Vertical gardening, raised beds & biodiversity

Vertical gardening, raised beds & biodiversity

What are vertical gardens & raised beds?

Vertical gardens, or green walls, are exactly what they sound like – gardens built upwards instead of outwards!
Vertical gardening is advantageous if space is limited, so growing plants upwards will make the most use of the available space. They are also useful in softening architectural features such as walls and fences, as well as acting as natural screens.
We prefer to re-use wooden pallets when creating vertical gardens, as they are already incorporate a suitable design for planting beds, and they are a great sturdy recyclable material to use.
 

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A wonderful example of a recycled pallet used as a vertical flower garden.

Raised beds are used to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. Compared to conventional garden beds, raised beds are more manageable to use, easier to plant and weed, drainage is better, the soil is easier to improve and dig and crops tend to grow better!
As with the vertical gardens, we like to use recycled timber where possible as it is more sustainable and better value, as well as being easily customized and adapted.

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A raised bed can be perfect for a herb garden.

Why is plant diversity a good thing?

The more diversity in a garden – that is, the more plant and animal life in a given area, the better it is for the overall environment of the garden. Natural ecosystems can be self sustaining, and encouraging this through using varieties of plants that also encourage the present of wildlife will be beneficial all round.
 

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Using a diverse range of plants in a garden can have much wider ranging benefits than just appearance!

The opposite to biodiversity is mono crop growing or intensive farming. This reduces the number of plant and animal species present and can also damage the soil, making the recovery and growth of the ecosystem very difficult.

Attracting wildlife?

 

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Attracting wildlife with suitable food sources and shelter is the easiest way to increase biodiversity in a garden.

Attracting wildlife to the garden is a great way to boost the levels of biodiversity, and will help to naturally benefit the garden. One of the easiest ways is by planting shrubs that attract particular insects and birds. These shrubs can also provide food for them, such as berries in Autumn for birds and nectar for bees.
 

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Bees play essential roles as pollinators in gardens.

Where do we start?

The Susliving Tech Mentors have run workshops in several schools based around the construction of vertical gardens and raised beds, and on the topics of biodiversity and maintenence of gardens. You can see some examples of what they achieved here:

Video log of raised bed and nature seat at Sligo Grammar School.
Biodiversity and horticulture at East Glendalough School.
Biodiversity & green building projects at Wilson’s Hospital School.
Raised garden beds at School of the Holy Spirit.
Biodiversity projects at St Brigid’s College.

If your school is interested or would like to know more, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

 

- Elmer Dool
Susliving Tech Mentor: Biodiversity & Horticulture
You can email me with questions or advice at info@susliving.org

The Susliving Team

The Susliving Team

The Susliving Organisation was founded by a group of individuals with a diverse range of experience and expertise in sustainability in Ireland and internationally, for the purpose of promoting and exploring ideas about sustainable living at school, at work and throughout the community.