> Vertical and mobile gardens
Design and create a vertical or mobile garden
Green neighbourhoods are healthy neighbourhoods! Studies have shown that just looking at scenes of nature can reduce stress and can support good mental and physical health. Of course not everyone has access to a high amount of green space or the open space needed for creating them, especially in densely populated areas. However for those schools short on space, vertical and mobile gardens provide an opportunity to increase green spaces.
What are vertical gardens? Vertical gardens are grown upwards! They can be grown against a wall or fence, or around an existing post (such as around a pergola or verandah post).
What is a mobile garden? A mobile garden is grown in an object that can be moved, such as a trolley or old wheelbarrow.
What are the benefits of vertical and mobile gardens?
- They can be used to shield buildings and windows from heat, rain, sunlight, UV rays and passers by;
- They can increase biodiversity at your school by providing food and habitat for birds and insects;
- They can be used to hide unsightly/unattractive features;
- They can be placed out of reach of pests, like rabbits, snails or caterpillars, making it much easier to avoid using pesticides;
- Vertical gardens are good for those who have difficulty bending over;
- Mobile gardens can be moved meaning you don’t ‘lose’ open space at your school. In addition, mobile gardens can be moved to maximize different seasonal conditions and can be taken home over the holidays;
- Both mobile and vertical gardens can be made from re-purposed materials (for example, vertical gardens can be made from plastic bottles and mobile gardens can be made from old wheelbarrows or trolleys).
How To Do It
Planning your garden
There are a number of different types of gardens you could plant:
- Edible gardens: Grow and harvest your own food (e.g. herbs, strawberries, lettuces) for you and your students to eat and enjoy.
- Native garden: Grow plants specifically for the purpose of attracting native birds, butterflies and bugs to your garden.
- Ornamental: Grow a range of plants with flowers and leaves of different colours to provide sensory stimulation to children.
What type of garden you plant will depend on the space you have available and what you want from your garden – is it educational, aesthetic, for an environmental purpose (i.e. to increase biodiversity) or all three? Visit your local nursery to find out what plants will be most suitable to your needs and to the conditions in your area.
As part of your planning process you will need to identify how gardens can be watered during holiday periods. Many native plants tolerate dry conditions very well so planting these plants is sensible if watering during holidays will be difficult. Bear in mind though that these plants will thrive when watered regularly (at least once a week).
You may also want to have a look at our guide to building a vertical garden. Mulching will reduce the need for watering, fertilizers will provide nourishment for plants and even talking positively to your plants can help them grow strong and healthy!
Quick tip: Teachers, parents and students can collect and donate materials and cuttings for the garden. How to cultivate plants.
Whole school tips
- Different year levels could be responsible for different tasks in the garden, such as watering, pest control or mulching. This can be done through a roster system so each year level is involved in each activity.
- Students could participate in a photography competition to see who can take the best plant/garden photo.
- Students could create a stop-motion animation of the design, construction, planting and growing of the garden.
What’s Our Impact?
A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!
- CO2E (weekly) 0.17
- CO2E (annual) 8.9
- Black balloons (weekly) 3.4
- Black balloons (annual) 178
A US study found that stress levels were reduced for children through high levels of nearby nature (nature close to their homes) compared to those with little nearby nature. Learn more at Planet Ark.
The same US study found that children with higher levels of nearby nature had a higher sense of self-worth. High self-worth in children makes them more resilient during life’s stressful times. Learn more at Planet Ark.
Children with ADHD and ADD concentrate, complete tasks and follow directions better after they play outside in green settings. The greener the setting, the more improvement they show. Learn more at Planet Ark.