Home Gardening India: Benefits of a Vertical Garden
As urban landscapes around the world are expanding, more and more people are realising the importance of greenery. Green walls or vertical gardens are increasingly sprouting up in cities not just for the purpose of beautification but also to reduce the alarming ill-effects of urbanisation on the environment. As author Derek Fell said, “Vertical gardening is an innovative, effortless and highly productive growing system that uses bottom-up and top-down supports for a wide variety of plants, in both, small and large garden spaces.”
This kind of a green wall is either a free-standing wall or a part of a building that is either partially or fully covered in vegetation. Although Stanley Hart White, a professor of landscape architecture, is credited with having first introduced this concept in 1938, world-famous botanist Patrick Blanc is the one who popularised it; in the past twenty five years he has created many such stunning installations around the globe. Blanc believes that the need for vertical gardens or ‘vegetal walls’ as he calls them, is imperative in urban areas in order to increase interaction between human beings and nature.
An interesting fact is that plants don’t always need soil to grow. Water, nutrients, light and carbon dioxide are enough to conduct the process of photosynthesis. When plants are allowed to grow on a surface (for example, a wall), without water, their roots tend to damage the wall’s surface by eroding it; however, if they’re provided with water, they’ll then start growing along the surface of the wall thereby beautifying the wall without affecting its inner structure. This is how Patrick Blanc conceptualised the vertical garden. These vegetal walls usually comprise of three layers namely; a metal frame, a PVC layer and a felt mat. The metal frame can be self-standing or hung on a wall and proves as a good thermic and phonic isolation system. The PVC sheet attached to the metal frame makes it waterproof while the layer of felt on top of prevents the structure from rotting while at the same time allows for a steady and even distribution of water through its pores. The plant’s roots take hold on the felt layer after they’re installed in the form of seeds or cuttings. The watering is done from the top and the vertical garden starts to flourish! As simple as that! An added advantage of these structures is that they are super light as there’s no weight of the soil, thereby making them a viable option even on the tallest of skyscrapers! You could even hang plants in pouches, planters or trays that are attached to the wall by brackets and are perforated at the bottom to allow proper drainage of water.
The environmental benefits of this kind of urban gardening are immense……from ridding the air of pollutants to increasing biodiversity by creating a habitat for birds and insects! These vertical gardens also help to lower energy consumption by keeping the building cool during the sweltering heat of the summers and acting as natural insulators during the cold harsh winters.
Vertical gardens make healthier plants as their upward movement, off the ground, gives them ample sunshine and makes them less prone to attack by pests or damage of any kind. There’s no doubt that these ‘vegetal walls’ enhance the visual appeal of any structure they grow on; they add character to the otherwise stark and lacklustre buildings quite often found in cities. One of the greatest benefits of vertical gardens is that they help to save water. Since watering is done by a drip-irrigation or hydroponic method, the water systematically flows downwards and collects in trays at the bottom which can then be put through the same process or recycled for other needs.
Some of the world’s most beautiful vertical gardens include the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, the Plaza de Espana in Spain, CapitaLand in Singapore, the Halles Avignon in Cote d’Azue Provence, the Caixa Forum in Madrid and the Butterfly National Theatre in Taipei, to name a few.
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A vertical garden completely transforms the look of any place and more and more people are using this clever design idea in their homes, besides hotels, offices and other buildings. Forests are cut down to build cities so it’s only fair to complete that cycle by reintroducing some verdant landscapes in such areas. Vertical gardens help to make the best use of urban spaces and let’s admit it, a bit of greenery infused in today’s concrete jungles really wouldn’t hurt!
Images by: Patio Bangalore.