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With a vertical garden, you can make the most of your limited space

In the modern housing market, space is becoming harder and harder to come by. With this, your everyday casual agriculturalist may lose out on the opportunity to have a garden of their own.

A point of pride for most, the use of homegrown ingredients in your cooking can create a very rewarding feeling. 

Luckily, those that are cramped for space can enjoy all the perks of having a place to use that green thumb thanks to a vertical garden.

Sometimes your vertical garden can just be for decorating and brightening up your space. It can make for a great alternative, changing a blank and dull wall to a vibrant green wall.

But what does it take to have the best possible vertical garden? To grow the greenest greens, tastiest herbs and flowers fit for a botanical garden?

1. Support structure

When it comes to vertical gardens there a generally a few options that can be used; a wall of your home, a fence or a rig that you build that can stand by itself.

  • Wall: In most cases, a home will have a free wall that can house a vertical garden. When it comes to your vertical garden, wall structures are more often then not strong enough a vertical garden that can be hung of it.

    A potential negative though is that it can require you to drill into the wall in order to make the structure sturdy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option for those that rent.

    If you do own the property, drilling holes in your wall can look a bit messy. These holes can be patched over though if the vertical garden ever needs to be moved. 

             It is best to check with a professional whether drilling holes in your wall for a vertical garden is a good idea.

  • Fence: Using a fence as the support for your vertical garden is a fantastic option as it is low cost to fix or alter when compared to one of your home’s walls. They will often provide a similar level of support and aren’t a part of your home’s structure.

    It can also help build a natural, green aesthetic on your balcony or in your back garden.

    If you can’t drill into your fence though, try hanging hooks with planters over the top. If you do decide to drill, consult a professional first about its viability.
  • Build your own: Building your own free-standing frame for your vertical garden allows you to customise and build exactly the way that you want to. 

    Often a home-built vertical garden rack will be moveable and not a fixed garden. This means that it can be shifted around so as to catch the seasonal light.

If you don’t like the idea of building your own rig (or don’t think you have the ability) then readymade frames and plant hangars are available from Bunnings.

2. Sun and shade

Getting your vertical garden the right amount of sunlight is a key to its success.

Therefore, its positioning will be important.

Often, as plants grow up in a walled garden they can block the sunlight from getting to the plants on the lower levels. It is a good idea to grow plants that are shade tolerant on the lower levels because of this.

It is also important to find out what plants like full or partial sunlight. Doing your research about what will be best suited to your potential vertical garden is important.

The Australian summer sun can be brutal to your plants, particularly in the afternoon. Consider this when choosing the positioning of your vertical garden.

It is also possible to have an indoor vertical garden. However, when inside they can often suffer from not getting enough sunlight. There can also be an issue around excessive moisture getting trapped indoors.

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3. Irrigation

One of the most important steps to maintaining your vertical garden is watering it on a regular basis (like with all gardens).

While there are multiple methods to the watering process, some you could consider are:

  • A garden hose: The most common method when it comes to watering your plants, a garden hose is considered to be the old faithful of gardening. 

    While it can be a time-consuming experience, it can be common that gardeners prefer using a hose or watering can as you can feel like you are actually contributing to the growth of your plants with your own labour. 

    The hands-on nature of this activity can be  relaxing and contribute to the therapeutic effects of gardening.
  • Soaker hose: Soaker hoses are an easy way to water all the plants in your vertical garden at the same time. Thanks to the small holes that allow for water to pass throughout them at select locations, they can be wrapped around your vertical garden to ensure that all areas receive the water they need.
  • Sprinklers: Possibly the least time-consuming method of watering, all that is needed is to place it and turn it on. It may not be the best method for a vertical garden though and is better suited to a backyard.

If you feel strongly about water conservation (as well as your vertical garden) then the use of a water tank provides an environmental touch to your green thumb. These are not really suited to apartment life though.

4. Plant selection

While not as difficult as choosing a pet, selecting the right plants is important. Different plants require various amounts of effort to look after and having plants that will suit your lifestyle can mean they thrive.

If you are a beginner in the gardening scene, it can be best to start with low maintenance plants before moving on to something more challenging. Beginners plants like lemongrass or chives are a good place to start.

From an aesthetic point of view, succulents and cacti are currently very popular. Low maintenance and often quite colourful, they are fantastic launching point for any aspiring gardeners.

If your gardening is motivated by your kitchen needs, the essential herbs you may need are:

  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Mint 
  • Thyme.

There are any number of herb variations that you can grow to truly personalise your vertical garden though.  

Herbs such as these tend to thrive in a partial sunlight environment. If your vertical garden will get constant sunlight, lavender or strawberries are plants that enjoy those conditions.

Chillies are also a relatively low maintenance plant that can really add some spice to your cooking.

5. What to plant in

Hanging planters and baskets are a good start to making your garden vertical. 

When hanging or fixing pots to as structure, it is important to use pots that are a suitable weight. Pots that are too heavy can put strain on your vertical garden structure that can affect its stability.

When buying your pots or planters always account for the weight that soil will add.

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6. Maintenance

As with any plant, what is in your vertical garden needs to be looked after. The basic steps to remember, to ensure your garden stays healthy, are:

  • Removal of shed leaves
  • Trimming your plants
  • Refilling fertiliser
  • Pest management
  • Mulch, feed and water plants.

Maintenance of your vertical garden can be difficult at times, particularly with the busy lifestyles that most lead. However, by conducting regular maintenance and keeping your garden healthy you can benefit from the produce or the sense of pride that comes with successfully growing and nurturing a garden.

7. Where to get it

For all your vertical gardening needs, Bunnings Warehouse provides an excellent selection of what you need. From pots to soil and fertilizer, your planting needs are covered.

It is also a great place for buying the materials to build your own vertical garden rig if that is what you are planning.

Bunnings also provides a tutorial on how to build a vertical garden that is very helpful.

If there is a local hardware store or you have a trusted plant nursery near you that you go to that is fine too. 

It is important to remember that this is your vertical garden and should be personalised exactly how you want it.

Grow what you want. Make it your own. Nurture and grow your vertical garden into something that you can be proud of.