Sustainable Garden Design Perth & Fremantle,
What are vertical gardens?
Vertical gardens are simply gardens designed to grow on vertical
surfaces on either existing buildings or stand alone structures
specifically designed for the purpose. This type of garden can
take on many forms either consisting of a number of vessels which
are reticulated, usually using more conventional watering systems,
or through the use of waterproofed walls covered with pockets of
felt and fed through a more elaborate hydroponic system. They can
be as simple as stainless steel wire or trellis with grape vines
growing on it, espaliered fruit trees or more complex growing hydroponic
systems or greywater recycling systems.
The second system often referred to as a greenwall or mur vegetal
has been pioneered by the French botanist Patrick Blanc who has
designed extensive walls which cover whole sections of buildings.
There are a number of companies which offer modulated systems which
emulate this method and are now available in Australia.
What style of vertical garden do we usually specialise in?
Our company has targeted smaller residential style vertical gardens
which provide a sculptural feature either as a point of inspiration
within the garden or as a method of providing a source of food
in smaller city gardens.
The structures that we have used usually have a metal frame with
suspended zincalume or stainless steel vessels which contain the
soil and plants. The benefit of these systems is that they easily
tie in with the existing reticulation system.
In the more decorative designs we prefer to use succulents which
provide beautiful architectural shape and require little or no
water depending on the species.
With our new systems it is even possible to develop greenwalls
which can work within the interior of the home.
What are the key aspects of creating an inspirational vertical
First, you need to have a very well structured wall to use as your
starting point, or you may need to structurally reinforce your
wall so it can take on the significant amounts of extra weight
you will be adding.
Most green wall kits come with modular forms that are assembled
in accordance with the instructions and applied to a frame that
then secured to the selected wall. Some forms of vertical garden
come as a wall panel that is self-supporting. Many such kits are
not readily sold off the shelf in Perth and may require you to
investigate further on the internet if you wish to attempt the
Fill the framework of the wall with high quality, well-draining
potting mix if you are building your own vertical garden. These
contain slow release fertilisers and soil wetting agents both essential
for plant health. Some kits come with a supply of inorganic growing
medium to use as this does not break down but may require the occasional
use of liquid fertiliser to maintain the healthy growth of the
plants. Products such as Seasol or Powerfeed should be suitable
for most plant species.
Make sure you set up a tray or other drainage that will conduct
excess water that flows to the bottom safely away. This can in
some systems be recirculated through a small pump in the collection
tray. It is possible to obtain smaller solar powered for this purpose
but once again it is difficult to buy these off the shelf in Perth.
Light and shade
Also make sure indoor living walls have the correct amount of light
for the species that you have selected. If you are trying to create
a waterwise vertical garden, the more sun on the wall, the faster
the soil or root medium will dry out.
When selecting plant species it is best to steer away from large
plants that will put a lot of pressure on the angled root area
when growing a pocket system vertical garden. The best selections
are lightweight leafy plants, plants that naturally cascade and
plants that grow in mounds close to the root area. Succulents,
for example, make an excellent choice as most will hug the wall
and come in varied and interesting shapes and colours providing
a kind of living tapestry. One of my favourite species include
smaller leafed philodendrons which are more suitable for shaded
vertical gardens but provide a feeling of lushness and in the right
environment require very little water.
Irrigation and waterproofing
The key element in the success of your vertical garden is how you
water it. In many instances you can utilise an already existing
reticulation system and use drip or subsurface irrigation on existing
lines. A key to the creation of a vertical wall is that you need
to protect the surface of the wall that is supporting it with either
a kind of waterproof paint or impermeable layer. Creating pockets
for plants to anchor their roots into with netafim drip irrigation
tubing will maintain the green wall effect.