Of walls that are a healthy green

Last Updated 14 February 2013, 18:31 IST

A vertical garden can be used on any indoor or outdoor wall in a backyard area, courtyard, office reception or balcony. Two decor and garden enthusiasts have gone ahead and done just that. They have fashioned a vertical metal piece with custom-made pots to fit the grid, discovers Ruth DSouza Prabhu.

Even a small patch of greenery can add a whole new dimension to your home. It brightens up the place, gives it character and allows you the joy of watching your plants grow a little every day. But sometimes, space can be a constraint or perhaps you have been bitten by the creativity bug and you want to do something that is completely different. Perhaps you can take a leaf (pun intended) out of the books of Nandini Rao and Radha Sundar who have worked on the concept of a vertical garden and brought it to life.

A vertical garden by definition can be a free-standing one or part-of-your-structure stretch of greenery. While some places have entire walls dedicated to this, there are others like Nandini and Radha who decided to fashion two metal strips of vertical space dedicated to greenery. If you have a nice open space behind your home or on your balcony to which you would like to add some greenery, Nandini Rao says, “There are many options to beautify an open space with greenery. For example, a rock/cacti garden, a vegetable garden, a water body etc. The current trend in gardening which has caught on with landscapists and garden enthusiasts is that of vertical gardening.”
Elaborating on the kinds of spaces best suited to vertical gardens, Radha Sundar explains that a vertical garden can be used on any indoor or outdoor wall in a backyard area, courtyard, office reception area, balconies, etc. It is especially suited for areas where there is shortage of horizontal space for gardening.

Many times, vertical spaces are left out in the traditional method of gardening. These green walls can also serve as partitions, backdrops for reception areas and can augment horizontal garden spaces as well.”

The duo list out some of the basic materials you will need.

A supporting panel: This can be made-to-order depending on the space you have and the number of pots you plan to accommodate.

Specifically designed pots: These are available in specialty gardening stores, else you can search for pot sizes that fit your grid.

Water proofing for indoor spaces or a balcony in the case of apartments will be necessary. You could bring in a professional here for the job.

Enriched soil — like you would use for your regular plants.

Drip irrigation system: This again can be based on the size of your vertical garden. The hydrophone method of watering too works well with this concept.

“The choice of plants is important. Most plants can be grown where they receive proper light, water and nutrients. Different coloured and textured plants can be used to give an enhanced look to the setting. Plants should have more foliage and a bushy variety so that they can cover up the spaces in between your metal grid and the pots,” says Nandini.

Radha goes on to name a few plants that are ideal for these vertical spaces — ipomoea light green, ipomoea purple peperomia, spider plant, rheo plant, philodendron golden emerald. Flowering plants like begonia can also be included to add colour to the setting.

The duo explains that setting up the wall can take a little time and patience. Plants can be grown vertically using a supporting panel and specifically designed rigid pots for those frames.

The supporting panels are mounted on selected walls, and potted plants are inserted in individual slots. The soil used should be light weight and enriched with nutrients; for example, a coco-peat based, nutrition-infused medium.

Care should be taken to choose a location (balcony, compound wall) where there is adequate sunlight and space to drain excess water. For indoor spaces, the area should be water-proofed. Water collection trays at the base are needed to drain away excess water.

Vertical gardening requires regular watering. Water is supplied at the top row which drips through the holes in the pots and can be supplied through drip irrigation or hand watered.

Liquid fertilisers are used to nourish the plants later. Plants can be easily replaced because each plant is housed in separate pots. Pruning of the plants can be done as and when required.

You could try introducing a vertical garden in your space the next time you feel your home needs a change in look. With your basic frame up, you can always change the plants to bring about a different feel. You could also bring in enhancements like adding a metal arbour to allow vines to grow around.

Your options are plenty and limited only by your imagination.

(Published 14 February 2013, 12:12 IST)

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