There are many ways, in which one can beautify a residential or commercial space. One way, is through the use of plants, which not only add beauty to the décor but also bring freshness to the atmosphere. “Greenery helps in de-stressing and relaxation. Plants enhance one’s mood and are natural healers. Green walls can be incorporated in one’s interiors, whether it is an office or a home, to create a blissful atmosphere,” says Pameli Kayal an architect and an interior designer.
A vertical garden is a method to grow plants on walls. It is also known as a green façade or ‘living green wall’. “Vertical gardens not only look beautiful and add green cover to a barren looking wall but also helps in efficient utilisation of space,” adds Priyanka Amar Shah, founder of iKheti.
There are many ways to create vertical gardens. The simplest options, is to attach plant containers to a wall. Alternatively, one can have a frame made, with horizontal rows where the plants can be placed. It all depends on the space available and whether the wall is in the balcony, terrace, outside or even in one’s living room. The wall or the framework must be strong enough to hold the weight of the vertical garden, especially the bigger ones.
Outdoor vertical gardens
If you plan to grow edibles or outdoor plants, ensure that the vertical wall is outdoors. The produce will always be proportionate to the pot’s size.
Hence, to grow edibles in a vertical format, the size of the pot should be at least five inches, to get sufficient produce. Pot of different sizes and geo bags (made of permeable fabrics) are available, to cater to the growing demand for edible vertical gardens. Micro greens, which are 40 times more nutritious than your leafy vegetables, can be grown in small vertical pots, as well. “Always choose plants as per the pot’s size. Sometimes, people choose to grow huge plants in smaller pots and wonder why they aren’t growing,” cautions Shah.
Indoor vertical gardens
If you are planting indoor plants or air purifying plants, the vertical wall can be in indoors, where there is less sunlight.
“Nowadays ready frameworks for vertical walls are available, which are easy to install. All you need to do is put the plants. Herbs like basil, peppermint, etc., are easier to grow than vegetables. Air purifying plants like peace lily, pothos, ferns and syngoniums are other easy options. Choose the plants, as per the sunlight available in the specific area. If the vertical walls is high, it would require an irrigation system for efficient usage of water,” states Shah.
To create a vertical garden in or around one’s house, one must be a bit creative or take the help of a professional gardener or horticulturist. “If you wish to be adventurous, then, instead of using regular clay pots, you can opt for plastic bottles, fused bulbs, photo frames, shoes, etc., to make such gardens. Ropes, belts, t-shirts and elastic bands, can be used to hang the planters,” suggests Kayal.
Maintenance of vertical gardens
Vertical gardens require regular maintenance, such as trimming and pruning, to maintain the look of the wall. Hence, it is better to opt for low maintenance plants.
“Alternatively, one can grow plants vertically using hydroponics – i.e., growing plants in water. Such vertical walls are lighter and have less chances of infestation by pests, since most of the pests come from the soil. Furthermore, the water can be recycled. The disadvantage of hydroponic system, however, is that it is expensive as water nutrients need to be added at regular intervals,” explains Shah.
Tips for setting up a vertical garden
- The vertical wall garden should ideally be under a skylight or near a window, to ensure adequate sunlight. Fruits and flowering plants need more sunlight. Lack of adequate sunlight will prevent the plants from bearing fruits and can stunt the growth of the plants.
- Arrange the containers symmetrically or in some pattern, so that they look lush and vibrant. One can also arrange the plants as per colours.
- Regularly water, trim and nourish the plants. Removal of drying, wilting leaves and flowers will encourage faster new growth. Add fertilisers in recommended dosages, to keep the plants healthy.
- One must be observant about the pest attacks. It is easy to control it in the early stages.