Ever since coming across Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden I’ve been interested to observe how this technology might transform the home gardening scene. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before we begin running out room for gardens to grow on a horizontal plane. Yet vertical – that’s another dimension altogether.
For most home gardeners the concept isn’t a new one. We’ve been staking tomato plants, espaliering fruit trees and training creepers to grow over undesirable fences for aeons. Yet the thinking behind vertical gardens still seems radically new.
The reason: Whereas all our other vertical gardening exploits centred around plants being grounded in the soil, the vertical garden has absolutely no dependency on the ground. In fact, vertical gardens exist quite separately from soil and do so with inanimate ease.
But for most home gardeners, Patrick Blanc and his artworks are far beyond the comprehension and resources available to them. It’s quite facile to understand that many would file it in the “too-hard-box” and continue growing plants using traditional methods.
However, as we have already experienced with increasing gas prices our conservative views of the world may need to change. Traditional methods of horticulture may become as extinct as dinosaurs. Our interaction with plants and growing mediums will have to change.
So, here’s a challenge for us all – myself included. Maybe we need to diversify a little and learn some new ways of doing things. Which is the reason for producing this post – a DIY guide to creating a vertical garden.
A few helpful links to get your DIY Vertical Garden started
- Some Inspiration – a collage of succulents.
- More Inspiration – a Sydney, Australian urban garden that incorporates vertical gardening practices.
- A beginner’s DIY – here’s an easy how-to to get you started.
- A little more inspiration – just in case the first project got you off on a bad footing here’s some commercial greenwalls [Link since removed].
- A sample video – this video is a little budget but it does show the concepts and ease for starting a DIY vertical garden. It’s the second in a series of about vertical gardening so if you want to watch the first one – and have the patience for it – the link is here.
The basics of a DIY Vertical Garden
- The Frame – for longevity a metal frame is possibly the best option but treated wood can also outlast the vigour of running water.
- The Backboard – PVC sheets are the preferred option but can be substituted with fine, rigid wire mesh (preferably stainless steel).
- The Holding Sheet – a thick sheet of felt will give the best results but a tough hessian can also work well.
The frame is basically the support for the vertical garden. On it, the backboard is adhered, fastened or riveted and then the holding sheet is stapled on top of that. For indoor applications, you can make a well at the bottom with a continuous feed pump moving the water back up and then filtering down through the plants via gravity. The water is usually filled, and refilled with nutrient, that sustains the plants.
If you decide to hang this outdoors then you can do away with the bottom well and just hand water the plants with a watering can.
Basically, the principles of hydroponics are used in this technology so no soil is used for plant growth. Plants are neatly embedded and suspended into the felt which becomes its growing medium.
Vertical gardens can be as simple or as complex as you choose. They can offer you another dimension to growing your plants or they could become living works of art that transform your backyard, balcony or patio. Regardless of how you start one, a vertical garden is a real possibility for any home gardener.