Living Wall: Create a Vertical Garden

A black wall covered with hanging wood boxes of ferns.

Living walls are trendy among both landscapers and interior designers. Also called vertical gardens, living walls are an attractive, modern way to add greenery to almost any available wall whether it is inside or outside. These walls enhance the beauty of the property, offer the avid gardener more space for growing, and help clean the air.

Indoor Living Walls

Indoor living walls can go on almost any wall in the house, as long as that wall receives enough light for the plants you select to put in the garden.

For the outside of the planters, you can choose wood or anything else you like the looks of on the wall. Some people build shelves into the wall, and others simply hang planters along the wall. Another option is to have a builder inset the walls with room for planting. Allow enough room for the fully developed root systems of the plants when full grown, as well as head room for each to grow to full height.

Plastic is ideal for lining the planters, as it keeps the water from dripping onto the walls and floors. However, when you plant the plants, be sure there is room between the root system and the bottom of the container for the water to run off because most plants won’t tolerate their roots sitting in water.

Fill the planters with potting soil, unless you’re using plants that require a special growing medium such as cacti or orchids. Now just keep them watered and fertilized according to their needs.

Outdoor Living Walls

The side of the house, the front of a barn, or the back of an old shed are easily transformed into gorgeous living walls with the right planters and some plants. Planters for living walls are available at most home improvement centers, or you can build your own with wood, plastic, or any material that you find attractive and is suitable for planting.

Select a material that allows the root systems to drain, such as heavy-duty felt. Since it’s going to be difficult to change out the potting medium once planted, select a high grade soil with a good balance of nutrients. Be sure that the wall you choose offers the right amount of sunlight for the plants you want to use.

An alternative for outdoor living walls is ivy and other vine plants, such as morning glory. Add some latticework to the wall, and plant the plants at the base. They will naturally grow and cling to the latticework, covering the wall as they mature.

Plants to Use in Living Walls

The best plants for living walls are those that don’t require lots of care. If the budget allows, install an irrigation system designed for vertical gardens (available at most hardware and home improvement stores). Alternatively, you can water outdoor living walls with a garden hose and indoor ones with a footstool and watering can.

Succulents and cacti are ideal for living walls since they can survive for long periods without watering. Orchids work well in indoor living walls, since they only need a small amount of water per week, but be sure your design accommodates the height of orchid plants.

Tropical ferns thrive in living walls, and come in a variety of colors and textu

Tropical ferns thrive in living walls, and come in a variety of colors and textures. Whatever you do, choose plants that all have similar care needs, as it will be difficult or near impossible to vary the watering and fertilizing for the plants once situated on the wall.

Benefits of Living Walls

In addition to the beauty and style living walls offer, they improve the air quality. This is ideal for city dwellers. Living walls can also reduce your heating and cooling costs, as these provide insulation value if installed along an exterior wall.

If you prefer not to DIY your living wall, a landscaper can help. For help designing the interior living walls, also consult with an interior designer who can help you select the proper look so that your wall becomes a natural extension of the rest of your home.