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In an age where over-population has become a major problem around the world, many people are forced to live in small spaces, especially those residing in urban areas. Since they don’t have enough space for a yard, most people just haven’t got enough space for gardening.
If you’re a gardening fan but you haven’t got enough space to have a garden outdoors, we’ve got good news for you. Now, you can set up your own vertical garden indoors or just outside your home even if you haven’t got any garden space at all. But with all the options available, how do you choose the right type of garden for you?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the different types of vertical gardens to help you decide.
What are Vertical Gardens?
Vertical gardening is a creative gardening technique that allows you to grow plants on panels that are vertically suspended. You’ll be able to use any space you have in your home or office for growing various types of plants. What’s great about them is that they’re easy to main and can provide a pop of color to your living space.
Types of Vertical Gardens
Based on various features and characteristics such as the style of the installation, the structure, the materials used and the distinctive growing systems, vertical gardens can be divided into three categories: green facades, green walls and free-standing gardens. Here’s a closer look at each type in more detail.
1. Green Facades
This can be described as the most traditional prototype version of vertical gardening. In this method, the outward exterior of a building is covered with plants that mount up or hang down along or across the walls. There are two different styles of green facades, depending on the way the vegetation is planted. These include direct and indirect green facades.
- Direct Green Facade
This system involves the use of self-climbing plants such as vines. They’re planted in the soil or potted on the base of the building. As they grow, they cling to the surface of the walls directly since they don’t have any props or structures to support them.
The ideal plants for direct green facades are self-clinging plants like Boston and English ivy, Virginia creeper and climbing hydrangea. This is because these plants have natural shoots which can stick on to almost any surface. Therefore, this could be the most inexpensive and low maintenance type of vertical garden.
- Indirect Green Facades
In this case, specific supportive mechanisms are built along the façade, providing something for the plants to hang on to. You can use various materials for this like cables, ropes, steel, plastic, wood and aluminum, to name a few. Each of these materials are different when it comes to cost, weight, strength, thickness and durability, so it’s important to choose the one that suits your gardening design the best.
For example, if your design is planned on a low budget and if you want to keep it as environmentally friendly as possible, you can always use materials such as wood or natural fiber ropes to build the supportive structures. However, when it comes to durability, these might not be the best option since they could decay easily when continuously exposed to water and sunlight. If longevity and resilience is what you’re after, you might want to go for steel or plastic instead.
For indirect green facades, you’ll find there’s a wide range of plants to choose from. Since you have structures to support the plants, you won’t be limited to just self-climbers like those used for direct facades.
Best Plants for Indirect Green Facades
Here are some of the most common types of plants used for indirect green facades.
- Plants with twirling leaves and stems: These plants use their leaves or stems to twirl around everything they touch and spread throughout the surface by doing so. If you’re choosing these, you’ll need a type of trellis to support them. Some examples of these plants include: jasmine, pole beans, Clematis, morning glories and honeysuckle.
- Scrambling plants: Even though scramblers have long and supple stems, they are unable to grow upwards on their own without some external support. So after planting, it is necessary to tie them into some kind of supports from time to time, that they can grip onto and spread around. Examples of scrambling plants include rambling roses, bougainvillea and brambles.
- Plants with tendrils: These have tendrils that sprout out along the stems and the leaves to find something to hold onto as they climb up. Due to this reason, installing a supportive structure made with steel rods, cables or ropes would be the perfect thing to do when planting these. Sweet pea, grapes, passionflowers and Chilean glory flowers are some examples of plants with tendrils.
2. Green Walls
These are also called plant walls or living walls. This unique method of vertical gardening is different from the conventional style of green facades. In this method, the plants are planted directly in a vertical, upright structure like a building wall.
Unlike green facades, green walls can accommodate most of the small and medium sized plants. These include vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, flower plants and other ornamental plants.
Hydroponic and Substrate Systems
There are both soil-based and water-based green walls known as hydroponics and substrate systems. Knowing about these systems is important when it comes to choosing the most suitable system for you.
- Hydroponic System: A hydroponic green wall system delivers nutrients to plants via water instead of soil. Plants are on thin panels or screens without soil and these panels are fixed indirectly to a wall supported by a base panel. There’s also another absorptive layer connected to the planted panels which supply the necessary moisture and nutrients such as minerals.
- Soil-Based System: This is a soil-based system that involves attaching or hang various types of soil filled planters and holders (eg. plastic and glass bottles, jars, pots and small metal containers) in which to grow the plants. This type of wall can be watered through simple irrigation methods or manually.
3. Free-Standing vertical gardens
In some cases, you may not have a fixed wall or any other vertical structure to set up a vertical garden. In this case, a free-standing garden would come in handy. Free-standing vertical gardens, as the name suggests, are capable of standing on their own without any support and the plants are grown in planters that are usually portable.
Free-standing vertical gardens are typically built in such a way that when poured from the top, water will flow down gradually to the bottom. As a result, all the planters will have enough water.
Comparing Different Types of Vertical Gardens
Of the three types of vertical gardens, green facades are the least expensive and easiest to maintain. On the downside, you have limited choices when it comes to plants, since only climbing plants will work. Having a green façade indoors can be very impractical since the plants should be planted at the base of the wall and directly in the soil. There’s also not much room for creativity.
On the other hand, green walls and free-standing vertical gardens are highly customizable, which allow you to get creative and plant almost anything you want. These types of vertical gardens, however, can be a lot more expensive and will need to be maintained and cared for daily.
When considering the expenses, hydroponic green walls will cost you a lot of money. You’ll have to buy various types of equipment that are significantly built for it such as planting panels and permeable layers to supply nutrients to plants. This is also not an easy system to set up, so if you’re going for a soil-less, panel based vertical garden, you’ll definitely need the advice of a professional.
Free-standing vertical gardens are mobile and quite easy to take care of. Of course you’ll have to spend a little extra money initially on the garden, but you can cut down on your expenses in the long run by making your own. An added advantage of free-standing vertical gardens is that moving and re-planting your vegetation would be much easier than with green facades and green wall systems.
Just simply moving it to the preferred location and rearranging the plants will do the trick.
What’s the Best Type for You?
When choosing a vertical garden system, it’s important select one that would serve your needs and expectations. If your sole purpose of creating a vertical garden is just decorating your outdoor walls, a green facade would be perfect.
However, if you want to have an indoor garden and harvest vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, soil-based green walls would be the perfect choice.
If you’re searching for something that can be implemented and created on a larger scale such as commercial buildings, soil- less, hydroponic living wall systems would be most practical choice to make.
The Take Away
Now that you know about the different types of vertical garden systems and what to take into consideration when designing your own, deciding on the right one to suit your needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
If you’d like to start your own vertical garden, you can purchase a vertical garden system or take a look at our guide on how to start your own.