How to create a living wall

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May

Takes just:

an afternoon

Living walls are ideal features for small gardens, as they bring life to otherwise unused space. They can be planted with annuals, perennials, herbs or vegetables, providing a welcome splash of colour. Simple kits are now readily available, so that everyone can plant up another dimension in their garden.

Living wall systems are sold in kit form, to be scaled up or down to suit your space and budget – even one panel makes an impact. They're easy to put together and can be planted up in a weekend, then attached to a sturdy fence or wall. You can buy tanks to go with the systems; some can be supplied with a top box for filling with a watering can if you can't use the mains.

The best living wall plants should be relatively compact – less than 50cm, or able to take regular pruning. Group them in vertical or angled drifts, not horizontally, as this will prevent the higher plants shading out those below. If you interlink these drifts you can create a lovely tapestry-like effect. Alternatively, try grouping the plants in bold squares or rectangles for a modern look. Introduce the plants at a small size (ideally as plug plants) as this will make it easier for them to get established.

You will need

For the wall:

Living wall panels or modules to fit your space

Wood screws (self-tapping)

Drip irrigation system. Install according the manufacturer's instructions. Connect it to a mains water supply using a 13mm pipe (the same width as the hose pipe) fitted with a 13mm-4mm reducer

Water tank

Cable ties

For planting:

Hanging basket or container compost

Plug plants


Watering can with a fine rose


Assemble the tray, placing it in the metal frame, and fix the 4mm irrigation tube in place, clicking it into position so the drippers are in the correct location.

Fill the tray with moisture-retentive hanging basket compost, which contains slow-release fertiliser. Firm down, then attach the top panel using cable ties. Water using a can with a rose to settle the compost.

Plant a plug into each module, using a teaspoon to make a hole in the compost. Use a single variety in each tray or plant drifts of varieties in angled 'ribbons' across panels for a more natural effect.

Thoroughly water in the plants using a watering can with a rose. This is the last chance you'll have to water the plants before they're fitted in the vertical position and you switch to the irrigation system.

Attach the brackets supplied with the kit, that will support each tray, to your fence or wall using wood screws or rawl plugs. Then hang your tray from the brackets. Add more trays to fill the vertical space.

Connect the in-built irrigation system from one tray to the next, then attach to the mains water supply.


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