Plant Life Balance

No backyard? No worries

For all us city slickers low on outdoor space, having a big backyard can be a bit of a distant dream. But don’t let this get in the way of growing a thriving garden…if you can’t grow out, grow up instead!

You know the old adage, “time is money”? Well, when it comes to living close to the city, you might as well add “space” to the expression, considering how many of us pay for our location with less outdoor space than we might like. If this is you, and your outdoor space only consists of a balcony or tiny terrace, don’t let it stop you from living out your wildest gardening dreams – it just means you have to get creative with how your plants are arranged.

VERTICAL GARDENING: WHAT IS IT?

A vertical garden, also commonly referred to as a green wall, is an arrangement of plants that grows vertically (i.e. up a wall) rather than on the ground. Green walls come in all shapes and sizes – for example, you might know Chippendale’s famous One Central Park in Sydney, which is in fact the world’s tallest vertical garden at an impressive 130 metres, and home to an impressive 383 species of plants.

Vertical gardens aren’t just good for pretty-ing up bare walls – research shows that they also do a great job of removing pollution from the air, increasing a building’s thermal performance (i.e. staying cooler in warm weather, and warmer in cool weather), reducing noise and boosting biodiversity.

Although some pretty fancy vertical gardens exist out there (check out “Park Royal Tower” in Singapore for some hard core vertical greening), that’s not to say you can’t build a simpler version at home on your balcony or terrace. If you’re considering growing up, there’s plenty of options and styles to choose from, depending on how handy you are, how much you want to spend, drainage and water availability. UTS recently put together this online guide outlining eight different options – we’re going to take you through three of their home DIY-friendly designs below.

View this post on Instagram

Here is a row of chard. Our favorite veggie year-round. Full of nutrients and beautiful colors. Vertical set up is a super easy idea to implement on wood fences. A few S-shape hooks and paint buckets and your favorite plants and you’re done. Have fun gardening! 🍓🥬🌼🍅🥦🍆🥒🌤🦋🌻 ——— – – – – #thekiwihome #gardenideas #hanginggarden #plantlady #urbanjungle #swisschard #homegarden #verticalgarden #plantaddict #greenthumb #urbanjunglebloggers #greenlife #gramyourgarden #inmydomaine #myhomevibe #urbangarden #homegrownveggies #homegrown #gardenlife #sodomino #ruedaily #growyourown #urbanfarm #growyourownfood #kitchengarden #gardendesign #lonnyliving #gardeninspiration #veggiegarden #gardenersworld

A post shared by Mi & Ales (@thekiwihome) on

STEP ONE: MAKE AN INFORMED PLAN

Before getting stuck in to your green wall, there’s a few things you should consider to ensure it will be suitable and successful in your space:

  • site selection – find the best spot by assessing sun, wind, rain, orientation, ease of maintenance, water availability and drainage
  • budget  – decide how much you want to spend upfront. Make sure you account for not just of the materials needed to set it up, but installing and maintaining it
  • waterproofing – consider if your green wall has the potential to cause the adjoining building water damage, and if so, how you will avoid that
  • professional advice – if you’re not sure of anything, from health and safety considerations to building regulations, check in with the appropriate professional or authority first
  • plant types – this will be a major factor in your green wall’s success. The plants you select will need to be suitable for the site and the amount of soil supporting your green wall.

STEP TWO: CHOOSE YOUR DESIGN

We told you there were a bunch of options! Our three favourites, in order of difficulty and cost, are:

  • A climbing wall
  • A supported wall
  • A repurposed wall

A climbing wall

The simplest design of them all, the climbing wall is a super-DIY friendly, low-cost, and easy to water option where the plant itself does the heavy lifting. To construct a climbing wall:

  • Select a self-attaching climbing plant that will grow on a wall – plants that use sticky pads or clinging roots to attach to and spread across a surface
  • Examples of climbing plants include ivy (devil’s ivy and english ivy are great options) or star jasmine
  • Plant your wall climber in a pot, and position the pot against a wall
  • Let it grow!

The main thing to keep an eye on with a climbing wall is that it doesn’t end up growing over something it shouldn’t, such as a window of vent.

A supported wall

The next option, a supported wall, is similar to the climbing wall – but makes use of a support structure to assist and direct plant growth. To construct a supported wall:

  • Choose your support. If you have the option of drilling into your wall or facade, you can consider using wall anchors as the support structure
  • If you can’t drill, choose something else that will support your plants – this could be a trellis, mesh, netting, wire, cables (running horizontally or vertically). 
  • Select your plants – wall climbers as described above work best with this design, too.
  • Plant your wall climber in a pot, and position the pot against the wall and support structure.

For a renter-friendly version, choose a support and pot that are both easily transferable so if required, you can simply fold the whole thing up and take it with you.

View this post on Instagram

This is a pic from my vertical garden I created last year. There are currently no plants on it but I do intend to pop some on at some point as it’s so effective. We’ve got so many plans for the garden, I spoke about the decking we are hoping to install at the end of our lawn, but we’re also on the hunt for a swimming pool too. Obv it won’t be an in ground one but we’re going to have a surround made out of decking so that it looks a bit nicer! Our garden is certainly giving us life atm! 🙌🏻 . . . . . . . . . . . . . #garden #gardengoals #gardeninspo #verticalgarden #verticalgardening #gardeninspiration #interior4u #apartmenttherapy #stencilledpath #stencilledpatio #paintedfloor #stencilledfloor #stencilling #diyblogger #diygarden #diyprojects #homedecor #interiormilk #interiorstyling #colourfulinteriors #gardenplants #upcycling

A post shared by Hayley Stuart | Interiors (@iamhayleystuart) on

A upcycled wall

If you would rate your DIY skills as advanced, try your hand at constructing an upcycled wall. This is a cheap and cheerful option that makes use of existing materials you already have lying around, by turning them into planters and attaching to a wall. To construct an upcycled wall:

  • Source your materials to be upcycled. This could be old guttering, PVC piping with drilled holes for planting, palettes or wooden planking to make boxes – anything that could, with a bit of TLC, be turned into a vessel for your plants to grow in and attached to a wall.
  • Attach the material to the wall in the most appropriate way – depending on what your material is, it could be wall anchors, masonry screws or saddle clips. If you’re not sure, check with your local hardware store.
  • Plant out your wall – this design doesn’t require climbing varieties, so get creative! You could create a herb or veggie wall, grasses, succulents…the sky’s the limit.

STEP THREE: CHOOSE YOUR PLANTS

And now for the fun part – once you’ve picked your design, choose what varieties you’re going to plant in your green wall.

In general, it’s recommended that you select evergreens – in other words, plants that will give you that beautiful green coverage all year ’round. But as with any outdoor garden, you will also need to consider:

  • climate – select plants that suit the your region and your space (climate, temperature, sun, wind, rain, orientation)
  • green wall design – if you’re building a climbing wall, for example, you will need climbing plants 
  • soil depth –If the soil depth in your green wall is limited, you will need to ensure your plant selections will tolerate shallow planting conditions
  • use – if you want to be able to eat the fruits of your labour, select vegetables, herbs and native edibles
  • biodiversity – where possible, incorporate native Australian varieties and plants that attract pollinators to support local bee and insect populations.

Common varieties used in green walls include:

  • devil’s ivy
  • heart leafed philodendron
  • boston fern
  • rhaphidophora tetrasperma (“mini monstera”)
  • english ivy
  • star jasmine
  • white correa (native)
  • basket grass (native)
  • blueberry lily (native)

For more personalised recommendations on what will grow well in your region, and in your specific outdoor space, get in touch with your nearest Plant Life Balance accredited nursery and have a chat with the greening experts.

FOR THOSE WITH LITERALLY NO OUTDOOR SPACE…LIKE, NONE

If your living arrangements don’t include a balcony or any kind of outdoor area, not to stress! We’ve got you covered, too. You can easily construct a vertical indoor garden installation with some clever use of existing furniture. Check out our hanging hacks for renters here, and our guide on creating the perfect plant shelfie here.

With the right preparation and care, you can have a green wall up and thriving in no time. 

View this post on Instagram

It’s Earth Day! 🌎 And what better way to celebrate than sharing some of my plant collection with you all! Later today I’m going to walk you through some plant propagation tips in stories so turn on notifications if that’s your thing and you don’t want to miss it! I’ve also teamed up with some of my favourite ladies and they will all be sharing special earth day content throughout the day too – so check them out below for more inspo! ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ @aframe.on.fletcher @designonhermind @gingerdeb.house @helloimaubs @livingawilderlife @ourbarnesyard @peonyandhoney @sweetbungalow ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ #cljsquad #apartmenttherapy #hunkerhome #smmakelifebeautiful #urbanjunglebloggers #currentdesignsituation #lightandbright #housebeautiful #interiorlovers #myplantaesthetic #myhomedecor #mynaturalabode #doingneutralright #makehomematter #hometohave #interiorboom #howwedwell #myinspiredhouse #earthinspiredhome #meandmyabode #thatroomiseverything #myspaceanddecor #ourlayeredhome #pocketofmyhome #mydecorvibe #ihavethisthingwithplants #indoorjungle #jungalowstyle #omysa

A post shared by Debbie Crawford (@gingerdeb.house) on

Add comment