Accessible Gardening

Gardening for all abilities.

Vertical Gardens: An Accessible and Beautiful Option

Vertical gardens are an excellent option for people with disabilities or mobility difficulties. Here's how to get started with yours!
Vertical Gardens and How to Create Them

Vertical gardens are a growing trend in urban areas all around the world because they offer a sustainable way to add greenery to often concrete-filled landscapes. However, their benefits go far beyond just aesthetics. Vertical gardens, in fact, have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities and mobility issues. 

In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which vertical gardens can be a game-changer for accessibility, making it easier for disabled individuals to enjoy the many benefits of gardening, including improved mental health, better nutrition, and a stronger sense of community. We’ll also highlight some of the key considerations for creating accessible vertical gardens so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of this exciting new trend.

What is a Vertical Garden?

A vertical garden, also known as a green wall or living wall, is a type of garden that is grown vertically, rather than horizontally. It involves the use of special structures, such as trellises, panels, or modular systems, which allow plants to be grown on a vertical surface, such as a wall or fence.

Vertical gardens can be installed both indoors and outdoors, and they can be created using a variety of plant species, from herbs and vegetables to flowering plants and shrubs.

What Are The Benefits of a Vertical Garden?

Vertical gardens offer a wide range of benefits for both individuals and communities. Let’s go through them in some more detail. 

  • Improved air quality: Vertical gardens help to filter pollutants and improve air quality.
  • Increased access to fresh produce: Vertical gardens allow individuals and communities to grow their own fruits and vegetables, even in urban areas with limited space.
  • Improved mental health: Gardening has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Enhanced aesthetics: Vertical gardens can add visual interest to buildings and public spaces.

Overall, vertical gardens are a sustainable and innovative way to promote a healthier and more livable urban environment. So, it’s not a surprise that they continue to grow in popularity for people of all ages and abilities!

Vertical Gardens: An Accessible and Beautiful Option for All
A vertical garden (albeit one smaller than this!) can be an excellent idea for growing vegetables and plants without having to bend over.

Why are Vertical Gardens Good for People with Disabilities?

Vertical gardens can be particularly beneficial for people with disabilities.

For instance, vertical gardens are more accessible. They can, in fact, be designed to be wheelchair accessible, allowing individuals with mobility issues to work on them and enjoy nature without having to bend or kneel on the ground.

Vertical gardens are also very convenient because they can be placed in easily accessible locations, such as on a balcony or terrace, which can make it easier for individuals with disabilities to care for their plants.

As we mentioned above, these types of gardens also offer some therapeutic benefits and can be used to grow fresh produce

How do you Create a Vertical Garden?

Creating a vertical garden can be done in a few simple steps. It’s important to dedicate some time to planning – for example, by picking a location that receives enough sunlight or choosing plants that are suitable for this type of planting.

Let’s now go through these steps in a little more detail.

1. Choose your Location

The first thing you should do when considering a vertical garden is identify a suitable location. For example, a wall, fence, or balcony. As you might guess, vertical gardens do better in… well, vertical surfaces! Although you don’t need a 90-degree wall. You can also stack planters in a way that, generally, tends to grow upwards. 

The most important consideration when designing a vertical garden and choosing a location is to make sure the spot actually receives adequate sunlight and has access to water. Both of these things are essential to ensure your garden can succeed. As we will see below, you don’t necessarily need full sun – but no plants can grow without some light, and most need at least an amount of water!

Let’s see a few examples of locations that would work for a vertical garden. 

If you’re looking to fill an office space with plants, you can create a living wall in the lobby or common areas. The same applies to cafes and restaurants, as well as schools, shopping malls, and hotels. These green walls will provide these spaces with aesthetic appeal and also give people a chance to learn more about plants. 

A living wall in an office.
A living wall in an office.

2. Select Your Plants

Choose plants that are suitable for vertical gardening, such as herbs, succulents, or flowering plants. As we covered above, you should always consider the light and water requirements of the plants you choose, too. Here are some ideas and tricks to help you choose the best veggies and plants for your vertical garden:

  • Consider the amount of sunlight: Always pay attention to the amount of sunlight your vertical garden will receive. This will help you determine which plants will thrive in the conditions of your vertical garden. Some plants require access to full sun, but others can also do okay in partial shade or full shade.
  • Choose the right soil: Choose high-quality potting soil that is suitable for your plants. Soil that is lightweight and well-draining is ideal for a vertical garden.
  • Consider the size and weight of the plants: Choose plants that are suitable for the size and weight of your vertical garden system. Smaller plants, such as herbs and succulents, are generally well-suited for vertical gardens.
  • Think about watering needs: Consider the watering needs of the plants you choose. Plants with shallow root systems may require more frequent watering than those with deep root systems.
  • Choose plants with varied textures and colors: To create an interesting and visually appealing vertical garden, choose plants with a range of textures and colors. Mix plants with contrasting colors and leaf shapes to create a beautiful and dynamic garden.

If you’re looking for specific plants that are ideal for a vertical garden, here are ten that do well in this layout:

  • Ferns (Nephrolepis spp.): Ferns are excellent choices for vertical gardens due to their lush and feathery foliage. They thrive in shaded or partially shaded areas.

  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Pothos is a popular and low-maintenance choice for vertical gardens. It has heart-shaped leaves that come in various variegated patterns.

  • Philodendron (Philodendron spp.): These tropical plants have attractive, glossy leaves and are adaptable to different light levels, making them suitable for various vertical garden locations.

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Spider plants are known for their air-purifying abilities and produce baby plantlets on long arching stems, making them visually appealing in a vertical setup.

  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria spp.): Snake plants are hardy, low-light tolerant, and require minimal care, making them ideal for vertical gardens in various environments.

  • Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus spp.): These flowering plants have vibrant red or pink tubular flowers, adding a splash of color to your vertical garden.
  • Wall Ivy (Hedera helix): Also known as English Ivy, wall ivy is a classic choice for vertical gardens and can be trained to climb on structures.

  • Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana): This succulent produces clusters of colorful flowers and is well-suited to vertical gardens in sunny locations.

  • Baby’s Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii): This delicate, creeping plant forms a lush carpet of tiny leaves, perfect for covering vertical surfaces.

  • Maidenhair Vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa): A twining vine with small, delicate leaves, ideal for creating a green screen effect on walls.

Click here for a complete planting calendar.

3. Choose Your Vertical Garden System

Select a suitable system for your vertical garden, such as a modular panel system or a hanging planter. There are several different types of vertical garden systems available to suit a variety of needs and preferences. Each vertical garden system has its own advantages and can be tailored to suit a range of needs and preferences.

One popular type is the modular panel system, which consists of a series of interconnected panels that can be mounted to a wall or fence. The panels have built-in pockets or troughs for planting, and can be customized to fit the size and shape of your space.

Another type of vertical garden system is the hanging planter, which involves suspending planters from a wall or overhead structure. This system is ideal for smaller spaces or where the weight of the plants needs to be distributed evenly.

Additionally, there are also tower-style vertical garden systems, which use a series of stacked pots or planters to create a tower of plants. These systems are particularly useful for those with limited horizontal space but ample vertical space.

Finally, there are living wall systems that can be used to create a stunning vertical garden that covers an entire wall. Living walls typically involve planting pockets or trays mounted on a frame or panel system, which can be customized to create a unique and dynamic garden. 

You can find our collection of planters here.

Vertical garden planter
A vertical garden planter for both indoors and outdoors.

4. Install Your Vertical Garden System

Installing a vertical garden system will vary depending on the type of system you have chosen (for example, whether it’s a living wall with soil-based planting or a hydroponic setup). However, there are some common steps you will encounter in most of them.

As we mentioned above, the first thing you will need to do is choose a location for your vertical garden. The most important things to consider here are light and access to water. Then, it’s time to prepare the vertical garden frame. 

Prepare the Frame

If you’re using a ready-made vertical garden frame, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly. If you’re constructing your frame, use sturdy materials that can support the weight of the soil and plants and always make sure the system is securely attached to the wall or fence.

Attach the Geotextile Fabric

Line the back of the vertical garden frame with your geotextile fabric or felt. This material is designed to help retain moisture while allowing excess water to drain, so it’s perfect for creating these layouts.

Install an Irrigation System

For make sure your plants remain healthy, consider installing an irrigation system. For example, you can use drip irrigation or a self-watering system – both of which work well for vertical gardens. This will help ensure consistent watering and prevent overwatering so you get a nice and green living wall, always.

Fill the Frame with Soil and Mount/Secure

Now it’s time to fill the frame with suitable soil or growing medium. Choose a mix that provides good drainage while retaining enough moisture for the plants. In some cases, you will also need to mount the garden on a wall and/or add supports to ensure things are safely fastened.

5. Plant Your Vertical Garden

Once you’ve filled your chosen planters with soil, it’s time to carefully plant your chosen greens.

Make sure the plants are spaced appropriately and have adequate room to grow. Pick plants that are suitable for your vertical garden’s lighting conditions and climate. Arrange them in the frame, considering their growth habits and aesthetic appeal, and carefully place each in the soil. Make sure the plants are securely placed and well-supported within the vertical garden. 

6. Water and Care for Your Vertical Garden

Water your plants regularly and fertilize them as needed. Prune and maintain your plants to keep them healthy and looking their best. Regularly monitor your vertical garden for any signs of issues, such as pests or diseases. Enjoy the beauty of your living wall and make any necessary adjustments to ensure its long-term success.

Keep in mind that specific instructions may vary based on the type of vertical garden system you choose and the plants you decide to grow. So, it’s essential to research the specific needs of your selected plants and adjust your care accordingly.

Adaptive Gardening Tools:
Vertical Gardens

If you’re looking to start your own vertical garden, it can feel a little overwhelming to choose the right products to get started. To make the process easier, here’s a list of our top recommended vertical garden products to help you create your dream garden.

Conclusion: Should You Consider a Vertical Garden?

Creating a vertical garden is a fun and rewarding way to add greenery to your home or outdoor space. With a little planning and effort, you can create a beautiful and sustainable garden that provides a range of benefits for you and your community.

Vertical gardens offer a range of benefits for people with disabilities, including improved accessibility, convenience, and therapeutic benefits. They also provide an opportunity for community involvement and can help to improve nutrition and access to fresh produce. Vertical gardens are a sustainable and innovative way to promote a healthier and more livable urban environment.

By creating a garden that is accessible and convenient, anyone can enjoy the many benefits of gardening and connect with nature in a way that is both enjoyable and therapeutic.