Known typically as a vertical garden, but also a living wall or wall garden, these features are becoming increasingly popular for homes, businesses and tourist attractions. There have been some spectacular displays on some iconic buildings. Perhaps the most famous being the Musee du Quai Branly, next to the Eiffel Tower (Paris). This particular building is home to around 15,000 plants of over 150 species! There are plenty more incredible wall gardens appearing around the world that we can take inspiration from to recreate ourselves. Not only are vertical gardens aesthetically pleasing, they also provide many practical benefits:
The most apparent reason for their increased popularity would be an issue of space. They take up much less room than plant pots and beds in gardens. Plants are typically grown in vertical frames that are attached to walls. Similar to how the Swiss and companies like IKEA Ltd. encourage us to be clever with the space we have available, a wall garden gives you the chance to add dimension and colour to outside places that are typically left bare. A vertical garden can hide any unsightly areas and take you from living in an uncultivated concrete jungle to a paradise full of texture, vibrancy and scent.
Growing vertically can also make maintenance much easier. For those who are not especially green-fingered, growing a wall garden removes many inconveniences that typical gardening can bring. Growing upwards removes the need to get on our hands and knees to pull out weeds. Not to mention, pest and pet damage is significantly reduced. This isn’t to say that wall gardens are completely maintenance-free, as they will still need watering, fertilising and pruning if you really want to grow a spectacular display. However, this is much easier to achieve, meaning you don’t have to feel forced to spend hours working in the garden at the first sight of nice weather. It’s low key maintenance for you to sit back and enjoy!
Growing vertical allows for better air circulation, so plants can dry out faster, helping prevent fungus and disease spreading. Pests such as caterpillars, slugs and cutworms are less likely to feed off the leaves of your plants, as they are not as close to the ground nor as easy for them to get to. Soil-borne diseases also become virtually non-existent as harmful pathogens in the soil are not attacking the plants. The pathogens instead come from the air or water.
Growing plants up external walls is an easy way to reduce our impact on the environment. A wall of plants will help regulate the temperature in our homes, by providing shade when they are warm. This is known as evapotranspiration – evaporation and transpiration. The water transported from the surface into the atmosphere makes the air temperature and wall surface cooler, thus increasing our energy conservation.
The improvements a wall garden can make to our health is also a significant reason to grow upwards. Research suggests that plants improve air quality both indoors and outdoors. Having as many plants around us as possible can absorb more harmful organic compounds and pollutant toxins such as carbon dioxide and monoxide. Research has also found that plants have a calming effect on humans. They can reduce stress levels, improve heart and brain activity, and improve our mood levels. Many hospitals have adapted their “healing gardens” to utilise more of their space and have created vertical gardens for the benefit of their patients. Khoo Teck Puat hospital, in Singapore, is an example of a beautiful green space designed with health and wellbeing in mind.
Whilst these are not the only benefits to vertical gardening, they are certainly the most applicable to the general population. Even if you were looking to grow this way simply for the aesthetic, now you know that you will reap other benefits. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to grow in a vertical garden. Furthermore, your own outdoor space, no matter the size, can become inviting and inspiring to others, just like many of the famous living walls around the world.
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