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How To Build A Living Wall

Updated on February 19, 2012

Living Walls Getting Started With Planning

Living walls are an exciting concept in urban gardening. The concept you could say is as old as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, yet as fresh and modern as current urban life.

For those of you looking to add a touch of "green" to your city-dwelling lives, don't worry - they can be very easy to build! However, it is important to know some basic concepts first when trying to learn how to build a living wall. There are six steps or components to building a living wall that can each be implemented in a variety of ways.

A Simple Vision Of Vertical Gardening - With Pat Blanc

Your Living Wall Structure

Getting the living up on the wall...

The first component is the basic structure, which will support your living wall. The structure needs to be sturdy enough to support not only your plants, but your entire living wall system. When choosing this, you will need to keep in mind the second component, which is your preferred method of containing soil and plants. Next, you may need material to protect your structure from water damage.

You may also need a base that adds stability to the structure while catching excess water. Fifth, you'll need a watering system. And finally, you'll need plants that are suited for living walls in your particular region or area. If decide to purchase a living wall kit, then the first five of these components will be planned out for you.

There are several approaches to finding the right structure and soil containers. One of the simplest setups to implement is a set of narrow shelves with pots or bags of plants, nestled closely together. Another setup worth investigating is using a modular set of cubes, filled with moss or bags of soil.

You can find living wall kits like these from a variety of vendors that include your entire setup and are bought assembly ready. Since the concept of learning how to build a living wall is still relatively new, you will find the best variety of kits available online. Of course, if you are handy with a hammer, you can construct your own set of simple cubes and arrange them as you wish. If you choose to go that route, make sure you spend the time to research and plan out all of the other components of your chosen setup.

A Few Popular Living Wall Essentials

A Living Wall Vartical Garden Creation

Building a Living Wall On A Budget?

Building a Vertical Garden

There is yet another approach to building a living wall, which consists of a tall set of connected narrow bins or bags in which soil and plants are tucked. If the bins are made of plastic or metal, then they can be both the structure and the container.

If the set of bags are made of plastic or felt, they need to be hung on a sturdy structure of metal piping, fencing, or wood. In either case, the structure can be as simple as an existing wooden wall or fence, protected with a sheet of plastic for waterproofing.

Alternatively, it can be an inverted v-shaped frame, over which the bags are hung. While kits are available for these types of setups as well, you could try an extremely simple home made option consisting of two sturdy over-the-door shoe organizers. When hung back-to-back on a set of strong poles, you should be able to support the weight of the plants, soil, and water used in your living wall.

If neither of these options sound appealing, you can purchase a mat media in which certain plants will root. This mat can be hung on the same type of wood or metal structures described above

Indoor Living Walls - Looking Fantastic

Planned New Living Wall... Now What?

After planning the basic approach, you will need to plan your watering system. If you are purchasing a kit, then the watering system will be included. However, if you choose the go the do-it-yourself way with building your living wall, you'll need to consider non-traditional watering methods, such as tubed irrigation or hydroponics.

To implement this method, invest in tubing made of metal or plastic. Arrange the irrigation hose as you would for a horizontal garden, taking care that each individual plant receives water. If your living wall is going to be for indoor use or patio use, you'll need to remember to add a low, long, shallow box for a base to catch water and add stability to your structure.

What Plants Work Best For A Living Wall?

Mixing and matching your wall

We've now covered how to build your living wall structure, different methods of containing soil and plants, water proofing and protecting your page, and planning out your watering system. You are now ready to select your plants! Note, that a living wall is generally planted for the sake of beauty and aesthetics.

Its twin, the vertical garden, is usually planted to grow food. In selecting your living wall plants, you will want to choose relatively lightweight plants, with shallow root systems that are generally hardy and easy to grow. Because this list can vary considerably depending on your climate and whether you want an indoor or outdoor living wall, it is difficult to list the plants that are ideal for all. Succulents, sedum, and ivies are often good choices for most areas.

Your local garden shop should be happy to provide information tailored for your area. If you living in an area where garden shops are at a minimum, you'll find that many online shops can provide you with region specific ideas as to which plants to choose.

Now you know how to build a living wall. No matter which structure you choose to implement, your new garden will reward you many times over with its lush beauty contained in a very small footprint.

Gardens That Grow From Walls Indoors & Out

Indoor evertical Garden
Indoor evertical Garden

Guestbook Comments

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Inverted roof insulation system there is one key parameter altered normal roof sealing and insulation material increase over the sealing material, which gives highly effective waterproofing flat roofs

      Bitumen sheets

    • Ganool LM profile image

      Ganool LM 

      5 years ago

      Hello there. Im newbie here. Just want to say "hi" by the way :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A great lens with some fantastic photos. Green walls are a fantastic way to brighten up an ugly wall, make a design statement or to grow your fruit and vegetables, particularly in areas where space is limited. Very informative. Thanks.


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