Why is the vertical space in your garden important?

Why is the vertical space in your garden important?

Vertical space in a garden is important for several reasons. It allows for increased plant and crop production in a limited horizontal area, making it an efficient use of space. A green wall or a support system on the vertical space can maximize the yield of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in a confined area, allowing gardeners to grow a greater variety of plants even in limited space.

Vertical gardening can be aesthetically pleasing, creating lush, green walls or cascading vines that add beauty and visual interest to a garden or outdoor space. By training plants to grow upwards, gardeners can create living walls or trellises that not only serve as functional growing spaces, but also give softening to fence line, provide screening for privacy and they will enhance the overall appeal of the garden.

Vertical gardening can provide additional benefits such as shading and cooling in outdoor spaces. Tall, climbing plants can provide shade for other, more sensitive plants, protecting them from hot sun exposure. This can be particularly useful in hot climates where excessive heat can damage or stress plants.

Vertical gardening also offers the benefit of improved air circulation, which is crucial for plant health. By allowing plants to grow vertically, gardeners can minimize the risk of certain diseases and pests that thrive in overcrowded or stagnant conditions. Adequate air circulation can also promote healthier plant growth and reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew.

Using vertical space for vegetation can contribute to improved air quality and environmental benefits. By increasing the number of plants in a given area, particularly in urban environments, vertical gardening can help mitigate air pollution and reduce the urban heat island effect. Plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, playing a crucial role in purifying the air.

The vertical space in a garden can be used for creating habitats for beneficial insects and pollinators. By incorporating vertical structures and plants, gardeners can attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, which help control pest populations, as well as bees and butterflies, which aid in pollination. This can contribute to a more balanced and thriving ecosystem within the garden.

Vertical gardening can be an innovative solution for individuals with physical limitations or limited mobility. By raising plants to a more accessible height, it can make gardening tasks more manageable and enjoyable for people with disabilities or those who have difficulty bending or kneeling.

Another attribute of vertical gardens which is often forgotten about is that they can serve as effective noise barriers and privacy screens in outdoor spaces. Taller plants and trellises can help absorb sound and create a peaceful, private retreat within a garden or outdoor area.

Ways of introducing plantings to the vertical plane

A bare wall is an ideal spot to grow a climber over. You will need to provide some type of support for the climber to grow on unless you use a self-clinging species such as Boston Ivy pr Creeping Fig.  Please note that with these species walls can be damaged by the aerial roots.

Installing metal, timber or wire archways or pergolas across pathways or between garden beds will create a strong support to grow climbers.  These structures will become garden features and give another architectural element to the garden.  

Timber, bamboo or metal tripods could be used for climbers to grow on these could be placed in the centre of garden beds almost like a piece of sculpture.  You could also use them in the veggie garden to grow peas, squash, zucchini or melons on.  

Prefabricated or custom made decorative screens can be added to fence lines, or walls to give a deeper perspective to space.

Old terracotta pipes, pieces of stone from site or bricks could be used to form a low (no retaining) wall that can be used to divide garden beds into different sections.  They could be curved to give a sinuous sculptural line through the garden.  The juxtaposition between greenery and a hardscape material moving through a bed can give interesting contrasts in textures.

You could also create a higher wall such as a skeleton wall where you have the beams and posts giving you the outline form of a wall however gaps are left in between to give you windows through the wall. The skeleton wall acts as a divider between areas but it doesn’t block off the views.  These can make the spaces feel larger and more expansive.  Some of the panels could be filled in with different materials or they could be painted to block some views but leave others open.  

Using the vertical space in a garden is a wonderful opportunity to enhance the outdoor aesthetics, provide environmental benefits, improving air circulation, attracting beneficial insects, help deal with physical limitations, creating privacy and noise barriers, and fostering creativity and artistic expression. By utilizing vertical gardening techniques, gardeners can make the most of limited space or give a deeper dimension to their gardens all while enjoying a host of practical, aesthetic, and environmental advantages.

Glenice Buck