Vertical Gardens: growing more in less space
One of the gardening world’s hottest trends, “vertical gardens” allows plants to grow on walls and other non-horizontal surfaces. They’re especially popular for small-space gardening where ground is at a premium, or as decoration for patios and outdoor rooms. Putting plants at eye-level also gives new appreciation to groundcovers, succulents and small perennials.
Creating a vertical garden can be problematic. Some of the problems encountered are:
- Getting a messy soil to stay in place when the planter is turned 90 degrees.
- Watering and rooting problems.
- Growing problems of plant vertically.
Growing plants on a vertical surface has been possible after the studies of natural vertical locationswhere great abandant of plant species is easily grow.The technique imitates these locations, so it also functions without soil, having the benefits of making the surface very light and easy to tailor any geometry.
Design of Vertical Garden or Live Wall: Each vertical garden is given a unique design and selection of species. The composition of plants takes in consideration the specific environment where it will be built, such as the local and micro climate, sun exposure and the surrounding context. The aim is to create one of a kind and site-specific garden that stands beautiful through all the seasons of the year. A well executed design is also a way to minimize the future maintenance demand of the garden. A plant’s growth habit, size and behavior on a vertical surface is important knowledge for making the right combination of species, in order to keep the competition between plants at a healthy level. Choosing the right plant for the right place makes sense for any garden, but maybe even more so in a vertical garden. For the overall design a lot of inspiration is taken from natural shapes and environments where these types of plants have their origin, and in the smaller scale each species is given a context where it can develop its characteristics. All together a unique garden is creating with much content, surprise and variation. A vertical garden can be installed in almost any location and as a living material; the potential of integrating plants in our urban environments is interesting. Places never thought of as possible could be inhabited by plants, like subway stations or other intensely frequented places where horizontal space is difficult to spare.
SUPPORTING STRUCTURE: The supporting structure consists of a 10 mm PVC-board mounted on a stud work. The solid PVC board is sealed at joints, and an air gap between the board and the wall behind assure a double protection against moisture. On top of the board, a multi-layered, synthetic and highly absorbent felt surface is attached. It gives an even distribution of water over the surface and provides mechanical support for the plants as they grow attached to the felt. A cut is made in the outer felt layer and the plants inserted in between. As a soilless surface, the construction is very light – less than 25 kg/m2 including plants. Depending of what species that are used, the average surface depth is increased with 200-500 mm.
IRRIGATION: The irrigation system is designed to minimize water consumption. It consists of an automation-unit with equipment for control of nutrient injection and irrigation cycles. When a surface has a variation of sun exposures, the irrigation is divided into segments in order to program it specifically for each part. Within the multi-layered felt surface a drip-tube is integrated. Water consumption varies with heat and sun exposure, but compared to normal green spaces or a lawn, the consumption is normally lower. It averages between 2-5 l/m2/day.
MAINTENANCE: As the supply of the basic needs of plants (light, water and nutrients) are automated, not only does this make for unusually healthy plants – it highly reduces maintenance demand and makes the vertical garden possible to use on high buildings or other places where accessibility is limited. The garden is designed so that the plants´ natural growth habit is given space, and for different species to have a dynamic co-habitat with adjacent species. During a year, the garden will profit from pruning approximately 1-2 times per year. All plants that are used are perennial, but as the years go by, a few will have to be replaced. These maintenance measures will ensure a long term lush and attractive garden.