A water wise vertical garden

Here’s a unique way of adding interest to a boring corner in an entrance way, or screening off an area of your garden or car park.

Create a vertical garden that is inexpensive to build, using easily sourced local materials and water wise plants that are low maintenance and look good all year round. The guide below will give you all the instructions you need to assemble your own 100% organic vertical garden.

What you need
• A support structure to attach the planting pockets to – you could use a wooden or metal trellis or a strong picture frame.
• 90% shade cloth (dark green or black – a pale colour will be too visible)
• Black builder’s twine
• Recycled picture frames, painted

• High quality compost
• Hammer, nails and scissors
• A range of succulent plant cuttings

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Position the trellis and frames
• If you use a trellis, fix it in position well enough that it can take the weight of the vertical garden you are going to hang.
• We used a wooden trellis with legs 1m long that we buried into the ground. We then added more support in the form of gum poles positioned at either end of the trellis.
• Attach the recycled picture frames on the trellis using a hammer and nails.

Top tips
• Your support structure must be strong enough to bear the weight of your planting pocket/s.
• A freestanding trellis will need to be firmly secured in the ground.
• If you want to hang a trellis or frame on a wall you will need to check that the wall is strong enough to bear the weight and that you install strong enough brackets to support it.

 

Cut a 10cm piece of builder’s twine, tie a knot in one end and then use the wire needle to pass it through the shade cloth 10cm from the top corner of the pocket

 

Step 2: Make the planting pockets
• Measure out your shade cloth to fit the frames you have chosen: cut each piece of cloth to fit the width of the frame and twice the length.
• Fold the cloth in half and sew up the sides using the black builder’s twine and wire needle. Make sure you leave the top of the pocket open.
• Cut a 10cm piece of builder’s twine, tie a knot in one end and then use the wire needle to pass it through the shade cloth 10cm from the top corner of the pocket. Tie a knot at the other end. Repeat this every 10cm over the whole pocket – as seen in the picture. These knots will prevent the compost from all falling to the bottom and bulging out once the pocket is filled. Make sure that your knots are all in straight lines (not zigzagged) so that it’s easy to fill the pockets. Do not sew lines across the pocket, as this will impede the growth of your plant roots as well as interfere with the feeding and watering of your plants.

 

Fill the planting pockets with high quality compost, to avoid having to feed your plants too often and to encourage rapid root growth.

 

Step 3: Filling and hanging the pockets.

• Fill the planting pockets with high quality compost, to avoid having to feed your plants too often and to encourage rapid root growth.
• Once full, give the pocket a good shake to fill any air gaps.
• Soak the filled pockets in a tub of water for an hour to saturate the compost mixture.
• Hang the pocket at the back of the trellis so that the open side is level with the top of a recycled picture frame.
• Reinforce the pockets support using builder’s twine looped around the bottom of the pocket and secured to the top of the recycled picture frame. Add one loop of reinforcing twine for every 10cm of pocket.

 

Hang the pocket at the back of the trellis so that the open side is level with the top of a recycled picture frame. Reinforce the pockets support using builder’s twine looped around the bottom of the pocket and secured to the top of the recycled picture frame.

Step 4: Planting
• Collect a range of cuttings from your succulents or those of your friends. Cuttings are better than plants with roots, as you do not have to cut as big a hole in the shade cloth for planting.
• Choose smaller cuttings, as they will take root and recover faster than larger ones.
• To plant: cut an upside-down T-shape in the shade cloth, as small as possible, and insert the stem of the succulent cutting.
• Make sure you select a range of plants that have varying flowering times, growth forms, contrasting colours and shapes. You should also take their adult size into account.

 

To plant: cut an upside-down T-shape in the shade cloth, as small as possible, and insert the stem of the succulent cutting.

 

Top tips
Make sure you choose plant species that require the right amount of sun and shade experienced in the location in which you place your vertical garden. Some succulent species prefer full sun, while others can tolerate partial to full shade.

Plant choices
There is an enormous range of plants to choose from when making a water wise vertical garden.
• Echeveria species
• Scrambling aloes
• Kalanchoe species
• Crassula species
• Bulbinella
• Plectranthus
Small bromeliads can be planted alongside your succulents, just make sure they can handle the amount of sunlight the vertical garden receives.

Step 5: Feeding, watering and maintenance
• Keep the compost mixture inside the pockets constantly moist until you can see that all of your succulent cuttings have rooted and are showing new growth.
• As long as the vertical garden is never left to dry out entirely, you should only need to add minimal water once a week in the dry season.
• Watch the compost level at the open top end of the pocket and top it up as necessary.
• No additional feeding is needed.
• Cut off dead flower heads, damaged growth and replace plants that show any signs of rot in the wet season.

By Lindsay Charters

The Garden Club Gardening Courses

Exciting and informative courses, equipping garden enthusiasts and employees of all levels with knowledge and new techniques.

lindsay@thegardenclub.co.zw
www.thegardenclub.co.zw[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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