DIY Vertical Gardens Book

Spring is here and if you are still hesitant about setting up a DIY vertical garden or Greenwall at home, rejoice, help is at hand 24/7. This little book 'DIY Vertical Gardens...Expert Advice for Greenwalls and Living Walls at Home' by Keri Algar is a little 'must have' gem.  I am happy to promote this easy read because Keri empowers and educates even the pinkest thumb to succeed with creating a vertical garden at home without having a horticultural degree!

Keri's research has brought you a book choc full of tips and 'I can do this' techniques for creating a healthy, well built vertical garden or greenwall that will GIVE more than it will take out of you to manage.

In this little pocket wizard, you will find easy to follow, horticultural advice for growing lush foliage, vegetables and flowers in small spaces, indoors and out.

But there's much more-  you'll find home remedies for insecticides and fungicides which will save you money. If you are a parent worried about little Johnny getting dirt on his hands, read the section on why bugs in soil are good for the brain!

Did you know that succulents can suffer sunburn? What are plants telling you when they go 'leggy'?

There's an excellent chapter on potting mixtures and growth media with Australian horticulturist and Greenwall expert John Daly and whether you're into veggies or flowers, there's a handy troubleshooting guide and some quick reference checklists to keep you gardening like a pro.
Of course I can't forget to thank Keri for including the steel system I sell too.  Thanks Keri, I also love the way you've scattered quotes around the pages like little seeds helping our imaginations to germinate.

10 Questions to ask yourself when planning a Vertical Garden or Greenwall

1.      What type of Vertical Garden do you want- an aesthetic focal point, food producing, camouflaging, insulating? All of these?

2.      What is the climate like around your site- sunny, exposed, windy, heavy rainfall?

3.      Does another building cast a ‘shadow’ over your ‘garden’ wall? If so, plant choice is critical.

4.      How many hours of natural sunlight a day will your intended greenwall receive?

5.      Is your wall/fence sound enough to carry a mounted greenwall system or do you need a freestanding one?

6.      Can you cater for drainage or excess ‘run off’ after a heavy downpour?

7.      What visual ‘look’ do you seek from the wall? Free form with leaf movement in a breeze, tight and geometrically patterned? Mixed foliage, colourful flowers or veggies and herbs?

8.      If you choose a mounted hydroponic system, have you allowed for the battens, wallboard and many felt layers behind the plants or other ‘extras’ required for successful performance of this type of greenwall system?

9.      Where will the reservoir and pump be located for the hydroponic systems?

10.    Is maintenance for the vertical garden system complex/costly and will your electricity bill    soar?

Choose the type of Greenwall system first by researching soil- based versus hydroponic systems THEN once you have decided which vertical garden system suits your needs and lifestyle best, consult a reliable professional or wise guy at your local nursery to help in selecting the right plants.

A vertical garden or greenwall should give more than it takes – it should be:

·        Stunning to look at and/or productive through all the seasons of the year so that it can feed your senses and you can enjoy it’s abundant lushness and delicious benefits

·        As low maintenance as possible for self – management OR if a large scale, commercial installation, only incur ongoing fees from a professional as necessary

·        Accessible enough to enable you to replace plants, fertilise and tip prune maybe twice a year

·        Dense with plants who ‘get on well together’ as far as size and maximum growth go so there is no fighting for dominance or survival

·        Designed with plants grouped according to their love of the same servings of food and drink and quality of light exposure

·        Easily relocatable should you wish to take it with you when you move

Are Designers Losing Ground by Not Offering Their Clients the Benefits of Vertical Gardens?

12 years ago, ‘vertical gardens’ was a lost little keyword in a huge Google forest.  “A passing fad, just a trend” many people said, as a crazy French botanist started cladding high rise buildings in Europe with living plants. A risky investment to attract buyers indeed, especially in this ‘sun burnt’ country’! Many designers and developers thought so, no one really knew much about looking after these Greenwalls either. Fast forward to today and with the focus on a cleaner environment, healthier living and a demand for home grown produce on the doorstep, vertical gardens are definitely IN and if you are selling a property, this WOW feature brings great return on investmentPRD nationwide Newcastle director Mark Kentwell believes gardens can have “a massive impact on the appeal to a buyer”.

Studies have shown that vegetation is essential for our well being. Productivity rises and patients heal faster in environments where vegetation is present. Vertical gardens also have a special place in the care of patients with dementia, sensory stimuli associated with gardens is being used to provoke memories in reminiscence therapy. With over 60% of the world’s population expected to be living in cities by 2030 we need to mitigate the urban heat island effect and provide food. Melbourne’s goal is to have a green canopy of 40% by 2040. Greenwalls combat pollution, reduce heating/cooling bills and have an important role to play in future urban farming. Strong arguments to support developers’ planning submissions.

How many designers are offering their clients this asset as ‘the norm’ though? Real estate agents are finding that apartments with a vertical garden or units retrofitted with a ‘green’ wall for food production are more attractive to potential purchasers than properties without this asset.

 Including this popular yet practical design feature in property packages, whether for commercial or residential clients, will keep developers at the frontline of their industry. Designers can save clients exhaustive hours of research and uncertainty by installing a reliable, ‘ready to go’ vertical garden system that is easy to maintain.  Vertical garden kits are available for builders to install themselves which enables them to instantly add a stunning point of difference to their properties without further outsourcing.

What a huge difference designers could make to the lifestyles of those who have ‘lost’ their gardens through downsizing or moving into Aged Care facilities.  Biophilic design cannot be ignored for much longer so I would encourage designers to embrace the role that vertical gardens and living walls can play here. Vertical kitchen gardens help schools to wage war on childhood obesity. Hotels, colleges and office blocks are ripe for makeover lushness via a ‘green’ wow feature.  A smart designer surely is gaining ground if they include this ‘feel good’ asset as an essential part of the biophilic beautification of our surroundings and the future health of us all?