You have lived, loved, laughed and raised children in your home for the past 50 years. During that time, too, you have dug into the hard soil and made gardens flourish. You still have your butterfly garden in the bright sunny spot of the yard, as a matter of fact, that tall tree was planted when your first child was born. The bird bath is by the bird feeder in the purple coneflowers; your chaise lounge is in the shady spot where the slight breeze always caresses your face. You like it here best where you just sit, drink your tea and watch the birds and butterflies.
But now, because of health reasons, you have to sell your home and move. You’re devastated, not just because of moving from your home, you’re also losing your beloved garden. So all you have now is a neatly paved, tiny courtyard with no garden to call your own. The gardener in you is ready to wither away and die; wait, there is hope! Vertical gardening could be the answer.
What is a vertical garden?
A vertical garden is a garden which is grown upright, attached to the exterior or interior of a building. It is also called a living wall or greenwall. The plants which grow in it are rooted in a support which is structurally sound and fastened to a wall. Water and the nutrients for the plants are provided by the greenwall system instead of directly from the ground. Some greenwall systems can be instantly assembled without any professional expertise needed; you just put the structure together, add your potting media and gently put in your plants. Some include a simple irrigation system but you can also hand water and fertilize as needed.
Who are vertical gardens ideal for?
Vertical gardens are wonderful for senior gardeners who have lost their gardens through relocating or having to downsize. If you’re a senior in this situation, then a vertical garden may be the perfect solution. You can even bring along some of your favorite plants and flowers from your previous garden to put in your new vertical garden. You can use the vertical garden as a living screen for privacy too. Planting fresh vegetables on your green wall and gathering the harvest is guaranteed to make you a hit with your new neighbors. Plus, with vertical gardening, you won’t have to be on your knees or bending over and suffering from a sore back at the end of the day. Greenwalls can grow on the tiniest of balconies and in the smallest of spaces and still attract those butterflies. A comfy chair, a gentle breeze and tea- heaven!
Conditions needed for a vertical garden or greenwall
When you are considering putting up a vertical garden, consider how much sunlight will reach the space you choose. If your area is shaded by other buildings though, don’t give up hope. Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage and other greens grow really well in limited sunlight. If you are fortunate enough to have a bright sunny spot in which to put your greenwall, then you can plant tomatoes, peppers, beans, carrots, radishes and potatoes too. Also, vertical gardens with large root spaces are deep enough to plant vine crops like pumpkins, cucumbers and squash. All you have to do is add potting mix and top up with liquid fertilizer now and then for a bumper crop of fresh veggies. You can also install a vertical garden on a fence, a deck or your balcony to grow whatever you have the green thumb and appetite for.
Things to keep in mind when gardening in a vertical garden
There are some things to keep in mind when gardening on a vertical garden or greenwall:
- some vertical garden systems are portable. They can be moved from the outside to the inside on wheels. You can also relocate your garden on wheels to where the sunlight is best on your balcony or patio when needed. The steel systems can be dismounted from the wall if you relocate
- you will be putting in less physical work in a vertical garden. There isn’t any tilling involved and you can still garden in the traditional way except UP. You can also protect your plants from soil borne pests easier and the dog won’t be burying his bone among your tomatoes!
- water does not evaporate as quickly from the larger volume, soil based, vertical garden system, as it does in small pots, which help with water conservation
- installing the right vertical garden will enable you to get your hands dirty again AND save a few trips to the greengrocer!
Vertical gardens and greenwalls can be the perfect solution for a ‘displaced’ gardener. Wherever there is dirt, plants, seeds, water and sun, you will still be able to indulge in your beloved activity.