Credit: Ambius Indoor Plants
- Advertisement -
However, using rainwater, which contains many natural nutrients perfect for plants, or greywater – Cusack uses his baby’s bath water – lowers the eco-impact of your green wall. “Also, your pump costs would be minimal; similar to running a light bulb,” he says.
Some modular systems incorporate a great deal of plastic; look for those made from recycled materials. Whatever your system, plant selection is crucial to further reduce the amount of watering your wall will need. “It’s best to consider drought-tolerant plants, such as grasses and succulents,” Cusack says.
Carpenter agrees. “I’ve seen some fantastic aggregate-based green walls totally planted with succulents that require no irrigation,” she says.
Carpenter says any indoor plants with low light requirements would work well in an indoor vertical
garden. “Ground-floor rainforest species and plants, like epiphytes, which naturally live on trees, are ideal,” she says.
If using soil in modular systems or pots, selecting a good quality potting mix and watering crystals will go a long way towards making your set-up water-efficient.
Vertical gardens may look like works of art but, as with any garden, they require maintenance to stay healthy and look their best. Be sure to feed your garden; a seaweed-based solution is often best. Also, prune back any browning foliage and regularly check your irrigation system is working effectively.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to building your own vertical garden. There are a huge range of kits available that simply need to be clicked together, filled with substrate and hooked up to an irrigation system, but these can be expensive on a large scale.
To build a felt system, you will need a metal or timber frame with a waterproof backing. Two layers of felt matting can then be tacked to the frame, with holes cut into the felt to form pockets for plants. A reticulating irrigation system needs to be set up to run water up and down the wall. To plant out your wall, shake the majority of the soil from the roots of your plants before inserting them into the pockets and stapling the sides to tighten.
For a modular system, you can buy ready-made boxes, cells or pockets, such as the Gro-Wall from Lushe (www.lushe.com.au). If you’re feeling adventurous, however, you could try constructing your own from a box frame, with wire mesh and shadecloth attached to the front. Fill your frame with potting mix or substrate and cut holes in the mesh and material to plant. A simple drip-feed irrigation system with piping inserted into the frame or substrate will meet your watering needs, and a trough installed along the bottom will collect any run-off, while a pump sends it back up the wall.
Whether a hydroponic or soil-based system, these gardens can be heavy and you’ll need to make sure the designated wall can take the load.
Dawson is a big fan of the vertical garden, but says a similar effect can be achieved with a pot plant system. “Mind you, a few pots hanging on the wall does not make a green wall,” he says.
“[But] if you get pots that look the same and hang them in a pattern on a wire grid, it will have a striking effect. Just follow the rules of planting and design, grouping together different species you love.”
A great tip is to secure the pots at a 45-degree angle. “Then plant them with strappy-leaf plants, like liriope,” James says. “This way, the foliage will hang over the pots...helping reduce evaporation.”
Carpenter says pots can be an easy and affordable solution with an appealing result. “It can be as simple as taking a piece of lattice and attaching some old garden pots to it with coat hangers,” she says. “If planted with cascading plants, the foliage hides the lattice and pots. And this can be done with recycled materials.”
Other creative options include canvas shoe organisers, ladders, or reclaimed gutters hung on the wall. “If you have an understanding of plants, the options are endless,” Carpenter says. “It comes down to whatever you can conjure up and design.”