VERTISCAPING - A New Dimension of Growing Small Stem Crops for Environmental Sustainability

Alamuru Krishna Chaitanya
Alamuru Krishna Chaitanya


According to the United Nations forecast, seventy percent of the world population will be living in cities by 2050 (Anonymous, 2007). Such major shift away from rural and naturally vegetated to the polluted, noisy and crowded concrete jungle of modern cities is and will continue to be profound. We must find new and innovative ways to better integrate nature into our new expanding cities. "Liveable city" concept emerged as a new urban approach in 21st century. Green roofs and parks are one way to do this, but there are substantial amounts of vertical space that for the most part have been underutilized. Minimizing the pressure on the limited/ non-renewable resources in order to convey them to the future generations describes the concept of sustainability. The terms green wall, living wall, plant wall or vertical garden are used interchangeably but appertain to the same general concept. Green walls are self sufficient vertical gardens that are attached to the exterior or interior of the building. They differ from green facades in that the plants root in a structural support, which is fastened to the wall itself (Anonymous, 2009).

“Imagine a 10-story building whose walls are green and growing – nurtured by the structure’s bio-permeable skin and compatible mechanical structural system. Picture mile after mile of leafy, flowering sound barriers  along our highways, every square yard producing oxygen, fixing atmospheric carbon, settling particulates and even sheltering bird nests. Green walls.” -Jon Charles Coe

What are Green Walls? 

This paper looks at the means of masking architecture in facades of plant material. Covering them with green screens (climbing plants) and living walls (plants rooted on the wall) is the primary focus. Other means, such as the use of hedges or green roofs, should be considered outside the immediate scope of research. They may be referred to at times, but the goal is to look at the functions, advantages and disadvantages of green wall technology. The hope is that green walls and similar elements will achieve a more mainstream understanding and acceptance and be added to the toolbox of every landscape architect. Designers are often limited by more than just their imaginations, and this paper should provide ammunition to any designer who wishes to make the case for green walls.

Historical Uses 

Historically, green walls and similar methods of construction have had extensive use throughout the world. Despite the recent resurgence of the technology, the advantages associated with green walls have been known and put to use for thousands of years. Techniques similar in style and effect to green walls and screens include espalier, green roofs, turf houses and earth shelters.

Objective of the Concept:-

  • A Farmer in India should become self sustained with his own economy.

  • In simple words we can say that if a farmer is poor and having small piece of land but want to have higher yield in large quantity there should be adoption of this Vertiscaping technology so that he can get more yield and in less space with less irrigation and less tillage practices and less Machinery.  

  • This Article is not on the ornamental crops and climbers mostly, we are thinking and doing on the crop plants to but mainly for transplanting paddy or other short stemmed vegetable crops like coriander etc… Short stemmed plants like coriander, pudhina, green leafy vegetables have generally small roots which are not that much deep (Mostly about 6 Cm).

  • Due to increasing urbanization and globalization, population rate is increasing day by day, leading to increase in the value of land hence farmers are facing difficulty in buying the land. For this there is an integrated solution for sustaining livelihood and environmental stability.

Selection of crops for using this technology:-

  • Generally all the ornamental crops are cultivated using green technology. 

  • But why not crop plants in developing country like India are cultivated through VERTISCAPING.

  • Due to many reasons and lack of technical knowledge to farmer this is not being adopted.

  • So selection of crop plants is the most important thing.

  • Initially one can prefer small length crop plants having medium sized length for growing.

  • The crop plants like rice, coriander, green leafy vegetables are most preferable for this technology.


Green Walls:-

This term refers to a wall that incorporates vegetation into its structure or onto its surface, and which does not require plants to be rooted in a substrate at the base of the walls with green facades.

Hydroponic system

In this  system, a frame  is erected, simply a vertical beam or, for  large projects, aslattice work and waterproof panels are then fastened to it. Two layers of material are stapled to the waterproof panels. The material is made up of recycled synthetic fiber spun non woven matrix. Plants are placed between the two layers of material in hand cut pockets. The plants are placed with inert substrate like perlite or vermiculite around the roots to hold the moisture for  longer time.  The drip  irrigation system  is  placed  between  the  two  layers of  material allowing the water to slowly percolate downward for irrigation as well as fertigation. 

Modular boxes

This system use substrate holding containers made of plastic or metal. The substrate is packed directly into the empty container or placed in a water permeable, synthetic fiber bag.The  containers are  connected  together  and  anchored  to  the  wall  or  to  an  independent structurally  secure  metal  rack  or  framework.  Alternatively,  plastic  or  metal  growing containers can be hung on a metal grid or plastic modules having bracket fixed into wall onwhich pots are fixed.

Cost Consideration

Each green wall or facade will vary significantly in terms of cost, depending on the site, the system installed and the construction materials used. Costs can be reduced in small projects as ‘do it yourself’ installations, involving less personnel and smaller spaces, but these are also difficult to estimate. Construction costs will vary according to location, access for installation may required mobile cranes etc.

Environmental and ecological impacts

Vertical gardens positively contribute to both living space and the city by creating a living environment inside.

Reduction of urban heat island effect

Water loses from the plants through evapotranspiration reduces the temperature in the surrounding atmosphere.

Improvement of air quality

Plants absorb the sun light and produce glucose and oxygen by splitting the carbon dioxide produced by living things and water. Vertical garden practices in interior and exterior spaces filters chemical particles in the air such as CO2, NO2, SO2, CO etc. Plants in the interior vertical gardens can degrade VOCs, benzene, toluene and other toxic fumes (Darlington et al., 2001).

Improvement of energy efficiency

The vertical garden, creating an air gap between the garden and the wall, slows down the vertical movement of heat, and thus heat is captured during cold weather and isolated during hot weather. A vertical garden can reduce impact of the wind by 75% and heating demand by 25% (Peck et al., 1999).

Noise reduction

Vertical gardens can be considered as an additional layer absorbing the external andinternal noise (Peck et al., 1999).

Biodiversity enrichment

Green wall designers need basic knowledge on biodiversity and ecological restoration  for plants as well as on fauna for animals. Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) and morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) attract butterflies and hummingbirds (Anonymous, 2008); other climbers like Campsis radicans,Mandevillea spp., Passiflora  incarnata,Russelia equisetiformis also  attract  purple  sunbird  under  tropical weather. Storm water ponds and filtration systems help in reconstruction of the habitat with certain leaved plants.

Urban agriculture

Rapid urbanization and reduction of rural areas adversely affect the agricultural areas. New food production techniques are tested due to increasing population and urbanization. One of them is vertical agricultural practices emerged due to the reduction of horizontal spaces…

Social Impacts:-

Social impacts present the relationship between the human behaviour, activities and vertical gardens.

Psychological impact

Horticulture has a therapy field regulating human-plant relationship to reduce stress, fear, anger,  blood pressure and  muscle tension (Brown et al., 2004). A study showed that green plants in the working places reduce absence of the employees by 5-15%. The plants in the classrooms reduced the stress level and increased productivity of the students by 12%

(Butkovich et al., 2008).

Aesthetic impact

The unwanted impacts of artificial and aesthetically weak look can be reduced with vertical  gardens.  Urban  aesthetics increases  with  the  vertical  garden  practices,  deformed structure surfaces can be covered with plants and urban image can be renewed.

Health impact

From a physiological perspective, vertical gardens might have an impact of reducing heart rate and stress (Peck et al., 1999). It is reported that symptoms such as headache might be reduced by at least 20% (Bringslimark et al., 2009).

Job opportunities

New  business  and  job  opportunities  are  created  in  the  market  when  the  local governments  and  private  sector  started  vertical  garden  practices  for  urban  memory  and identity in the institutional green market.


Vertical  gardens  ecologically  contribute  to  urban  life  quality  by  many  ways  to mitigate the problems caused by urban pollutions as well as creating opportunity for urban agricultural  practice. Vertical  gardening poses many  challenges  in  terms  of  appropriate construction  methods,  plant  selection,  maintenance  and  sustainability. There have  been various approaches worldwide towards designing and construction of vertical gardens, each with its own advantages and disadvantages and with some more or less sustainable. The new plant  species  suitable  for  vertical  gardening  should  be  explored  and  the  success  of  the existing plants should be monitored and taken as a research opportunity.

Future Scope:

Points those are to be considered for future considerations  which might  be  very  helpful  for  successful  maintenance  of  bio-wall  for  a  longer  time viz., standardization  of  suitable growing media,  study  on  selection  of  plants  based  on  salt tolerance,  cutting  and  pruning  endurance, salt  accumulation  inside  the  media  through fertilizer application, standardization of dose for soluble graded micro and macro fertilizers, reuse of irrigation water, selection of organic fertilizers, bio-pesticides, bio-fertilizers which have almost zero residual effects, cost effective installation and materials, a unique habitat creation for rare species with comprehensive bio diversity approach.

Author - Alamuru Krishna Chaitanya    ,Dr.Sable P.A. College Of Agriculture ,Sonai  Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth
Email:  Chaitanyaak02@gmail.com .
Phn :-7981750413


Vertical Vegetables & Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques For Growing Up In Small Spaces, Nov 16, 2011 By Rhonda Massingham Hart

Vertical Vegetable Gardening: Discover The Many Benefits Of Growing Your Vegetables And Fruit Up Instead Of Ou (A Living Free Guide) Dec 31, 2012, By Chris Mclaughlin

Organic Home Gardening Made Easy, 2018, By Sujit Chakrabarty.

Anonymous (2007).  State Of World Population:  Unleashing  The  Potential Of  Urban Growth.

Geneva: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Anonymous (2008). Introduction To Green Walls Technology Benefits And Design. Green Roofs

For Healthy Cities: Introduction To Green Walls.   Http://Www.Greenscreen.Com 

Patel,  M.  A.,  Kapadiya,  D.  B.,  Chawla,  S.L.,  Shah,  H.  P.  and  Alka  Singh            (2016).Vertiscaping- edges of tomorrow. Indian Horticulture,61(3):19-22

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