Shawna Coronado, author of "Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose", dreams of a world where there are living walls planted in small spaces.
No matter where you live – city, country, or suburbs – it is easy to plant a living wall or vertical garden in a very small space utilizing her techniques. Imagine a revolutionary planting technique where a person can plant more than 30 plants in a floor area that is a bit over a square foot. Gardening with this technique is amazingly simple and easy to accomplish for the everyday person simply by planting a living wall garden. By planting living wall gardens on fences, gates, walls, balconies, and doors, gardeners can save enormous areas of space while producing large quantities of flowers, perennials, herbs, and vegetables.
Most living walls are far less work than traditional in-the-ground gardening. There is no weeding involved. Gardeners everywhere jump up and cheer – no weeding is a reason to celebrate! In the same floor space that you might use for a window box garden, you can place enough flowers or vegetables to have up to six to eight times more plant production. Utilizing a living wall can grow a lot more plants in a much smaller floor space. Vertical gardens can save you a lot of time. Many of the new living wall products have self-watering systems to automate your watering. If they do not come with a watering system, it is easy to install one for your particular living wall situation. Living walls are easy to plant, maintain, and grow.
Growing Wall Gardens
Growing an organic living wall garden is weed-free, super easy to accomplish, and can provide masses of organic flowers, food, and herbs for apartment dwellers and homeowners anywhere in the world. Living wall gardening has the fantastic benefit of being low maintenance and easy to access for harvesting. Living wall gardens allow a gardener to plant edibles in a small floor space area by growing vertically. While well suited for urban gardeners with limited space, this technique is also amazingly accessible for small patio owners or home dwellers with tall fences surrounding their properties.
Therapeutic Hanging Garden
Build an organic living wall garden on fences, walls, and gates. Gates, in particular, offer a unique growing area. Growing herbs, vegetables, and pollinator attracters are great living wall ideas for sunny areas, but it is also possible to grow vegetative plants of all types in the part-shade which is definitely a common condition for side gated areas on many homes. Finding the right living wall system and plants to fit your unique planting requirements will help you succeed at growing – you can make your own living wall or purchase a unit that will work for your garden.
Money Saving Wall Garden
Living wall gardens have many similar needs as traditional container gardens, with one exception –adding a heavier organic soil mix means that the roots will retain more water even though the units might reside up higher and get more wind. It is important to choose the right plants for the growing conditions you are interested in planting the garden. Living wall units can fit between 30 and 50 plants in a ground area of less than 2 square feet. This means that a living wall garden can grow more plants than many traditionally gardened ground spaces.
Leafy Vegetable Wall Garden
Leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, lettuces, kale, arugula, beets, and vines do remarkably well on organic living walls even if planted in shade to part shade. Herbs work great as well; my favorites include basil and mint because they grow quickly in a season. A living wall garden can contribute heavily to a family’s culinary needs and have the added benefit of being chemical-free and weed-free. In this particular garden design you see a mixed annual and vegetable combination: asparagus fern, purple basil, ‘Bull’s Blood’ beets, cabaret deep blue calibrachoa, cabaret deep yellow calibrachoa, lime light licorice plant, sweet potato vine, Swiss chard, and empress violet charme verbena.
Vertical Wall Garden Systems
There are many different styles of vertical wall garden systems. Some are easy to install, while some are more complicated. If cost is a concern, build your own. By assembling several of these units together you can create an entire wall of garden beauty. This particular planting unit is made by Compoclay and comes with a bracket, container with drain holes,and flat wall piece.
The Importance of Moisture Retentive Soil
Having a moisture retentive soil mix is very important; I like to add a soil mix that is much heavier than the normal potting soil. My secret soil combination is one part rotted manure, one part compost, and one part organic potting soil. When planting in the unit, be sure to mix in a handful of loose organic fertilizer.
Vertical Wall Garden Brackets
Installing the proper wall brackets and anchors to the wall is a very important step. Place the brackets side by side to build a very close, insulating wall unit with no extraneous spaces between the panels and containers. Then plant the containers by arranging all the vegetables and herbs in the order you prefer. It is fine if you crowd the plants in, but planting tall plants to the back of the planter and vining or looser growing plants towards the front will be a more attractive presentation. Water well before you attach the planters to the wall.
Hanging Your Vertical Garden Wall Units
It is very important to hang the units according to package directions. Some walls might need a stronger screw system or to be shored up some in order to handle the weight of the living walls. Be sure to measure twice and test as you are drilling in the brackets to make sure the units are level. If you are building your own homemade living wall creation, be sure that there is enough space between the containers so that you are easily able to water with a water wand. Better yet, install a watering system made from container garden drip systems found at your local independent garden center for no watering worries at all.
Plant a Colorful Vertical Garden
Building a wall with an appealing color combination makes the wall marvelously suited to your particular outdoor room. This color combination is contrasting purple and yellow. Any variety of flower colors can be chosen, or no flowers at all – plant your unit up with all leafy vegetables or all non-flowering annuals. Whatever combination you choose, make it a memorable combination to thrill visitors to your balcony, patio, or garden.
Caring for Your Vertical Wall Garden
Once the garden is installed, the only maintenance to worry about is regular watering, fertilizing, and arranging your seating area around the garden. Water wands are the best tool to water with as they have a very gentle rain-like delivery of water. Watering will depend on how much rain youget or where the living wall is located. Then decorate the area around the living wall so that guests can enjoy the experience of being a part of the garden.
Author Shawna Coronado shows in her book "Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose" that growing a living wall that can produce a large quantity of organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers can be beautiful and useful for homeowners and apartment dwellers who are concerned about both space and design. Grow an organic living wall and grow lots of plants in a very small space.
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All photos courtesy of: Shawna Coronado