While it is nice to have a large open area that gives full sun to use as a garden, sometimes that isn’t available, but by using vertical gardens, a fence or wall may offer an alternative. The concept is simple: if you can’t go out, go up. Apartment balconies are an example where using methods can multiply the growing space. The tops of wooden patio awnings may be a well-lit opportunity to grow vining plants in what otherwise would be unused space. A slanted rooftop garden may have fewer obstructions shading it than a ground level garden.
To pick a suitable area for your vertical gardens is to calculate how much light a potential space gets. Different plants have different light requirements. Take note of how many hours of direct sunlight the area gets during the day. Six hours or more is suitable for “full sun” plants, less than six hours, but more than three is considered either “partial sun”, or “partial shade”, and less than three hours of direct sun is considered “full shade”. “Dappled sun” means that the plants prefer their filtered sun as if they were under the canopy of other plants. This will determine which plants in your zone the area should be able to support.
One simple method is known as a “pallet garden”. A shipping pallet is turned on end, and either boards or nursery fabric is added to created troughs filled with potting mix. The pallet is leaned against a fence or a second pallet and faced toward the best sun.
Specialty fabric pouches are available that hang from grommeted corners. There are vertical gardening frames available, and even complete systems available for sale.
Hanging planters can be used where an overhead support is available. Balconies and porch overhangs can be livened up and made productive with single or multi-tiered hanging planters. Although no longer considered to be the height of fashion, hanging macramé plant holders can be made at home and made to whatever specification is needed.
Vertical gardens tend to lend themselves well to drip systems. This allows for each plant to receive water from its own emitter, with gravity driving any runoff to the plants below it.
Indoors; this method can pack in plants at a density several times that of a conventional single layer of plants. Wasted airspace can be filled with racks and lights, and walls can be lined with pouches. Special care must be taken if watering is done above lights (as can be the case in racks) to ensure safety in the event of a leak. Another concern is plant size. Since more of the airspace is in use, a small misstep in timing can quickly turn a packed vertical garden into an unruly overgrown jungle. The higher density in the garden space can also exacerbate any heat or humidly issues as well.
While vertical gardening may not be the ideal choice in every situation, there are situations where there is no better choice.
Featured Image courtesy of Various Brennemans
Body images courtesy of Albert Mondor