Green Living Walls Not Just For Corporations

living wall

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:

Garden Tips for End of February

zucchini-soup

It has been an exceptionally cold and snowy winter, but Spring is coming and it’s time to start preparing the garden.

garden tips

Although things are somewhat warmer now, the ground can still be pretty cold and hard.  Here are a few late Winter / early Spring garden tips to help it warm up:

 

  • Warm the soil by covering your beds with black plastic.  This will help capture warmth from the sun transmitting it into the ground underneath.  An added bonus is that it will help suppress weed growth.
  • Prepare raised beds or furrows to encourage the soil to drain away the abundant water that has accumulated during the winter. Raising areas you wish to plant also allows the sun greater access and allows the raised area to warm quicker than the surrounding areas.
  • Consider creating a cloche to create a warmer micro-climate that will allow you to plant earlier and reap later.  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘cloche’, you’ve nonetheless probably seen them around.  They’re simply a low profile plastic tunnel  formed by making a frame raised above the bed high enough to allow your plants to grow, then covering this frame with clear plastic.
  • If your beds are near or under trees or shrubs, prune them to allow more sunlight to fall on the bed.

Here are a few of the seeds you can plant outdoors at this time of year:

  • Peas
  • Fava Beans
  • Garlic
  • Cool weather salad greens
  • Spinach
  • Leafy Asian Greens
  • Radishes
  • Onions

You can also plant perennials such as:

  • bare root fruit trees and bushes

  • Cane fruits
  • Rhubarb crowns
  • Asparagus crowns
  • Horse Radish roots

Now is also the time to prune your fruit trees and spray them with dormant oil.

If you haven’t yet started seeds indoors that can’t be planted outdoors just yet, it’s a great time to get them going.  There are quite a few vegetables you can start indoors now for later transplanting.  These would include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kholrabi
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes

It’s also time to clean up any winter debri and dead leaves.  Be sure to check that your shrubs and beds are still nicely covered with mulch.  If not, you’ll want to get that done as well.  Mulch helps protect roots in winter from the cold and in summer from excessive moisture loss.  It helps remediate your soil as well.  If tends to be clay like and retain too much water, it will help improve drainage.  If it is sandy and drains too quickly, mulch will help retain water.  It’s an amazing addition to your garden with multiple benefit.

Come in now to find out what seeds, seedlings and plants we have coming in so that you can plan for a spectacular Spring and Summer garden.  Novices welcome!  We have friendly professional horticulturalists who will be glad to help you with advice and practical know how!

Indoor Gardening: Easy And Healthy!

indoor gardening

Indoor gardening is the perfect antidote for stress!

Life can be stressful and not just mentally and emotionally. We’re constantly being bombarded by pollutants in the air at work and at home.

Is there anything you can do to counteract this? After all, the air we breathe is essential for life and it’s all around us. According to the research, one of the best things you can do for your health is to bring the outdoors inside.

indoor gardening

We’re big advocates for indoor gardening because it’s one of the fastest, easiest and simplest ways to way to overcome the issues created by polluted air.

Not only that, but indoor gardening is fun!  Indoor gardening is good therapy.  It relaxes you, lowers your stress levels while increasing your ability to focus and be productive.  Indoor plants clean the air, add visual beauty and help absorb ambient noise creating an environment that’s tranquil, calm and inspiring.

In our B.C. climate, indoor gardening is the answer to the Winter Blues and helps those of us who are itching to get out into our gardens to stave off the frustration of waiting for winter to turn into spring.

Even if you have a very small indoor space, you can still take advantage of this cost-effective form of ‘therapy’ both at home and even in your workplace. This information from Lindsay Holmes and Alissa Scheller explains a little more about the process of how to choose plants that will thrive in your specific indoor situation, whether it’s low or bright light, as well as the size of the space and the visual impact you want to create.

Want to grow your own fresh air? 

Kamal Meattle, Delhi based researcher and popular TED presenter, did an indepth study of the effect of plants on indoor air quality, and you’ll be amazed by what he discovered. Not only can you improve indoor air quality, but you can also ‘create’ your own fresh air by using the correct plants in the right ratios.
For instance, Meattle says that if you put Areca Palm, Mother-in-Law’s-Tongue and the Money Plant in an indoor space, they will create fresh air all day and all night.
These plants are so effective, that they will produce fresh air even if they are placed in an airtight dome that has had all the oxygen removed.
Meattle also discovered that certain plants, one being the Money Plant,  also cleans very harmful  toxins like formaldehyde out of an enclosed indoor spaces.  It is literally a cleaning or purifying tool that provides you with clean, fresh air.

One of the side benefits is that these plants can be used to create ‘green areas’ and visual screens in your home or office.  Another added advantage is that they’re fairly easy to grow, so you don’t need ‘green thumbs’. 

In our next article, we’ll tell you about some NASA research on indoor plants that’s just as fascinating!  In the meantime, enjoy this video by Kamal Meattle where he explains his research.