How to Build a Living Wall - National Gardening Week 2015

As part of National Gardening Week 2015, we have been sharing some ideas on how to transform your outdoor spaces. This time we are going to let you in on how to build a green wall, otherwise known as a vertical greening or a living wall.

What is a Living Wall?

The most simple green or living wall designs consist of just wall shrubs and climbers. They might not look that grand but plants such as ceanothus or pyracantha that make up claddings, are able to provide many of the same benefits that more complex systems offer.

More complex systems include engineered, planting systems that consist of modules fixed against a wall. These modules contain soil or material for the plants to grown in, and are often in need of irrigation systems, professional installation and maintenance.

Why build a Green Wall?

Green or living walls offer a lot of benefits to your garden or outside space. During heavy rain, they help deflect water away from the walls as well as provide the building with an extra layer of insulation. On the other hand, they actually help to keep homes cool in the summer because their green surfaces do not store up the sun’s energy during the day and release it at night in the same way that brick and concrete walls do.

Living walls help improve urban air quality, reduce noise pollution and provide habitats for insects. However one of the main reasons living walls are so popular is because they look great!

Building your Green Wall

There are a few options available to you when choosing how to build your living wall. You can install them indoors or outdoors and design them to suit the size of the wall and your budget.

First you need to find the space to add your green wall. Then build a strong wood or plastic solid frame to be hung on to the wall. Attach a plastic sheet to the frame to prevent water from leaking.

Next, attach a layer of water retaining fabric such as felt to the frame. This sheet needs to let roots grow through as it will be the foundation for your plants to live and grow from. You could also experiment with adding wire netting to create extra structure.

An irrigation system needs to be set up in order for the water to reach all parts of the wall. A good way of doing this is to attach a tube across the top of your wall to let the water drip down through the structure. Another important step at this point is to introduce a fertilising system.

The final step is to select and insert the plants you want to feature in your living wall. If you are displaying yours indoors, you will want to consider the aesthetics of the room.

Popular choices of plants for green walls are herbaceous perennials, herbs, fruits and grasses. Just experiment and see what works!

Related articles:

National Gardening Week 2015

Build a Green Roof - National Gardening Week 2015

How to Build a Compost Cafe - National Gardening Week 2015


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