Vertical gardens, also known as living walls, green walls, or sky farms, are being seen in growing numbers in both public places and private homes. For people who have limited space and still want to enjoy flowers or vegetables, or for those who are just looking for a creative decorative touch, you may want to consider a vertical garden. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of a vertical garden, the plants can improve the quality of the air by acting as a natural filter and adding humidity.

A vertical garden is a freestanding or built-in vertical wall of living plants. These walls can be built inside or outside, can range in size from just a few plants to elaborate structures with many thousand plants, and can be made with or without the use of soils. While vertical gardens are similar in concept to some of the recent green roofing techniques, they differ in that their primary purpose is usually artistic as opposed to being an integral part of the buildings structure. The very concept of vertical gardens came from nature. If you look closely at many hillsides, or even the side of a tree, especially in tropical regions, you will notice a number of living plants ranging in size from minute to very large specimens. These plants generally live in a symbiotic relationship with the tree or earth and are dependent on each other for supplies such as water and nutrients, or even defenses against insects.

The most well known designer of vertical gardens is Patrick Blanc who has implemented his design around the world. For some amazing photos, check out his web site here.

The form of a vertical garden depends on the size and purpose of the structure. They can be as simple as gutters attached to the outside of a house with plants, or as elaborate as large wire frames filled with dirt and compostable material. The artistic nature of the walls leaves room for creativity. Even basic metal pot holders with multiple places for plants are a type of vertical garden.

While almost any plant can be used in a vertical garden, the best choices are plants with shallow roots. The site ELT Living Walls has excellent suggestions on plants that have been shown to be successful in vertical gardens. Smaller vegetable plants and herbs are good choices and can contribute to a vertical garden that can be used in the kitchen. Whatever design you choose, vertical gardens are creative and earth friendly ways to add color and personality to any building.