27 Oct 2011

How to Build your own Vertical Garden – Part II.

Posted by bcsands

Vertical gardens are beautiful and impressive – and also a fantastic way to maximise space in a small garden. The scale of your project is up to you – you can cover a small ugly piece of fencing or a whole wall of your house!

Getting Started with your Vertical Garden

The backbone of a vertical garden is the framing or panelling behind it – this is the basic structure to which everything else is attached. You can make your own frame, or buy a pre-made one – some systems include everything you need to construct the garden other than the plants!

If you are making your frame, you can use metal or mesh, which is very durable as long as you choose a metal that will not rust, or wood, which is easy to work with.

Whatever you choose to use, it must be strong enough to hold your plants and any growing media, and remember it will be heavier when wet. If you use wood use a type that will not rot, such as marine ply or treated wood that is resistant to water – remember that it will be in contact with water.

The frame can be free-standing (although you must ensure that it has a solid base or even attach it to the ground so it won’t topple over in high winds or if somebody or something falls into it), or you can attach it to a wall – remembering that the wall must be strong enough to support the complete structure.  If attaching your garden to a wall, ensure it is far enough away for sufficient air to circulate so that damp will not damage your wall – or introduce a layer of waterproofing between the your panel and the wall.

Growing medium

You have several choices of growing medium. The simplest is to use a non-organic growing medium such as felt, hessian or other textile, shaped into pockets to hold the plants. Attach one sheet to your board as a ‘background’ and then staple additional pieces of the textile to the background to create the pockets that your plants will grow in. The roots will grow through the textile.

Irrigation system

To create an irrigation system, you will need a water container or reservoir that runs the length of the base of your frame (if you position this behind the frame no-one will see it) and a filter pump in the reservoir. Attach sufficient piping to the pump to run up the side of your frame, across the top and down the other side back to the reservoir. Make series of small holes in the piping that runs along the top and situate it so that these holes are in contact with the insulation so that it can absorb the water. You may need to experiment with the number of holes – you want sufficient water running through your system to ensure that water is distributed evenly down through your garden. Extending the pipe back down to the reservoir will allow any surplus to run back into the system, and using a reservoir which is the length of your frame means that surplus water that runs down the garden can be recirculated.

Easier ways to Build a Vertical Garden

If this seems too complicated, there are a couple of simpler alternatives that can have stunning results.

The most effective is a lattice, covered in pots – if you choose the right plants, ultimately they will cover the whole lattice and the pots.  Attach your lattice securely to a wall. Drill a small hole in plastic pots – big enough to take the bottom part of a ‘S’ shaped hook – you will simply hook the planted pots on to the lattice. Use green pots, so they will blend in. Pot your plants in the pots and attach them to the lattice. Water regularly and watch them grow!

An even easier way is to use climbing plants planted in pots or the ground to cover a wall. Rather than letting them find their own way up your brickwork or using a visible lattice, try attaching a fine mesh to the wall. This should be almost invisible – particularly once your plants are flourishing.

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