Owning a home on a quarter acre plot is becoming as difficult to acquire as a gold medal on the Australian Olympic team. For this reason, many of us have been forced to think vertically, rather than horizontally, when it comes to living spaces and garden areas.
If you want to block out ugly neighbours, transform your home into a more tranquil space, or simply fancy indulging your green thumb, we’ve got your guide to creating a horticultural wonderland at home.
The versatility of a vertical garden means almost any materials will work as a base for your arrangement. Consider using one, or some, of the following:
- Old wooden pallets
- Lattice columns
- Hanging pots
- Old ladders or chests of drawers
- Plastic bottles hung on string
- Stacked milk crates (plastic or wood) or mason jars
- Hanging tin buckets
- Rain gutters (for an edgy, industrial look). Remember to make drainage holes in the bottom of the gutters to ensure optimal drainage
- Old picture frames
- Hanging shoe organisers or hessian sacks/bags
To make things even simpler, you can even buy DIY kits that include mounting panels and pots ready to go.
Constructing The Frame
Whether you plan to place your vertical garden inside or out (balconies are ideal), there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Think of your vertical frame as a burger, with the frame and plastic sheeting (PVC sheets are best at keeping moisture off surrounding walls) sandwiching a layer of fabric sheets (usually felt). The sheets of fabric are actually the base against which the plants will grow, and provide retained moisture to root systems.
Soil For The Soul
Once you’ve picked your materials it’s time to start thinking about soil and potting mix. Don’t skimp on quality here, because good quality soil will make all the difference when it comes to the health of your vertical oasis.
Opt for a mix that includes water crystals and water retention qualities so the plants remain hydrated even when not tended to. Water the soil (preferably with Seasol) after it is placed in pots or hangers and leave it to settle for a few days before planting anything.
Note: you can set up a sophisticated irrigation system with filters, valves and drippers that will keep the fabric layers wet at all times, but standard watering tactics are good enough for the average vertical garden so save yourself the expense and stick with a watering can.
Ideal Plants For Vertical Gardens
Do some research to guard against failure. Choose plants that suit the conditions your home provides. E.g. if you have a balcony that receives a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day, pick plants that require sunlight. Also consider humidity, temperature and wind conditions, particularly for outdoor setups.
No matter the conditions, plants boasting shallow roots and compact size are best. Keep similar plants together to make the watering and fertilising process less confusing and more efficient.
In general, the following plants will thrive in most environments. In other words: these suckers are hard to kill!
- Ferns: ferns of all shapes and varieties need little maintenance and are hardy in tough conditions.
- Herbs: herbs love sunshine, so allow for adequate exposure to planting of basil, oregano, parsley and mint
- Succulents: succulents are the cats of the plant world and rarely require attention. They will grow in sunlight or shade (though check each plant for specific care instructions) and place little to no strain on your household water usage.