Although vertical gardening has been around for a while, it recently became more popular among urban gardeners. For those that are new to the concept of vertical gardening, this article covers the basics, answering questions like, what is vertical gardening, types of vertical gardening, benefits and demerits of vertical gardening.
Many casual farmers for whom growing vegetables is a hobby practice this system of gardening all the time. With a bit of ingenuity, flowers, vegetables, and fruits can be grown using this method in multiple ways. Chances are, you must have come across folks in different places planting in pots and stacking them on layers of shelves, supporting the plants from beams, or growing crops against a wall. These are just a few examples of the infinite possibilities of vertical farming.
What is Vertical Gardening?
Vertical gardening is an innovative and productive gardening system that utilizes a bottom-up or top-down approach to growing different types of vegetables and crops. This is in stark contrast to a regular farming system where crops are grown outwards.
While the term ‘vertical gardening’ might seem avant-garde, it is actually very common and has been around since ancient times, although it became more popular among city gardeners, over the last couple of years.
In this article, we would outline some of the most important and common vertical farming options and reasons you might want to give it shot. We’d also briefly look at some of the cons so you know exactly what you are getting into.
Types of Vertical Gardening Systems
One of the best things about vertical gardening is that you are only limited by your creativity. It can be done indoors at homes or offices, or outdoors on the patio, backyard, or even your fence and walls. Experts even incorporate aeroponic, hydroponic, or aeroponic techniques in their vertical gardens if they want to eschew the traditional methods of using soil to grow plants.
That said, there are literally hundreds of vertical gardening systems. Below are some of the most popular types:
Trellis or arbor vertical gardens: Using trellises to support plants is a popular vertical gardening technique. Gardening trellises are either freestanding support systems or are attached to planters, walls, or fences. Trellises are sold in different shapes and sizes but if you are handy with tools, you could create yours using wire or wood. You’d have the advantage of picking a shape or size that matches your space if you decide to DIY.
Arbors are similar to trellises but are typically found at garden entrances or over garden pathways. Arbor plant support systems can either be arched or squarish in shape and are commonly designed with latticework on the sides for climbing plants to clutch onto.
Freestanding vertical gardens: This is a complete gardening system consisting of vertical garden frames and the plants that grow on the frames. Done correctly, it can easily transform into a pergola invariably extending your living space and the length of time you can spend outside in the shade.
Because the system is all about not planting on the ground, ingenious use of various types and sizes of pots and planters are utilized to create the garden. This gardening system is perfect for growing plants on rooftops, decks, patio, etc.
Living/Green wall systems: Green walls, whether freestanding or attached to building walls, are also a popular means of growing different kinds of vegetables. Herbaceous plants, shrubs, and even small trees can be grown on green walls.
Here, plants in containers are placed strategically across the face of a wall. Sometimes, modular panels take the place of containers on the wall.
Living walls can be situated outdoor or indoors though the requirements for healthy plants would be different.
There are different types of living wall systems. A typical involves packing the plant-growing medium into containers while excess water is collected using drip trays.
Another type of living wall is linked to hydroponic planting systems. The plants are simply embedded in fixed media like horticultural foam or felt mat. The media holds sufficient moisture to nourish the plants.
Tower gardens: Made from wood, metal fencing, or plastic, these are basically vertically elevated container gardens. Stacked pots or planters can be used to create uncomplicated gardens. But if something fancier is more your thing, you can purchase intricate tower gardens from commercial farm shops.
Tiered garden: Tiered gardening is recommended for urban dwellers wishing to maximize space especially if there is no wall space. This type of garden is essentially arranging as many narrow beds as possible to look like a staircase.
Also loosely referred to as a diagonal gardening system, the plants are made to grow up instead of out.
Hanging gardens: This is simply arranging regular gardening pots or baskets and suspending them from a wall, fence, deck, or balcony. Though watering can take up much time, that is offset by the ease of replacing, changing or moving individual plants.
This is probably the easiest way to create a vertical garden anywhere. The arrangement of the pots can be done symmetrically to coordinate plants and colors for artistic results.
What are the benefits of Vertical Gardening?
You won’t have to look too far for some of the benefits of vertical gardening. There are tons of them. There are also some downsides though.
If you are sitting on the fence, perhaps the benefits outlined below would help nudge you into taking a definitive decision whether to take it up or not.
That said, we believe the advantages far outweigh the cons. Take a look and see if you agree with us.
Requires less space – The point of vertical gardening is the optimal use of small spaces. Practically any space can be used to grow plants vertically and in the best-case scenario, this doesn’t compromise the quality or quantity of the harvest.
Easy to maintain – Once you get started on your vertical garden, you’d quickly realize how easy it is to maintain the setup. Gardening chores like pulling weeds (if any) are reduced while bending or crouching to access, water, or harvest the plants is almost non-existent. This should be good news to seniors or people with bad knees and back.
Unlimited customization – You can simply allow your creativity free reign and choose how you want the garden to look. And if you are not satisfied, you can conveniently and easily change the orientation or setup of the garden.
Beautify your space – Whether indoors or outdoors, a well-planned and executed vertical garden adds beauty to an otherwise ordinary-looking or unattractive wall or area. The wall or space would even look spicier with plants of different colors.
Healthier plants – The simple act of growing plants upwards increases airflow. With more and better air, the plants are less prone to rot and apt to grow healthier and faster. Also, since the plants are above the ground (soil), they get natural protection against soil-borne pests and diseases.
Improved air quality – As well as improving the aesthetics of the home, the plants also improve the quality of air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing beneficial oxygen into the air.
Research from many reputable organizations indicates that apart from removing carbon dioxide, certain plants can remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, etc., from the air. Plants known for their purification potentials include chrysanthemums, weeping figs, devil’s ivy, and lady palms.
Provide privacy – Apart from adding beauty to your garden and making unsightly walls look glorious, outdoor vertical gardens can be used to create super cool garden rooms where you can sit and relax away from the prying eyes of neighbors.
While it does have tons of benefits, vertical gardens also come with a few downsides. Some of these include:
– The startup and maintenance cost
– Limited size and quantity of plants due to the small space
– Some act as sun-blockers to low growing plants
– Wall-based vertical gardens might release moisture on the walls leading to molds and damage to the walls.
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