Vertical, green, or living walls are becoming more popular as people begin to realize the benefits of incorporating plants in their built environment.
Environmental branding is the new corporate speak for such things as well as other environmentally responsible initiatives such as using renewable energy and cutting down on their carbon footprint.
It’s not just good P.R. These corporations know that incorporating a living wall inside or outside their offices has significant advantages which include lowering employee stress levels, cleaning the air, creating a soothing visual aesthetic and helping to control sound.
Vertical walls are just as effective in an everyday home.
Yes, they do take a bit more planning and money than a few containers, but the visual, physical, mental and emotional impact is huge! They’re extremely impressive, and aside from cleaning your indoor air, they make a great talking point with visitors! They also take up very little room so they’re ideal for spaces where you don’t have much room. They’re also great for masking ‘not so attractive’ areas indoors and outside.
Here are a few of the basics you’ll need to build your own green living wall:
- wood for a frame. Free pallets can be dismantled and used quite easily
- a base barrier layer of very thin hardboard or corrugated plastic, flat abs or other lightweight material that will form the backing against your ‘real’ wall.
- plastic sheeting, felt, hessian or even small hole chicken wire to form an anchor for the growing medium and the plants
- landscape fabric
- staple gun and staples
- growing medium, usually a potting mix or a coconut coir such as you’d use in hanging baskets
- plants such as succulents, ferns, bromeliads, coral bells, spider plants, hens and chicks etc. Ask your local garden center for their recommendations for your specific living wall location.
How to assemble your living wall:
- create the frame to the desired size using the pallet wood. Alternatively, if your frame is not going to be too big and heavy, use the entire side of a pallet
- line the frame with the plastic, fabric or whatever material you choose for the backing – this material should also be lined on the inside with the landscape fabric
- staple these 2 layers securely to the inside of the frame
- fill the frame half full with the coir / potting mix
- secure another layer of landscape fabric, hessian or even chicken wire over the planting medium
- before planting, lift the wall so its standing vertically to check for leaks in the backing. You’ll want to make sure there are no leaks, especially if it’s going to be on an inside wall
- you may also want to consider adding a plastic gutter along the bottom to catch water that leaks out when watering unless you plan on laying the wall on the ground outside each time you water it.
- create small slits in the over layer where you’ll insert your plants
- insert the plants, making sure to loosen the roots so they’re not all clumped together
- water the plants well
- leave your living wall lying flat on the ground for at least a few days to allow the plants to take root and stabilize
- once your living wall is mounted vertically be sure to water and fertilize as required by the plants
A word of caution before you begin:
- make sure that the location in which the living wall will hang gets enough light all year
- have someone on hand to help you mount the wall
- be sure to test the frame before planting
Want something a little less complex? Here are a few ideas: