Beauty Up and Around You, a Living Wall Garden
Guest Post by: Robert Garcia
In urban areas with limited space, designing and growing a living wall is gaining in popularity. Also known as vertical gardens, not all wall gardens are the same. With a bit of key information and inspiration, you can create a fresh garden space with this relatively new approach to growing.
Living walls, or vertical gardens as they are also known, essentially are specifically cultivated plants that grow in a frame on the side of a building or home, or directly on the wall. The trend is popular and catching on in cities and smaller gardens because they are very efficient at regulating temperatures and re-using runoff water. Of course, the biggest benefit is changing a plain concrete wall into something colorful and beautiful.
Vertical Garden Roots
Due to his extensive research in plants and surface structures, French botanist Patrick Blanc, called the grandfather of vertical gardening, introduced the first living wall systems about 20 years ago, and they have gained in popularity ever since.
Vertical gardens basically come in two categories: modular boxes and hydroponic systems. Modular boxes are singles boxes, typically made from recyclable materials, that are filled with potting soil or peat moss, and are planted with your chosen vegetation and hung on your wall or on frames connected to your wall. Hydroponic systems allows the roots of the plants freedom to grow throughout the wall instead of in separate boxes, allowing for more choices in plants. Living wall architects and vertical garden designers usually gravitate to hydroponic systems as it allows them more plant diversity and artistic freedom to create a lush and layered canvas of vegetation. However, modular systems offer great benefits as well, especially for temporary or smaller walls and areas since the boxes are easy to install, replace or remove.
Selecting the right plants is the key to designing a beautiful living wall garden. Some online research will give you some awesome ideas and resources for picking the right plants, but you can always consult with a landscape architect for plants that work the best. If you’d rather leave the design of your wall up to the experts, make sure you work with a firm that specializes in vertical gardens and living walls. If the firm you pick decides on installing a hydroponic system, you are looking at limitless options. However, if you decide on a modular boxes system, you should look towards choosing plants that are drought-tolerant, native to your area, or is known to thrive in your local conditions.
If you’re creating your own vertical garden or living wall, there are some great plants to choose from, for instance: Succulents - Shallow rooted plants like sedum, hens and chicks, houseleeks and rock garden perennials do great on a living wall.
Herbs And Vegetables - Veggies like lettuce, beets and radishes and herbs like thyme and mint are great for verticals. Also, imagine having a clever set of fresh crops at your fingertips! Grasses - Shallow root grasses like blue fescue look dramatic and love growing up walls.
Plants establish themselves pretty quickly on a living wall, so you don’t have to provide a lot of maintenance, other than some trimming. Since vertical gardens can regulate temperature and can reuse water, they are both eco-friendly and popular in hotter climates and during the summer. Many outdoor enthusiasts find that a vertical living wall is fantastic at adding a new and fresh view to their patio rooms, and are creating cool outdoor living areas around their walls. Adding cooling patio furniture like teak wood and patio umbrellas, especially with UV resistant fabric, makes a beautiful outdoor resting area that never gets hot.