Cape Town – City living offers many benefits to those who choose to live in the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle – from the variety of places you can eat, to being a few steps or just a bicycle ride away from the office, to the never-ending excitement of the social scene.
However, there are moments when one tends to miss the soft green surrounds and gentle aromas of a suburban garden that are limited due to the lack of space and density of a city.
A growing trend and answer to every urban gardener’s need for green is the introduction of vertical gardens. Designed and landscaped alongside walls or fences, these green creations (depending on the plant) can be showcased on the inside or outside of your home – allowing homeowners a chance to truly bring nature to the city.
A fine example of how nature and concrete can coincide and bring beauty to our urban spaces, is urban developer Blok’s newest development Sevenons.
“As developers we need to embrace the urban landscape and not neglect this aspect when it comes to our developments; the potential of a new building to impact its environment positively is immense. Then of course there are many additional ways in which developers can contribute to the urban landscape in a positive way- by engaging with urban stakeholders and identifying opportunities where our resources can be used to make a positive and meaningful contribution. For example, public art installations and investing resources where they’re needed, as we’ve done with our Thornhill Park project,” says Lior van Embden, Blok’s head of marketing.
The concept of vertical gardening can seem quite complicated and perhaps a little daunting to those of us whose green fingers aren’t always in-line with our green spirits.
We sat down with the Blok team to chat about why they chose to include these green designs as well as to how you can go about incorporating them into your own home.
“We incorporated vertical gardens into our designs as they soften the urban edge and add life to the built environment. They have also been known to reduce the effects of harmful gases found in an urban environment. Plus, they are so beautiful,” says Van Embden.
Create an urban garden
It is always important to start by choosing the right space for your garden.
The space needs to offer the best visual appeal and enough exposure to sunlight to ensure that the plants grow and blossom.
Once you have chosen your perfect spot – you then need to choose plants that would work in the space you’ve chosen and create the perfect structure.
For the structure, you will need a PVC pipe and four-way joint (this is always the better option as metal adds more weight to the structure and wood requires special protection against moisture). You will also need a strong fabric (like felt carpet padding) which will be where your plants live and where the water is stored.
An irrigation system is extremely important as your fertiliser will also be added to this and it will be the system that keeps your plants green and luscious.
* Attach the plastic sheeting to the frame: the plastic acts a backing layer for the fabric layer and keeps the water off the wall.
* Attach the fabric layer to the plastic sheeting: this is where your plants will live.
* Set up the irrigation system. This will provide your plants with moisture through the fabric layer.
* Add a fertiliser injection and irrigation to a water source: this will send liquid fertiliser into the irrigation system.
* Choose your plants: make sure that these are plants that reduce volatile organic chemicals and are perfect for vertical gardens.
For example: Nephrolepis exaltata, Hedera helix, Liriope sp, Chlorophytum comosum, Epipremnum aureum, Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum and Sansevieria sp. are just some you can choose from.
* Insert plants into the outer layer of the fabric.
* And now to get creative and plan your design. The possibilities are endless.
* Lastly: You will need patience as it will take time to perfect – a good reference source is The Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc (www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com).