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Are Vertical Gardens a Viable Option?

Wall Garden

Are Vertical Gardens a Viable Option for the home gardener or unit dweller as a way to maximize growing space.

Vertical gardening is quite popular. In fact, it might be trendier than it should be. In the right situations, it has practical applications and is appealing. Unfortunately, it can be problematic in the wrong circumstances, probably more than it is worth. To help you decide whether to go for this creative idea, here are some issues associated with vertical gardening.

Limited growing space

Sydney Wall Garden by Night

In general, vertical gardens do not offer a lot of growing space for roots. As such, a vertical planter lacks the ability to support large plants unless it’s a heavy-duty structure, which in turn would just rack up the costs.  As a result, small farmers are limited to growing smaller plant varieties or those that grow at a much slower rate.   Careful and expansive planning done before setting up any part of the garden itself is an absolute must, because it’s the only way to avoid unnecessary problems down the road, like overgrowth caused by potential neglect, undergrowth due to inadequate solar protection or just general technical issues with watering or A/C systems.

High initial cost

High Cost of Maintenance

Setting up a vertical garden requires a lot of money.   For starters, the price of urban land is often greater than that of farmland.   If you’re lucky and have a yard or some space around your house, you can try with some sheds or something similar, to maximize usable space for your garden. This option will allow you to utilize both horizontal and vertical space and you may also have a room that will function as a greenhouse.   However, you wouldn’t be out of the woods yet, since you have to buy various equipment needed for watering and other utilities.   Assuming you have an urban block of land, powering up the farmscraper costs a significant amount of money.   Additionally, creating the controlled environment of a vertical farm racks up the sum of money needed upfront.   Although pre-constructed vertical planting systems are specially designed to ease installation, maintenance, and watering, most of them are available at a much higher price than traditional pots.   Vertical farming calls for a significant investment but naturally less if doing it on a small scale in your backyard.

The potential to be messy

Felt Wall Garden

Although vertical gardens can provide insulation and shade, they usually hold moisture against walls and promote rot.  Same as other planters, those installed over decks or windows will drip, dirtying or staining whatever is below.    However, there are ways to get around such problems.

  • Insert your plants through a wire mesh material.
  • Place the plants close together to keep the dirt from escaping.   Succulents offer the most suitable results.
  • Give the roots enough time to grow and take hold before you change the orientation of your planters.   It will also help to keep the soil in place.
  • Attach your vertical garden to concrete walls since this type is not susceptible to rot.
  • Install free-standing vertical gardens.

Water-borne pathogens can spread faster

Testing Vertical watering

Diseases that disperse in water are likely to proliferate at a higher rate in vertical gardens.   The natural flow of water might carry water-borne pathogens from the top of the garden to the bottom.   As such, if a disease occurs at the upper part of a vertical garden, it will most likely spread to every plant below.   On the ground, this type of disease spreads at a slower rate since it can only travel as far as the flow or splash of water.

Watering and drainage might be a challenge

Succulent Wall Garden

If you plan to grow indoors, watering and drainage are important issues to consider.   Many growers choose succulents or drought-tolerant plants as a solution to this problem.   Using smaller containers is also advisable since they are a lot easier to move for watering.   The highest risk are gardens maintained indoors, as they requires constant maintenance and monitoring of drainage system.   For example, neglect or use of low quality piping can cause leaks and ruptures that will further damage the structure in which the garden is set up, in this case walls, flooring, furniture etc.

 The potential to dry out quickly

Wall Garden In Sydney

Vertical gardens that receive a lot of sunlight are known to dry out quickly, as a result of which plants weaken or die.   You need to consider the type of material to use when building a vertical planter.   For example, when making a gutter garden for lettuces and herbs, you should use a white plastic gutter instead of a dark metal trough since such a garden will be exposed to the sun almost always.   A dark metal gutter will heat up a lot faster than a white plastic one since the latter will reflect light and heat.

Despite all this they can look magnificent

Wall garden on Building

Article written by:  Michael Fulkerson from Iowa, USA. April 19th 2017

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