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How you can make a living wall

4th January 2023

Something that is a relatively new and growing trend is living walls, or green walls as they are also known. These vertical gardens are the perfect option for homes which have a compact garden, and they are not only eye-catching, but they are practical too.

Living walls are a canvas so you can put your own stamp on them and be as creative as you like, making them an attractive feature to any space. It doesn’t matter what age you are, this new feature in a home is popular amongst a variety of generations.

If you are wondering how to make a living wall and want to do it yourself, then the good news is that you can easily create one which is perfect for your home. Read on to find out some tips about how to make a living wall and some of the benefits of having one in your home.

Tips about how to make a living wall

  • Do your research
  • Decide the type of living wall you want
  • Choose the plants
  • Choose an irrigation system
  • Decide about lighting
  • Care for your plants

Do your research and plan your living wall

Before you dive straight into building a green wall, like any project you are doing around your home you need to make sure you do your research and make a plan.

One of the first things you need to consider is where the green wall will go and how big you want it to be. If you suffer from mobility issues you can use aids such as a walk in shower, and you could consider asking a friend or family member to help you build the living wall.

Arbour Landscape Solutions, who are a trade landscape supply company, has shared some tips for people who are looking at getting a green wall installed in their garden:

  • Protect the structure against dampness and root invasion.
  • Buildings must not be compromised by the weight of your living wall system.
  • For walls over 2m tall, consider the potential influence of the wind. If in doubt, talk to an expert.
  • Ensure that your project will not cause conflict with neighbours – particularly if party walls or boundary walls are involved.
  • Consider the exposure – try to site your wall so that it is sheltered from drying winds, hot sun, frost and extreme shade.
  • Careful plant choices are key.
  • A built-in irrigation system is essential, preferably one that will recirculate water to reduce waste (although this isn't essential).

ALSO READ: Tips for making a wildlife-friendly garden

Decide upon the type of living wall you want

One of the first things you should also consider is the type of living wall you want as there are different systems and looks that you can opt for.

Of course, you should pick a living wall that is aesthetically pleasing to you, but there might be certain wall systems which work better for your home and if you are ever unsure then you should ask an expert at your local gardening centre or a specialist such as Living Walls UK.

Some of the different types of living walls are:

  • Panel/modular green wall systems: with this type of green wall, plants are usually pre-grown into panels that can be used in virtually any sort of climate. Panel and modular green walls like this are simple to set up and plants can be installed fully grown for an instantaneous green effect.
  • Tray living wall systems: plants in tray systems are grown off-site and inserted into the wall in smaller trays. This provides a greater level of design flexibility and if you get bored with your current arrangement, it is easy to move plants around.
  • Freestanding green wall systems: they are smaller types of living walls and are perfect for someone who doesn’t want to commit to a long-term wall.
  • Loose media systems: these types of living walls have their soil packed into a bag and are then hung onto a shelf or wall. These are popular amongst people who want to do a bit of DIY.

There are lots of living wall kits available to buy and these can easily be put up by yourself if you would like a bit of a project. The kits will have instructions included with them, but you should ensure you do your research as some may be more suitable for your garden than others.

There are also indoor living walls that you can install inside your home so this is something else that you could consider.

Choose the plants you want on your living wall

If you are opting for an indoor living wall, then contemplate choosing plants that are better suited to being indoors and pick varieties that grow well in drier conditions. When purchasing indoor plants for your living wall you need to consider the light levels, the temperature, and whether you have air conditioning.

The same can be said for outdoor living walls in your garden as picking plants that are suitable to the light levels that your garden gets is something to think about, and another consideration is whether you put in evergreen plants as they will stay green all year round.

For your outdoor plants, something else to think about are plants which are resistant to pests and diseases, ones which don’t grow too quickly or else you will have to do a lot of pruning and choose varieties that are hardy and that can deal with different weather conditions.

Mel, the writer behind the Little Terraced House blog, talks about the plants she has on her living wall: “My wall contains a mix of heucheras, ferns, ivy and a selection of alpines.

“You’ll need to play around with where to place the plants – heucheras, ferns and ivy like a shadier spot, so mine are in the gaps that are shaded by other plants. The top row is a mix of trailing hardy sedums. The sunnier gaps are filled with flowers such as violas and pinks. My living wall isn’t in direct sun all day but it does get rather blasted at the end of the afternoon. The left-hand side is shadier though, so this is where I have put the ferns and ivies.”

ALSO READ: Simple gardening tips for those with limited mobility

Choose an irrigation system for your living wall

When considering an irrigation system, there are generally two types of water systems that are possible:

  • Hydroponics: this water system is an automatic drip where there are multiple nozzle heads that water each plant. Some models can be controlled by a timer, releasing a set amount of water into each plant every day.
  • Tank systems: these systems require you to refill them manually because they don’t tap into the building’s water source, and they require more significant maintenance and upkeep than a hydroponic system.

Decide whether you want lighting

Something that can be overlooked is lighting. If you have bought a living wall, then you should want to enjoy it in the dark as well as when it is daylight.

By adding lighting, it can add an extra dimension to your garden or the section of the house where your living wall is located.

ALSO READ: An in-depth guide to garden birds

Caring for your plants

Your plants will eventually get pot-bound, which is when the roots become tangled up because they can’t spread any further. Once this happens you need to take the plant out of the pot and chop the bottom roots off and place it into the pot with a third of the compost in the bottom. Using fresh compost will help the roots to grow again.

Feed the plants throughout the growing season as they will use up nutrients quickly and water them regularly.

What are the benefits of living walls?

Living walls have a variety of benefits to your well-being and the environment to name just a few and here are just some of the positives that people can enjoy.

  • They brighten up your home or garden
  • Living walls can provide extra insulation
  • Promote biodiversity
  • Reduce noise levels
  • Offer a buffer for rainwater
  • Can add value to your property
  • Improve your wellbeing

ALSO READ: How to make an accessible garden pond

These are just some tips for people who are thinking about building a living wall in their home, explaining how they can make one, as well as looking at some of the benefits living walls can provide.

For more tips, guides and advice, make sure to visit our news page.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.