Image credit: inhabitat.com
Vertical gardening produces more of what you want—fruit, veggies, flowers or all three– in the space you’ve got, whether it’s an urban patio, an acreage or something in between. We’ve covered the reasons why many gardeners might be of the opinion that vertical gardening is the best way to go in another post in any case, their perspectives and ideas are well worth the read.
Let’s move on to some introductory tips for vertical gardening that could potentially increase your earnings (from your own fruit and veggies), but also add to the aesthetic appearance of your backyard.
Select your Support Structure
There are many structure options you might want to explore when starting a vertical garden. We’ve listed a few of the most popular, providing some pros and cons you might want to consider before making a final decision.
The wall of your home: Any wall can be covered by a vertical garden! The great thing is that most plants are adaptable, and lighting; full sun to full shade doesn't generally present as an issue. More often than not, everyone has a wall where they can start their vertical garden, right from the get go you are already saving on excavation and labor costs. The good thing about wall structures is that they are generally strong enough to support most plants. On the other hand though, you’ll be putting holes in the wall, which at times have a negative aesthetic appearance. Its important to make sure that the holes be carefully patched up to keep out moisture (putty or silicone will generally get the job done) out of the wall. You can minimise the number holes that are visible, by building the frame on the ground first, and then assemble on the wall, using only reverts to hold the structure securely on the wall.
TIP: If the sides of your assembly are also wooden, you might want to consider covering with thick sheeting to stop water damage.
A fence: A pre-existing fence makes a great low-cost support structure that can cater for most types of pots. Keep in mind the amount of sunlight each plant might require, and ensure you make your plant selections according to these considerations. Lining the pot with vinyl and composite is a great start, not only does it provide the nutrients that your plants/veggies need, but it also gives your pots long lasting durability. If your pots are not made out of clay/ceramic materials, you should put in the extra effort to make sure that you get the same durability as from the clay pots. For example, if your pot is made out of metal, you might want to consider covering them so that they don’t rust. If you prefer wooden pots, consider buying moisture-resistant wood such as cedar, redwood or exotic hardwood to get the most durability.
- A specially built, free-standing frame: A free-standing frame, right from the beginning will require a bit more outlay, not only in terms of labour, but also cost. However, the advantages are that you can build it to the exact size you want and place it where it will make best use of the sunlight and offer the most charming appearance in your backyard. The discussion of fence materials above applies to a frame too. Experienced vertical gardeners most often build out of aluminum or PVC pipes/tubing.
Image credit: theownerbuildernetwork.co
Plant in Pots or the Ground
Planting in the ground and the concept of vertical gardening only go together if you’re growing plants that will climb a lattice, mesh, trellis or other structure, most which you can build yourself. You’ve got a wide range of containers for climbing plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. These vertical growers are great on the eye, and can be used to create privacy as well as producing generously.
When you’re gardening in pots/containers, the array of sizes to choose from is phenomenal! Make sure your pots are large enough to give the plant’s roots room to grow but not so huge that your plants look dwarfed by the pot.
When using pots/containers, they can be placed on shelving or hung from hooks, and plants can grow up and over the sides or even flow down towards the ground.
Another interesting method is to use lengths of PVC pipe as your pot. It’s a great choice for spreading plants such as strawberries.
Plan for Irrigation
How will your growing plants get enough water? One of these options will surely meet both your lifestyle and budget needs:
- Garden hoses: This is the most time consuming way of making sure your plants are getting the TLC they need. Many people prefer doing their own watering as they find it relaxing and/or because they enjoy the hands-on care for their plants/garden. Accessories include adjustable sprayers, watering wands for higher reach and root waterers.
- Soaker hoses: These hoses with thousands of tiny holes are ideal for rows of plants in the ground, but they can be draped across elevated pots too. They are easy to use, do the job well and do not take up too much of your time to attend to the garden.
- Sprinklers: Place the sprinkler, turn it on and set the water pressure before pulling up a seat and enjoying a cold one. One of the most preferred methods of watering in most Aussie back and front yards.
- An advanced irrigation system: This is a good choice for any permanent and serious gardening (almost professional) structures. An irrigation system is built with piping that can attach to an existing nozzle or have a separate water supply. Flanges, couplings and adapters of various sizes are available to construct the irrigation system, for example, with a large main pipe and smaller piping leading to various parts of the structure; like the one’s you usually come across at your local nursery.
Start with the End in Mind
In conclusion, knowing priorities for the gardening project will make decisions easier for both the plant and structure decisions. For example, do you have an ugly brick/block wall you want to cover up? A frame structure attached to the wall will be ideal. Would you like more privacy in your backyard? A structure of climbers and creeper plants can cover and give you all the privacy you need. Do you want the ability to move plants around from place to place? Then shelving or hooks for pots is your best bet. Do you have a particular passion for growing your own fresh vegetables? Choose which types you prefer, and the method of growing them will be clear. These tips cover the basics, and if you follow them all, your vertical gardening pleasure will reach new heights.
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