By now, most are aware of the positive effects plants have on our environment. We know they filter our air and can improve our moods, but aside from purchasing a few houseplants to liven up an area, how else can plants be incorporated within our environment?
Vertical Gardens – What Are They?
There is a new “green” trend that has taken root in the home-improvement sector: Vertical Gardening, also known as living walls or green walls. This innovative form of gardening allows homeowners to grow a wide variety of plants vertically on their wall. Vertical gardens can vary from simple – using only one or two varieties of plant material – to complex , which incorporates numerous plants to create a makeshift tropical habitat.
How Do Vertical Gardens Work?
Vertical gardens aim to emulate the natural growing conditions of a specific family of plants – Epiphytes. Living walls rely on a simple water pump to circulate water from the ground up. Gravity takes care of the rest. Some vertical gardeners have also taken their garden a step further by adding fish, such as Betas, to small ponds they create at the base of their gardens. Although having a pool of water to continuously sustain your garden is not necessary, it does add an extra sense of tranquility to the surrounding area.
Vertical Gardens Require several basic features:
- Plant material – Depending on the garden’s location, certain plants are more recommended that others.
- Planting matrix – As plants are added to the garden, they will need something to root (attach) to. This can be sphagnum moss, soil, tree bark, or a plastic lattice.
- Irrigation – Because the garden is grown vertically, water does not stay within root’s reach for very long. To sustain plant life, some form of irrigation system must be incorporated.
- Waterproof Barrier – With an irrigation system, comes moisture. To protect the surface on which the garden is grown, some form of barrier protection between it and the surface is needed. This will not only protect the supporting surface, but prevent the garden from detaching due to water damage.
- Structural support – Vertical gardens are very heavy due to the number of water-retaining plants, the water barrier, and water itself. To maintain a safe growing environment for the garden, the surface on which it is attached should be reinforced with weight-bearing material, such as thick wood or steel.
- Lighting – Plants that are used for vertical gardens are often native to tropical regions. This means they are used to two things: lots of humidity and lots of sunlight. To emulate optimal growing conditions, vertical gardens should be located near a light source. This can be natural (sunlight) or artificial (flourescent) lighting.
Plants Grown in a Vertical Garden
Plants found in the Epiphytic category of plants include several different families and genus. These plants are most commonly used in vertical gardens, but others, such as ivy and bromeliads can also be used. Members of the Epiphytic category include:
Aside from improving our daily living conditions, vertical gardens may serve as a way for those who live in small spaces to entertain their gardening hobby without taking up a large area. Vertical gardens can serve as a conversation piece while allowing its owner an outlet to express themselves. Plus, the tranquility a vertical garden provides, along with the soothing sounds of trickling water, adds value to the room in which it is grown.