How to create a living plant wall in your own garden
A plant wall is a modern, space-saving and undeniably aesthetic choice for almost any type of garden. Whether you've got sprawling lawns, a small terrace or a high-rise balcony to work with, all you need is a suitable wall.
If you're wondering how to create a living plant wall in your outdoor area, there are some key things to consider first. For instance, which plants work best for vertical growing, the types of pots and structures to look for and, of course, how to care for your living plant wall once you've got it together.
Gardening expert and presenter Micheal Perry, aka Mr Plant Geek, says the benefits of a plant wall include being able to, "plant in a smaller space and keep plants safely away from pets."
Head Gardener at Raby Castle, Tim Marshall, agrees. He adds that a plant wall "enables individuals to be creative and have a garden scape for flowers, fruit, vegetables or greenery," and says that it can even be more productive than a traditional, horizontal outdoor place.
There are also environmental benefits to a living wall, including reducing noise, acting as a layer of thermal insulation, removing air pollutants and improving biodiversity, Tim says.
So, what is a plant wall?
A plant wall is a vertical collection of plants, flowers or other foliage which grows on or against a wall. While artificial plant walls are available, a living plant wall will be a collection of live plants which flourish either as part of custom-made panels or in containers structured up the wall.
Thanks to their vertical nature, plant walls are brilliant space-savers as they keep the floor clear and can inject nature and colour into even the smallest terrace or balcony.
How to create a living plant wall
"Plant walls can be constructed on most walls," says Tim Marshall, as long as it is waterproofed and is strong enough to hold the weight of the whole structure, he adds.
You can create your own living wall with customisable pots, structures and fixtures, or buy ready-made panels and kits.
One of the main things you will need to consider is how you will water your living wall. This may mean installing a basic water supply such as a circulatory system, although some custom living wall sets will include this.
Plant wall kits and panels
One way to create a plant wall is with a ready-made kit. These kits usually consist of panels which can be fitted together to cover whatever size is needed.
"Plant Geek" Micheal Perry says he prefers pre-made structures and recommends trying PlantBox kits.
If you're looking to create a solid, full living wall of greenery then these are your best option for eliminating any gaps. As they are grown in relatively flat panels, this type of plant wall is likely best for those with very limited space.
In terms of pre-made structures, you could also try, "modular cell pocket walls with integrated irrigation," says Tim, which "do well but they do take time to establish.
"Another type which is commonly used is living wall troughs – these again come with irrigation and are very easy to assemble. They can be planted up with decent sized plants so can look fairly well established from the start."
Plant wall pots and containers
Of course, you can also create a plant wall yourself by opting for vertical structures or combining various wall-mounted pots and containers. This option allows more customisation in terms of variety of plants as well as layers and levels.
"[Pre-made] living walls are a great innovation but they can be quite expensive to install and maintain," says Raby Castle's Head Gardener, Tim Marshall. "If you try to cut costs and build your own, make sure it is built on a substantial structure which will hold the weight."
Mr Plank Geek's Micheal Perry adds that the benefit of DIY structures is that "you can change it up more regularly."
Best living wall plants
When choosing the type of plants you want, Tim stresses that, "most types of plants can be grown within living walls, but generally it is those that do not get too big and are easy to grow," which are the best options.
A few of his recommended favourites include, "Euonymus, Festuca, Hakonechloa, Heuchera, Orgianum, Sedum and Stachys."
For Micheal, ferns and foliage plants are his go-to, as "they are evergreen and add fifty shades of green to any decor. However, if you're worried you won't water enough, opt for succulents instead."
How to care for a plant wall
Once you've got your living wall together, you'll need to keep it growing and thriving to get the best out of it.
The difference with caring for a plant wall compared to a regular potted plant or garden is that, "Plant walls are generally more intensive than horizontal gardens, needing regular cutting back, removal of old leaves and the application of liquid fertiliser," says Tim Marshall.
He adds that, "In windy and sunny weather, plant walls can dry out and wilt very rapidly, so they need regular checks of the automated irrigation systems during these periods."
If you're looking for more advice on creating the perfect garden in smaller spaces, take a look at our guide to growing in window boxes as well as how to create a herb garden. Serious gardening fans can also check out our guides to everything you need to know about Chelsea Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.
Michael Perry, AKA Mr Plant Geek has been working with Taskrabbit – a two-way network which connects skilled, reliable Taskers with those needing help with household and gardening jobs.
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