Vertical Gardening adds life, depth, and a touch of whimsy to an otherwise horizontal existence in the garden. For people living in an apartment or small outdoor space, it also creates more space to grow your beloved plants and brings in a touch of artistic style. As an additional bonus, you are raising the plants up off the ground, preventing cats and some insects from damaging the plants and it thwarts rabbits from eating your bounty.
The godfather of vertical gardening, French Botanist Patrick Blanc, foresaw the need for creating a new way to grow and raise plants. This need led him to create the concept of vertical gardening. Since then, he has created living works of art on such structures as the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris and the French Embassy in New Delhi. His works are not only ingenious in their practicality, but they are also stunning visual displays.
Now our vertical garden will most likely not be as dramatic as a Patrick Blanc work, but it can still be both beautiful and functional. Here are a few basics that will allow your gardening creativity run wild…
First off – The Benefits
- Great for a small or limited space. With a vertical garden, you can turn even a concrete shared common area into a mini utopia.
- Avoid mutilation by fauna. As mentioned before, it discourages animals, such as cats and rabbits, from eating the plants or using them as their own personal privy.
- Create a work of Art. Vertical gardens provide depth and visual backdrops to an outdoor, as well as an indoor, space.
- Great for indoors. This type of garden also lends itself well to indoor spaces. An added benefit is that is cleans the stale indoor air and adds a touch of the outside into your home.
- Provides easy access to those with limitations. By bringing the plants within easy reach off the ground, vertical gardens allow many people the ability to garden. Just make sure to arrange them so that they are not too high.
Most people are familiar with trellises and teepee stakes to support the growth of vines and some vegetables. If this is a structure you use or have used in the past, then you have been vertical gardening without even knowing it. Trellises are wonderful for displaying flowering vines such as the Yellow Jasmine Vine on brick walls or as an outdoor room divider. Teepee stakes on the other hand can create depth in the outdoor space by lifting flowers and vegetables, such as zucchini and bell peppers, up off the ground. For heavier fruiting plants, such as melons, encase the ripening fruit in a net and hang from the supports. This will keep the weight of the vegetable from breaking it off from the stem and allow it to continue to grow. Another advantage to growing vegetables away from the ground is the fact that the side of the vegetable that would be touching the earth will not become white, and thus a more beautiful harvest.
Tubes may a bit unorthodox, but create a new and unique way to grow plants vertically. One plant that is well suited to life growing from holes cut in a PVC pipe is strawberries. Just cut holes along a tube of PVC pipe, cap one end, fill with dirt, cap the other end, plant the strawberries, hang the planter and water. For detailed instructions, see this article on how to create a strawberry planter. Strawberries not your cup of tea? Try hens and chicks or experiment with different plants to get the desired result.
Small Wall Mounted Planters
There are a multitude of planters that can be hung from walls. Whether they are wooden walls, brick, concrete, or stucco, you are limited only by your imagination. You can try the traditional, such as clay pots hung from the wall or try growing chives or rosemary in a nontraditional container such as a sconce. Beware, though, of the beautiful glass bulbs that just beg to be used in your artistic vision. There is a reason why they earned the nickname, “glass coffins”.
Other great unusual containers can be created from hanging canvas shoe organizers or similar plastic structures. Think, also of a square made of wood or plastic with individual slots for various plants. Both ideas make for good containers for herbs like tarragon, peppermint, dill and basil. Place this piece of living sculpture along a wall on the balcony or in your kitchen for an aromatic work or art.
Are your creative juices flowing yet? Then take a moment to think about a vertical element you would like to incorporate into your garden. Just a few things to remember: Vertical gardens require watering more frequently due to the lost of moisture from runoff and evaporation.