Vertical gardening in a northern city; speculations for Winnipeg
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This practicum is a reference for vertical gardeners in cold climates. Winnipeg, Manitoba is explored, however findings may be applied to other cities in similar climates. First, the history of vertical gardening is discussed, then the types of vertical gardens currently on the market are described. These can be classified into two categories: soil bearing or non-soil bearing. Most designs are modular pre-planted systems that can be attached to any wall, as long as it satisfies the structural requirements recommended by the manufacturer. The benefits of vertical gardening have been shown to be rather extensive, covering a wide range of areas. Aesthetic improvement, reduction of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, improvement of air quality, stormwater absorption, noise reduction, native habitat integration, reduction of heating and cooling costs for buildings, food production, marketing, and biophilia are all benefits explored in detail. Difficulties associated with vertical gardening are discussed, specifically the lack of knowledge and awareness of vertical gardens, lack of empirical evidence (or missing details in existing research), overall cost and lack of financial incentives, lack of industry codes, and various associated risks. Design framework exists within microclimate conditions unique to vertical gardens, as well as neighbourhood and regional (micro)climates. Theories relating to the study of green walls covered include the human ecosystem model, urban reconciliation ecology, habitat templating, the urban cliff hypothesis, and wall ecology. Suitable habitat templates identified for vertical gardens in Winnipeg are cliffs, sand dunes, alvars, mixed grass prairie and prairie potholes. Design parameters to be followed for vertical garden design in Winnipeg are to ensure that lightweight materials are used, to provide insulation to protect plants from sudden temperature changes, to choose plants that grow in the region and are adapted to grow in areas with limited soil, increased wind, varying degrees of sunlight (depending on orientation), and increased pollution and salt spray depending on location.
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