Vertical gardens are having a moment. So, whether you’re considering installing raised beds or green walls, check out Mark and Ben Cullen’s top tips for vertical gardening.
Mark and Ben Cullen’s Top Tips for Vertical Gardening
Build at least a foot tall
If accessibility is your goal, you can build it right up to waist height. Additionally, backfill with a mix of gravel and topsoil to ensure draining. Then add a top layer of triple mix. You’ll want the top 12 to 18 in. of soil to be a good quality triple mix, rich in compost.
Consider spacing and patterns
Maximize the usability of your raised beds. Ensure they’re accessible from all sides and a wheelbarrow can pass through easily. If you decide to use turf pathways, ensure that your lawnmower can manoeuvre. Using patterns can be visually pleasing, especially when arranged geometrically. Though, we recommend that you keep your beds roughly equal-sized if you intend to plant vegetables. The reason is that having equal-sized beds can help with planning year over year as you work through your crop rotations. For example, you won’t have to limit your tomato harvest one year because they’re being rotated into a smaller bed.
Use durable materials
Cedar or redwood are your most naturally rot-resistant materials. In western Canada, red cedar is famous and is exported around the world for these qualities. Many folks don’t realize that locally available white cedar is also well suited for the job in eastern Canada. You can dress up wooden raised beds with capped corner posts or whatever wood finish works within your broader design scheme. Brick raised beds can add a formal look to any garden, regardless of what you decide to grow in them. Additionally, stone works well for cottage gardens. The added benefit of stone is that when constructed using dry masonry, the crevices provide habitat for garden critters. This helps build biodiversity.
Green Living Walls
We specify “living” walls because there are non-living, preserved green walls that can provide a look but do not necessarily fall within our gardening domain. So, here’s what you should consider for a living green wall.
South-, east- and west-facing walls will obviously work best, depending on the light requirements of what you intend to grow. For interior walls, skylights and proximity to windows will be key. Anything further than 10 ft. from a window, the natural light penetration drops off dramatically.
Whether for interior or exterior walls, keeping moisture away from building architecture is crucial. Occasionally, we see purpose-built exterior living walls which can be built from the ground up to accommodate the moisture that accompanies plants, where creative freedoms and costs are less restricted. Interior mold and exterior rot can be unfortunate consequences of a mismanaged green wall, so take great care to protect your wall using an impermeable plastic membrane, such as an exterior basement waterproofing membrane.
By Mark Cullen & Ben Cullen | Produced by Reno & Decor
Launched in 1990, RENO & DECOR is Canada’s Home Idea Book, inspiring readers with the latest in tips and trends for their decorating and renovating.
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