By Laura Firszt, Networx
Gardens that grow vertically rather than spreading across the landscape are all the rage among urban gardening fans these days. Their popularity is due in large part to the fact that they allow home owners and renters alike to grow bountiful crops of produce or flowers in a small area of square footage. You don’t need a big backyard -- a vertical garden will work just fine on a small strip of soil in front of your house or even on a balcony. But beyond their highly-touted space-saving abilities, vertical gardens have a host of other benefits to offer you.
1. Hard-working vertical gardens help shield your home’s exterior against harsh weather conditions and ultraviolet rays. If you live in an exceptionally rainy state like Alabama, “green wall” gardens can help protect your paint job from damage.
2. These vertical plantings also act as a form of insulation, increasing the energy efficiency of your dwelling and potentially earning LEED credits for your house.
3. Placed on the outside of a window, a vertical garden will shade the room from both strong sunlight and inquisitive passersby, as well as creating a lovely view in a crowded urban neighborhood.
4. Vertical gardens may be either trained to grow up an existing fence or supported on purpose-built frames or posts. These green fences will offer you not only privacy and aesthetic appeal, but also noise reduction.
5. You might want to hide unsightly objects on your property, such as garbage cans or an electric meter, with a screen formed by vertical plantings.
6. Indoors, a vertical garden will work as an attractive room divider. Planting in wheeled containers is recommended so that the divider can be moved -- or removed altogether -- according to your needs.
7. Speaking of indoor vertical gardens, adding plants inside your home will serve to improve the air quality. Live greenery removes carbon dioxide and absorbs common indoor pollutants like formaldehyde (yuck!), found in some carpet dyes and wood flooring resins.
8. Vertical gardens lend themselves to the use of repurposed materials. They may be planted in such unusual “pots” as recycled plastic bottles or old shoe organizers.
9. For folks living in urban apartments or working in office cubicles, vertical gardens can provide access to soothing natural beauty, necessary for mental health.
10. Gardeners with conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia are able to enjoy tending and harvesting their flowers or vegetables without the physical stress of having to bend and kneel.
11. People whose yards contain poor quality soil or large tree roots do not have to invest time and money remedying these inconveniences, but rather just set up a vertical container garden.
12. Vertical gardens may be placed out of easy reach of animal and insect pests like rabbits, snails or earwigs, making organic gardening without pesticides much easier.
13. It is much easier to control the spread of weeds, which minimizes time spent on one of the least pleasant gardening tasks.
14. Growing upward is also beneficial for the vegetation itself. The surface of the plants receives greater exposure to the sun and increased air circulation, with healthier growth as the happy result.