Green walls

Posted: Monday 14 July 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

In the past few years there's been a vast increase in the popularity of the green or 'living' wall in various forms.

In the past few years there's been a vast increase in the popularity of the green or 'living' wall in various forms. They range from simple plantable pockets that you hang off a fence, to vast structurally engineered things the size of playing fields that cover the sides of buildings.

The master of the green wall is a French chap called Patrick Blanc, who has perfected a way of making plants grow without soil (they root themselves in a sort of felty fabric). This is perfectly possible provided that they have a constant and uninterrupted supply of water and nutrients (a bit like you or I surviving on a glucose drip - possibly not as much fun as a slap-up dinner in a five-star hotel, but it would keep us alive and thriving). There are some small green walls designed by Blanc at Heathrow (Terminal 4) which are described as “a phonic and thermic isolation system.” Seems a bit highfalutin’ to me.

These things aren't cheap. I go further: they are gosh darned expensive, so aren't really suitable for domestic use. There are other ways to get roughly the same effect. 

Starting at the beginning, it's a given fact that most fences are pretty unattractive things. The other given fact is that most gardeners are always on the look out for somewhere else to grow stuff. It doesn't take long to fill most gardens with plants, so what better way to expand than by going upwards. As I mentioned at the top of this post, many modular systems can be attached to a wall or a fence. All you have to do is fill the pockets with soil and plant away. However, you must be extra conscientious with your watering, as small containers dry out fast. Usually it's sensible to rig up some sort of automatic watering system. Little and often is the secret.

Some plants work better on walls than others: ferns, bergenias, liriope, heucherella, Cornus canadensis and epimediums in shade. Herbs are good on a sunny wall.

The other thing to consider is gravity. Water put in at the top will rapidly sink and settle at the bottom. Put the thirstiest plants at the bottom and the ones that like it drier at the top.

If that all sounds a bit daunting, you could always do it the conventional way and grow climbers.

Vertical is the new horizontal.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Green walls
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Sourabh 16/07/2014 at 21:16

Yes I completely agree with that. Lot of gardeners these days tend to go for lot of greenery in terms of green or 'living' wall and they even experiment with it further putting new designs, new shapes. I think artificial green plants or silk green walls whatever you might call can be a better option too.

fidgetbones 16/07/2014 at 21:45

working up to an advert I think.

nutcutlet 16/07/2014 at 21:46

Sounds like it

pansyface 16/07/2014 at 21:52

You old cynics you!

fidgetbones 16/07/2014 at 21:56

Guilty as charged.

See more comments...