3 simple tips to create an outdoor vertical garden
Walk into almost any office space or trendy home these days and you’re sure to be confronted by a wall of green in the form of a vertical garden. They’re a gorgeous interior design statement and creating your own is very simple.
The trend towards minimalism, and ever decreasing block size, makes vertical gardens the perfect choice to convert even the tiniest courtyard into a lush green sanctuary.
While indoor vertical gardens typically rely on frames and/or pots hung from a wall and are restricted to smallish succulents and indoor plants, the options outdoors are limited only by your imagination.
1. What to grow
Where do we begin? Or, more to the point, end. Vines are an obvious choice as they can be trained to climb up a trellis or fence. Obviously don’t grow a heavy, vigorous climber such as wisteria on a dainty trellis, but in a large garden it’s a great choice for a strong timber or metal frame and will help divide the yard into “rooms”. The perfume is also divine.
The beautiful Black-Eyed Susan vine is another option that is perfect for a balcony trellis or other light frame. The bright orange flowers with black centres add a splash of colour to any wall, especially if it is in a dark courtyard.
Other options include Morning Glory (including the lovely white Moonflower), scarlet runner bean (you can even eat it), Hyacinth Bean, clematis hybrids, American bittersweet and ivy. All of these grow best in full sun, although remember that Clematis prefer their flowers in the sun and roots in the shade.
Vines for shady spots include Kiwi vines, Chocolate vine, Dutchman’s pipe and climbing hydrangea (seriously pretty).
Those who like their garden to be productive as well as pretty can look at small fruited vines such as kiwi, gooseberry, edible flowers like nasturtiums and vegetables such as peas, squash, tomatoes and pole beans.
If a structure isn’t possible or desirable, column shaped plants can also be used to create vertical gardens. Think about columnar apple trees, arborvitae (a form of conifer), juniper or black poplar.
2. What to grow it on
Fences, axes, grids, steel pipe scaffolding and other types of structures make it easy to grow plants vertically. Hanging baskets can be used as elements of vertical gardens, because they break the horizontal plane of gardening.
For an existing structure such as a wall, gazebo or a garage, add a grid in front of one of the walls, so that the plants have a supporting structure, and cause no damage to the wall. Be sure to leave some space between the grid and the wall for air circulation. Ivy, of course, will climb any structure but it can cause damage, so consult a horticulturalist at the nursery before buying.
3. Care and maintenance
Of course, an outdoor vertical garden is subject to the elements and the last thing you want to happen is for it to fall down because the structure rotten due to rain or blown over by the wind. Similarly, that lovely green wall won’t look too impressive if the plants wither and die.
Make sure the structure in anchored in place before the planting starts. That way the roots of the plants won’t be disturbed and build strong stable structures for heavy or demanding plants such as wisteria.
Remember to consider the lower plants in surrounding garden beds or pots. If the vertical garden is likely to cast a shadow, make sure other affected plants are shade tolerant.
Not all climbers self-attach to structures. Climbing roses, for example, need to be physically attached to structures, while others, such as bindweed, wind themselves around lattice.
Keep the plants well-watered and nourished, especially if they are in pots, as these tend to dry out quickly in hot or windy weather. Plants that are grown vertically also need more frequent watering and fertilization, because they are exposed to more light and wind. Scotts Australia has a range of plants foods and soil wetting agents that will help to protect vertical garden plants and keep them blooming for many years to come.
Above hero image via www.intermountainverticalgardens.com.