, there is no doubt that vertical gardens are big news. Mounted picture frames filled with tiny succulents, repurposed shoe racks with edibles planted in the pockets, and terracotta towers cascading with blooms all count as part of this growing trend.
With a little bit of creativity, a few plants from your local garden centre, and a vertical corner just waiting to be brought to life, there’s no reason for anyone to give up having a garden due to lack of space. We’ve created this handy guide on building your own vertical garden, with some great ideas on how to get creative, so you can get started on growing your own herbs, decorating with pretty blooms, or even supplementing your food shop with a beautiful vertical garden. Happy gardening!
Work with Your Space
The first step in creating a beautiful vertical garden is deciding where you’re going to put it. If you want to build a wall of plants you’ll need to first select a wall that is suitable in terms of structure and position. Whether your garden is going to be inside or outside, the amount of sun it gets will determine what type of vertical garden you should choose and also what type of plants you can grow. If you want a luscious wall of green foliage it is likely you’ll need a shady spot, but a leaning tower of pizza seasoning will need plenty of sun for the herbs to thrive.
Vertical garden walls tend to get very damp, so if you’re planning for that style of garden you will need an outside wall that can stand the water or you’ll need to protect the wall. A freestanding vertical garden is a much better option for renters or indoor gardens, as they are less likely to cause any damage.
Check for Structure
When it comes to choosing your structure, whether it is a garden wall or a specially designed planter, it is important to make sure it can cope with the weight of the plants you are choosing to grow on it. Be aware that some walls may not be suitable for growing climbing plants on, as they can affect the integrity of the wall. The supporting wall must also be able to withstand a lot of moisture, although it is possible to use polythene cloth to create a vapour barrier along the back of your vertical garden if this is a concern. Also, bear in mind that you will need to be able to reach your garden to water, prune, and maintain it, so it’s best not to design one that soars above your head with no way of reaching the top!
Pick Your Plants
You can grow all types of plants in your vertical garden, from delicious edible treats to beautiful seasonal flowers. It is usually best, however, to pick light plants with shallow root stocks, otherwise you run the risk of your garden becoming overburdened as it matures. For an edible garden, plants like herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce can reliably be grown vertically. Create different textures with different types of herbs you use in your kitchen and add colour with small fruits or berries. Mostly, edibles do better in the sun, so make sure you’re not planning on growing a feast in a shady corner or you might end up disappointed come harvest time. For a shadier position, try growing foliage like ferns and bromeliads, which create beautiful rich colours and textures without requiring too much maintenance.
Plan for Irrigation
One of the trickier aspects of a vertical garden is keeping it evenly watered, as gravity dictates that the plants at the bottom tend to get a larger dousing than those at the top. There are a variety of options to make sure your plants are receiving the water they need, depending on how much time and money you have to invest. A simple garden hose is fine for watering your garden, although it can be quite labour intensive to make sure it is getting all the care it needs. Many people find watering their garden relaxing, however, so if this is you then a hose should be all you need. If you’re on a budget but don’t have much time, soaker hoses or sprinklers can be used.
With all of these methods, you’ll need to make sure the plants at the bottom aren’t becoming overwatered, as the moisture tends to run down into the bottom of the garden. For a more professional standard garden, you can even install a specially designed irrigation system, which will make sure all your plants are watered evenly. Alternatively, specially designed wall hangings like florafelt are a brilliant way to get good irrigation without the expense of a high-tech system.
Now you know all the nitty gritty details for setting up your vertical garden, we can get to the fun bit: designing it! Your imagination is the limit when it comes to making a vertical garden, but we’ve rounded up a few of the easiest and coolest designs out there.
- Full wall – If you want maximum drama and you have a large wall you can dedicate to your garden, a full wall of plants is a stunning option. Whether you want a tangled jungle, a vertical meadow or a stripy supply of kitchen herbs, a full wall vertical garden is bound to be a showstopper.
- Growing Art – For those with limited space or who want a temporary vertical garden, creating growing art by planting in a picture frame which can be hung on the wall is a fun option. You can hang it up outside or in, for the ultimate conversation piece.
- Climbing Plants – If you don’t think your gardening skills are up to a whole host of plants, try growing a climbing plant up one wall. You can even grow it from pot to pot in the house for a spectacular cascade of foliage.
- Pot Towers – Building a tower out of stacked pots or boxes is a good way to maximise a small space with minimal DIY. Get creative and try planting in the drawers of an old dresser pulled out to make steps, or between the cracks of a wooden pallet.
–Recycled Bottles – Old plastic bottles can be hung up to make great vertical gardens. Hang them sideways and cut out a long strip, or cut them in half to accommodate plants that have deeper roots.
Pop into one of our garden centres by Alexandra Palace, Wandsworth or Berkhamsted and we’ll be more than happy to help you choose the perfect structure and plants for your vertical garden. Alternatively, head over to our homepage for further inspiration.