Chapter 1: What Is Vertical Gardening?
Gardening has become quite a popularized activity over the years and many of us start wondering whether or not we can see what all the fuss is about. After all, its benefits are clear. Gardens provide your home a picture perfect environment. They help reduce stress and are great for our planet. The more green we fill the Earth with, the better off we are. Unfortunately, not all have the space to pursue this activity, or so we think. Adding spice and life into your home has never been easier. Thanks to vertical gardening methods, individuals looking to liven up areas of their house or become a little self-sufficient with organic foods can do so. Issues like space and money are of little concern. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That said, like every nourished, healthy plant, we need a strong base to start with. Without one, you’re inviting unneeded risks that can ruin your gardening project. So let’s start seeding our brain with some information, shall we?
How does it work?
While we will discuss the requirements in proper detail later, the basic concept is very simple. Unlike conventional gardening, where you allow your plants to grow in their natural form, vertical gardening requires you to put in a little ‘artificial’ care. You’ll provide nutrients to your plants through a vertical system. You’ll have your vertical surface inserted from the root up and provide nutrition on it. This’ll help to condition your plant to follow upwards. If it’s a little difficult to follow, don’t worry. We’ll dive into the details soon, and you’ll be able to create this magic by yourself in no time.
Does this even work?
Well, it worked for its creators: NASA. This technique was developed as a alternative to our normal agricultural systems. NASA realized how little space would be left on earth and how climate conditions might need to be artificially controlled to grow plants in some areas. But let’s be fair, some plants have already been wall-climbers since their evolution as beings. So this is not a new concept and at times, yields better results than conventional methods.
What kind of plants can be grown in a vertical garden?
You can grow all sorts of plants with this system. Whether you want to fill your vertical garden with flowers or vegetables and fruits; with the proper conditions, you’ll be able to nourish them enough to fruit them beautifully. Many small-spaced owners use this method to produce organic foods at home, instead of buying up expensive organic foods from stores that sell them at higher prices.
How much does it cost?
There are quite a lot of options available for you to choose from, and each has an effect on its costs. You can buy a ready-to-use vertical system or construct your own. You can purchase expensive materials or use simpler items, it all depends on you. That said, these systems usually aren’t very expensive to build, and you could start out with a simple one, just to test the waters.
Where can I grow vertical gardens?
Anywhere space is available. They could be installed inside your house or outside. You can even place them in your office building or room. That’s how flexible this system makes sowing and growing. You could get creative with how you want to use vertical gardens. Individuals have used them to add color to their indoor lounge or even as unique wall separators between rooms.
Is it safe to have indoor systems?
A valid concern when it comes to plants. You’ll obviously need to be a little strategic and figure out some plants that provide healthy amounts of oxygen to your environment, without releasing too much CO2. There are also a few techniques you can use, but this largely depends on the plants being grown.
Can outdoor systems survive harsh weathers or climates?
In some cases, you might want to adjust what you grow according to your area’s climate. For example, if you live in a sunny area, you’ll want to grow plants that have high tolerance to sunlight. In case of harsh weathers, you don’t need to worry much. Most systems are designed to be removable, so you can simply bring your plants inside till the bad weather passes. As we’ll explore later on, you can really get innovative with this technique, or keep it simple and classy. It all depends on your preference. If you’re still on the edge whether or not vertical gardening is for you, let’s dive in further and really talk about how this system can benefit you.
Chapter 2: Sowing Seeds For Tomorrow – Why You Should Have A Vertical Garden
You might be wondering whether this is just another fad created by urban gardeners or whether this system actually provides some amazing benefits. After all, when you’re going to invest your time and money in anything, it better be worth it, right? While it’s true that vertical gardens have been highly popularized in mainstream media, this hype is the real deal. While vertical plants existed, the cost-effective methodology introduced using these systems provide its owners with some real benefit. Heck, we’ll list down 14 reasons why you should definitely invest in a vertical planation system.
The most obvious benefit vertical gardening provides is space. There’s only so much land available when it comes to horizontal gardening. Sooner or later, you’ll end up reaching the end of the patch—and let’s be real; it won’t look so great either. Your garden may end up looking like a clumped up mess. With vertical gardens, however, you’re actually freeing up space and organizing your plants more effectively. There are no limitations to how much vertical space you have, or at least no limitations that you won’t be able to cross. With proper planning, you can have an efficient system that is more powerful than your average garden.
While horizontal gardens can be pretty classy and beautiful, vertical gardens can help enhance that beauty. Since you’ll be going into your project with more space, you’ll be able to plan and construct your garden with more attention to detail and be able to create beauty, instead of simply adjusting it. Everything from arches, gazebos and pergolas can be utilized for your yard’s aesthetics. Not to mention, layered pots, containers and walls can give you the flexibility you need to make your creativity come to life. Whether you want something classy, chic, traditional, loud or soft, vertical gardening can be customized to achieve the look you want in the space you have.
Since vertical gardens can be propped up against your home’s walls, you’ll be adding on an extra layer of protection and security. A vertical garden patch can shield your home from harsh weathers. If you’re living in a rainy zone, you’ll find them great paint protectors; they’ll take in water instead of allowing your walls to get ruined by a shower. Nourishment for them, protection for your walls—it’s a win-win situation. Likewise, for those living in high heat areas, they can protect your paint from direct, high UV rays. In the long run, they’re a part of a cost effective solution to your house’s maintenance.
Hedges have been long used as separators in lawns as a means to increase privacy. But they’re not exactly the best method out there. They require constant care, and you need to be very precise with their trimming for them to look aesthetically pleasing. Nor are they exactly giving you any privacy when it comes to keeping conversations private. Vertical gardening gives you the same utility at a much lower cost. You’re be able to get some privacy—which can be productive and/or beautiful. But there’s more: You’re not just providing yourself with shade. Plants will also provide a noise reduction effect; so you’ll have all the privacy you want, without a dent to your pocket.
Saving costs for home maintenance doesn’t stop with being a simple protector. If you want to increase energy efficiency in your home, vertical plants are great insulators and can really help you save some money whether you live in hotter climates or cooler ones. By layering your home with plants, you’ll get some very effective, natural insulates. If you’re living in harsher environments, this just might be the thing you need. You don’t necessarily need to cover your entire wall with plants, but have pockets, plants or slabs attached to a wall to reap your garden’s insulator-like benefits.
When placed outside and against the upper window sills (or as a barrier-wall), such gardens can act as natural shades. You can even cleverly use plants to create interesting and beautiful shadow illusions at different times of the day. An added benefit? You’ll get a unique, beautiful view of your surrounding as well.
We all get them from time to time. Wear and tear is common inside and outside any apartment or house. Whether indoors or outdoors, vertical gardens could be used to hide an unpleasant wall features. In fact, you can go one step further and beautify the area instead of simply covering it up. If you’re not into growing organics, using flowers would be the perfect thing to add a dash of color and class to your home. Customize flowers to go with your room’s look and nobody will ever know there’s a bad wall behind all that beauty.
Now, if you’re into vertical gardening for its agricultural benefits, you’re getting plenty of those. In fact, you’re probably better off with vertical gardening, than if you used traditional horizontal system. One of the best features being the amount of well grown crops you can grow within your fixed area. As previously stated, you’ll have more room available. Which in this case, can be used to grow more organic food.
Now, if you’re into vertical gardening for its agricultural benefits, you’re getting plenty of those. In fact, you’re probably better off with vertical gardening, than if you used traditional horizontal system. One of the best features being the amount of well grown crops you can grow within your fixed area. As previously stated, you’ll have more room available. Which in this case, can be used to grow more organic food. That said, that’s not the only benefit for at-home, small farmers. You’ll be able to provide each yield with better nutrition focuses on the requirements of each batch. Some plant batches sometimes require a little more nutrition than others. Using this method, you won’t need to mess up any other plants to help one particular plant grow.
As discussed above, vertical planting can be used to create indoor separators as well. Not only are these more cost effective than regular walls, you’ll have more flexibility with your walls as well. Since this divider is flexible, you’ll be able to adjust your room’s size or placement of the divider according to your preference. And unlike other pre-made dividers, its noise reduction ability gives your room the same feel it would have with a regular wall.
There’s no better feeling than taking a whiff of O2. The freshness of your air has a relaxing, motivating effect on you. Not just that, you’re actually taking away bad indoor odors. Plants will absorb Carbon Dioxide, as well as formaldehyde.
Might seem like a bold claim, but it’s our individual efforts of curbing the harmful impact our lifestyle has brought to our ecology. As previously stated, vertical plants act as natural insulators and they’re able to provide high amounts of pure oxygen. But we can go one step further and be environmentally friendly with the materials we use. Repurposing items to create your garden helps reduce costs to recycle them. Soft drink bottles and old boxes are often repurposed as pots for such plants. This not only helps save the world with what you can, you’re actually increasing what you can do with these plants. No need to style them up in traditional beds or pots—be as creative as you like and help improve your ecology, as well as your garden.
Some of us just don’t live in environments or zones where planting is possible. It might be costly to create the proper soil, and it would still need constant treatments. Vertical planting can fix that problem. Instead of using your unusable soil, you can buy some dirt at a cheaper price than your treatment. A greenhouse can be built to place vertical plants inside, so you’re able to control your environment conditions. Tailoring things is sometimes much more effective than treating pre-made things, so if you’re in such a predicament, do give vertical gardening a shot.
Much like controlling a plant’s nutrition or its environment, you’ll be able to protect your plants from animals as well. No birds, pests or pets to accidentally (or otherwise) ruin your plants. Not to mention, you’ll be able to protect your gardens from getting weed infestations and be able to manage them better as well.
All these conditions help optimize plant growth, but the nature of vertical gardening automatically allows for better plant health. For plants that need it, the height can provide them with proper sun exposure and air circulation it needs to grow healthy and strong.
Children are our future, and our planet needs more plants on it to balance the harm we’ve done to our ecology. By having a creative, fun looking garden at home, you can get your child interested in seeing green, and really help promote green values. It’ll be an investment that will pay out for generations. As you can see, vertical gardening is by no means a fluke or a bargain method. You’re getting more benefits than what traditional gardening methods provide and increasing your chances of yielding much better results. Now, many individuals get into vertical gardening for its décor nature, but as we’ve mentioned, it can be a great tool for growing organic foods as well.
Why would I want to grow foods at home anyway?
Each individual effort counts when it comes to our environment and wellbeing. Having organic foods is simply a much better option than eating regular store bought foods. Since vertical farming is so versatile and easy, you might want to consider growing organic foods at home and just see the difference you’ll make to your life and community. Not to mention, vertical gardening is highly sustainable. Not only are you getting short-term benefits, but you’ll be reaping its rewards for years to come. All these principles are what vertical gardening is all about. It’s more than just gardening; it’s an activity you can engage in and be proud of. If you’re ready to get started, let’s dive right into how you can build your very own vertical garden.
Chapter 3: Prepping To Sow
A vertical garden is only as good as you make it. Planning is a crucial step in its development. That said, we’ve repeated how incredibly flexible vertical gardening is, so you’ll be able to develop your own small or big (at least space wise) vertical garden according to your preferences.
What types of vertical garden can you build?
A classic, ageless trend adds beauty and mystic to its environment. It’s probably where the idea of vertical gardening originated. This basically entails covering your entire house structure with plantations, or you can keep it limited to one wall or area. Basically, having wall crawlers or ivy growing over your house with wines and leaves. This is more of an aesthetic design, but one that could be customized with different flowers and plants to stand out as unique and creative method. You don’t have to go with the traditional at all.
If you’re not into an ivy-look and want your plants to be more manageable, using pockets might help. These are essentially, pocket-shape pots that can be attached to walls. Since they’re pots, you can easily remove them from your walls and trim them according to your desired look. Use as many or few as you like—there’s no limit. Heck, people have built office walls using pocket plants alone attached to a simple structure. Not to mention you can add a bit of color using the pockets themselves. Pockets can be commercially bought or made at home using boxes, containers, bags; you name it! It’s a highly flexible way of creating a garden. Again, this might be something you might consider for its aesthetic purposes, though you could still grow a few vegetables or fruits if you employ the right techniques.
This is a great method for flowers and organic produce alike. In fact, if you want to home-grow foods like rice, this might be the best option to use. By tier-ing up your garden into layers, you’ll achieve more space and be able to separate soil for different uses. You can use different size containers or buy premade tiered gardens. Not to mention, it makes your garden look great with minimal effort from your end.
Ever seen plants being grown on horizontal slabs all positioned in a vertical formation? That’s what gutter gardens are. You line horizontal slabs, vertically, and either use small pots or create a space between those horizontal slabs and fill it in with soil and seeds. These small gardens are great for indoor and outdoor use, and you can even grow a few produce items if you’d like. This is quite a flexible method in itself and can be adjusted to utilize the spaces you already have available. It’s also easy to manage and water. Slab can be used to add their own pop of color into the mix and help with the overall look of your garden.
Have some pallet or pallet shaped box lying around? Turn it into a makeshift gutter garden, place in on the ground for a more traditional looking garden or convert a few pieces into a box to utilize the resources you have available. Not only is this cost effective, it’s kind of traditional and gives off a beautiful look by itself.
Get a little traditional by using a trellis to support your plants. Trellis are wooden structures which seem woven into patterns. Even though it’s traditionally used for vines, using the techniques of vertical gardening, you can expand the usage you gain from it. Customize it as you want and if you’re really committed, you can add an arc or even make it as your home’s entrance way to brighten up your home.
PVC Pipe Garden
Another makeshift garden can be created using simple PVC pipes. This is perfect for growing berries or bushy plants. What you need to do is simple; just drill holes into a PVC pipe. Plant the pipe in vertical position and fill it up with soil and seeds. As the plant sprouts, it’ll grow outward and form a bush around the PVC pipe, and you’ll have a perfectly straight bush that looks pleasing and yields some tasty goodies.
Last but not least, we have pots. No need to stick to the traditional, you can add a twist to this traditional container and prop them up on your walls or hang them closely together to give off a more appealing and garden-like look. Now you’re free to adjust and mesh these different styles or bring in your creativity to create something new and wonderful for your house.
When choosing the type of garden you want to invest in, a few things need to be kept in mind:
What Can I Grow In Vertical Gardens?
Unfortunately, not all plants can be grown through this method. Luckily, however, there is a large variety of plants which you can grow in a vertical garden. In many cases, vertical gardens might be the preferred method to use. The amount of space you have largely determines what you specifically can grow. If you really want to grow a plant, try to be creative, and you might find a solution. The most common plants grown in a vertical garden are vine and creeping plants. Most just employ the use of trellis or household structures.
This, however, can be sometimes unintentional as many gardeners aren’t particularly focusing on building a vertical garden. Indoor flower walls are increasingly gaining popularity as well. They add a contrast to your environment and give off a uniqueness you can actually customize. Many gardeners might be looking into becoming at-home farmers. Given small lawn or apartment spaces, many new vertical gardeners might believe this option isn’t available to them. However, contrary to that belief, they have a lot of options available to them. Everything from vegetables, fruits, annuals and perennials can be grown at home, using a vertical garden.
Now obviously, those plants that have natural vines are easier to grow. They maintain and yield better results because of their natural inclination to grow vertically. However, you can use techniques to make non-vertical plants to grow like that as well. Alternatively, you can use smaller varieties of traditionally big plants to grow them at your home. Like using a type of cucumber that can grow stably within your designed structure is still a possibility. Or you could strategically use ties, slings and support items to hold your plants up. But sometimes, it would be more cost effective and cleaner to simply plant something else. Just keep your options open. Having said that, a vertical structure’s features are not the only determinant when it comes to what you can grow. Your location’s climate is perhaps the biggest indicator to what you can grow. If you have a backyard and want to invest, you can build a greenhouse to provide you with a controlled environment with adjustable stats. Shade is an equally important determinant. Just like plants need the sun to grow, they need shade, so they don’t burn due to over exposure.
Different plants have different exposure limits so you might want to do a little research beforehand. Likewise, some plants grow well together and planting others together might be harmful to your entire garden. While you can definitely separate plants in a vertical garden, being informed about this will help you decide which plants you want to grow and which you should probably avoid. Given how popular vertical gardening is, you can take the help of communities within your region or research online to help you determine which plants would grow the best in your area. They’ll even give you tips and tricks for your preferred plants and how to maintain it.
How much depth do you need: 16 inches Required soil temperature: 60 degrees Space between plants: 2-4 inches Preferred structure: Trellis or a tepee You can use a number of different types of beans, but pole beans are the best option as they grow vertically naturally. Good types to try out include, heirloom Kentucky wonder, Helda romano and blue lake pole.
How much depth do you need: 9-15 inches. Required soil temperature: 55 degrees Space between plants: 2 inches. Preferred structure: Pots or pockets. You’ll need to choose a deep alternative since carrots have long running roots. Carrots should always be watered properly and have enough space to grow their roots. Nantes, for example, occupies around 7 inches at an average.
How much depth do you need: 18 inches Required soil temperature: 70 degrees Space between plants: One per pot Preferred structure: Trellis with pots as starting points. Alternatively, you can use strings or other kinds of support. A great variety to try out for beginners is the Salad Bush. It’s disease resistant so you’ll be able to get some practice and some yummy cucumbers out of it.
How much depth do you need: 14-15 inches. Required soil temperature: 70 degrees Space between plants: One per pot. Preferred structure: Similar to cucumbers. These need to be a little more secured than the rest, but shouldn’t be difficult to grow in a vertical garden. Types to try include American heirloom, Little Fingers, purple-blacks and black beauty.
How much depth do you need: 14-16 inches Required soil temperature: 60 degrees Space between plants: One per pot. Preferred structure: Similar to cucumbers and eggplant. With peppers, you have so many different options available. Pick from different colors, shapes and spice levels. Having some handy peppers in your backyard can be a great addition. You can try everything from Anaheim to Thai Dragon for that spicy punch. Or go a little sweet with Giant Marconi or Ariane.
How much depth do you need: 18 inches Required soil temperature: 45 degrees. Space between plants: 6 inches. Preferred structure: Tubes. You’ll need to give potatoes some room, but they’re a good addition to have in your garden. You can grow nearly all kinds of potatoes, but you need to make sure you follow each potatoes instruction properly and make sure you secure them.
How much depth do you need: 18 inches Required soil temperature: 60 degrees Space between plants: One plant per pot. Preferred structure: Similar to cucumbers. Summer squash is more productive than winter squash. Grow compact varieties like ‘Gold Rush’ yellow zucchini, ‘Spacemiser’ green zucchini, or ‘Sunburst’ scallopini (shown).
How much depth do you need: 18 inches Required soil temperature: 60 degrees Space between plants: One plant per pot Preferred structure: Trellis or small wire cage. You can use small wire stakes, or cages, when considering two good options, like the “Bush Celebrity” or the “Early Girl”
There are more alternatives to traditional gardening and ones more in line with vertical gardens—namely Hydroponics and Aeroponics. That said, both these methods are quite expensive and are complicated. Once you’re more seasoned, you might want to explore these options if you’re really into alternative forms of gardening. When you have all this information written down, go back to each type and see which ones fulfills your requirements and preferences. As stated, be creative about your project. People have used everything from small cartons to their old dusty cupboards to build their own mini gardens. The more you enjoy it, the better it’ll be for you and your plants. Likewise, don’t feel limited to just using one type of vertical garden or one category of plants. Mix and contrast different types to help increase your crop yield or beautify your house. You might be springing with ideas by now, but before you take things further, it’s important to understand how you’re going to manage your soil and how to get the best results. Be sure to read chapter 4 before running off to buy some seeds.