Does Vertical Gardening Use Less Water?

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In the summer of 2022, the United Kingdom had a tremendous drought. Pretty soon, there was a hosepipe ban across the country. People struggled to keep their gardens alive and wasting water became a huge no-no. Fortunately, vertical gardening helped me to keep my garden alive and well.

In general, vertical gardening uses far less water than conventional forms of gardening because water can be captured and recycled throughout the system instead of being lost through evaporation or into the ground soil. This makes vertical gardening a very water-efficient method of growing.

This is doubly true for more advanced types of vertical gardening systems like hydroponics or aeroponics where it’s possible to use up to 98% less water.

But applies equally to more primitive techniques too. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways that a vertical garden can save water (and by extension, money on your water bills).

How does vertical gardening save water?

Unlike conventional ground-based gardens vertical gardening, depending on the technique and system used, can employ a number of water-saving techniques.

Different systems use water differently

The general idea is to capture and then recycle as much water as possible. But different systems and techniques have slightly different approaches.

System TypeHow does it save water?
Vertical Container SystemsGenerally made up of tiered stacks of containers, if done well the system allows water to flow down efficiently from the top to the bottom container. A reservoir may be placed under the bottom container to capture and then recycle excess water that escapes through the soil
Hydroponic SystemsHydroponic systems pump water through enclosed systems (often in the form of a vertical tower) washing the roots of plants in nutrient-rich water before capturing and pumping the water through the system again.
Aeroponic SystemsAeroponics is arguably the most water-efficient system. Like hydroponics, aeroponics takes advantage of enclosed systems and gently mists suspended roots of plants ensuring minimal water is wasted. Excess water is captured in a reservoir before being used to re-mist plants at intervals.

How much water can a vertical garden save?

A vertical garden can use up to 98% less water than a conventional garden, depending on the type of system used. Aeroponic systems, like those from Tower Garden, are among the most efficient at recycling water.

However, even a simple vertical container garden can save a considerable amount of water when paired with a base reservoir to capture any excess run-off.

A simple illustration of a vertical container system paired with a reservoir

Naturally, saving water means saving money on your water bill. It may not seem like a lot, but you can make a small difference by capturing and recycling water with a vertical gardening system.

How does vertical gardening save water?

We’ve established that a vertical garden can save a lot of water. And, as a result, even saves you money each month on your water bill. But how exactly does a vertical garden save water? Let’s explore.

1. Vertical gardens can capture and recycle water

One of the core principles of a sustainable, low-impact vertical garden is to capture and recycle the water it uses so that the need to add ‘new’ water is limited. At its most basic, this is done by placing a container underneath the garden so that any excess water that isn’t captured by the soil and roots isn’t lost.

How water flows through a hydroponic tower system

In more advanced systems, like the one above, these reservoirs are combined with pumps that automatically cycle water through self-contained towers or other apparatus ensuring that nearly 100% of the water used is captured and continually recycled.

2. Less water is evaporated in vertical gardening systems

Self-contained vertical garden systems, like tower systems, are often water-tight. This means that evaporation is limited compared with open-air container systems or conventional ground-based gardening. There is less evaporation in even the most basic container gardens since water is generally applied more precisely.

A home hydroponic tower system

3. There’s less waste as water flows through the system more efficiently

Unlike conventional, ground-based gardens vertical gardens stack plants on top of one another. This means that water, when applied from the top down, flows through the roots of each plant and minimizes the risk of run-off.

4. Water use can be more easily controlled and regulated

Many vertical garden systems come with software-controlled automated pumps which can be set to water plants at optimal times, such as in the early morning before it gets too sunny or hot. This helps to reduce evaporation even further and ensures the maximum amount of water is recycled.

It’s also possible to buy a cheap digital or mechanical plug timer for your hydroponic garden. These timers connect to any pumps or grow lights to better regulate how much your plants get.

The ones I use are the BN-LINK Indoor Mini 24-Hour Mechanical Outlet Timer which is both affordable and dependable.

5. Runoff and water pollution are limited

Because water is mostly captured and recycled through the vertical garden system there is a limited amount of run-off, which can sometimes contain pollutants. It, therefore, reduces the risk of these pollutants making their way into stormwater systems or natural waterways like rivers and lakes.

Why does saving water matter?

Water is one of the planet’s most precious and abundant resources. Yet, just 3% of all water on earth is freshwater that we can use to drink or grow our crops. With climate change threatening to irreversibly warm the planet, water may become less and less abundant.

It’s critical therefore that we do what we can to save water. And, to develop a true appreciation for its value.

To sum up

Vertical gardening is an excellent way to reduce the amount of water needed to grow your plants, vegetables, and flowers. Depending on the system and technique used, it’s possible to use up to 98% less water – which is a big difference.

Saving water in this way is more sustainable and therefore better for the long-term health of our planet’s environment. Furthermore, using less water means you’ll pay less each month in water bills. A win-win!

Check out some of my other articles to learn other ways that vertical gardening is more sustainable than conventional gardening.

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William, an experienced consultant and passionate advocate for technology and sustainability, is the founder of Smarter Home Gardens. William's journey into gardening began with the purchase of his first home, which came with a small backyard garden. Despite initial challenges brought about by limited space, soil, and sunlight, William's determination to create a vibrant garden led him to research and experiment with innovative gardening technologies and sustainable practices. Driven by his lifelong enthusiasm for technology and sustainability, William explored various gardening methods, including vertical gardening, hydroponics, companion gardening, and composting. Through these efforts, he realized that it was possible to combine his passions with his newfound love for gardening. Smarter Home Gardens was born out of William's desire to share his research and experiences with others, helping them create smarter gardens that leverage cutting-edge technology and contribute to a more nature-positive world. The blog offers in-depth articles on innovative gardening technologies and methods, helpful 'how-to' guides, reviews of the latest gardening technology, and research on cost-effective garden maintenance solutions. William's commitment to sustainable and technologically-driven gardening has made him a trusted voice in the field. His enthusiasm for creating gardens that work with the planet, rather than against it, is evident in every post he shares on Smarter Home Gardens. Through the blog, William hopes to engage with a wider audience, encouraging others to join him on this exciting journey towards smarter, more sustainable gardens.

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