Living wall installation

Back in May, I posted about my friend Marguerite and the business she and her partner run. (See Motherplants: Where green roofs are born.) About a month ago, I swung by a site in Ithaca where she was working with a group of volunteers to prep planting units for a living wall.

living wall long shot

Marguerite instructed the young and old alike who turned out on a hot day to transplant sedums and other living roof plants from flats into plastic wall hanging units.

living wall long shot

living wall instructionsliving wall planting

Originally, the plan was to install the planting on the roof. But the required retrofitting to beef it up enough to hold the extra weight proved too expensive. So Plan B was to locate the planting where runoff from the roof will run over the plants.

living wall plantingliving wall test

The planted units were laid flat to root thoroughly and then hung a few weeks later. (See finished wall below.)

While I like the idea of green/living roofs, I don’t see too many homeowners diving in. I like the idea of trying it out on a small scale, like these doghouses I shot at Marguerite’s place or this garden shed, birdhouse and other applications blogged by Melissa over at her Gardenshed Hall of Fame website.

living wall finished

For more info about green/living roots, visit the Motherplants website.

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12 thoughts on “Living wall installation”

  1. I’ve seen other examples of green walls and cannot imagine how they actually function – or if they function for very long, or without all kinds of supplemental tending. The website you mentioned talks about roofs, not walls. Any thoughts?

  2. I like the idea of a living roof. The retrofit for existing structures is hard. I’d like to see more new structures going up.

    I don’t really get the wall thing… other than as plant art… which is cool.

  3. I love the idea of green roofs myself, and would like to put one on the little (1.5ft by about 10 ft) roof area that covers the part of the dining room that juts out. As Hank noted, the retrofit for existing structures is hard… and frankly this is something that I and many other people might try to DYI but there’s really no directions, networking, products to buy at your local hardware store, etc., for that.

    I like the wall, but I wish they would have used a few other colors in there. Like blue sedum cauticola or red hens ‘n chicks. (That’s just me, though, I’m sure–I’m in a color phase over here.)

  4. That’s a really neat idea, and even if it serves no other function than beauty, that’s good enough for me. Think I’ll conquer my “living wreath” project first, though! :)

  5. the most famous living walls, by Patrick Blanc, look amazing, but because they are hydroponic, they don’t overwinter well at all. This one is soil-based, and uses hardy species, so the plants just go dormant for the winter like anything in a planter box. Since the sedums spread, they don’t need much tending- if one dies, another will take its place.
    In terms of function, a green roof cools a building, extends roof membrane longevity, and catches stormwater, among other things. In the case of this wall, it too is cooling the building by shading the sunny western face, and catching runoff from the roof.
    Retrofitting for a green roof can be hard, but most buildings can take the lightest roofs, which are 8lbs psf, without much retrofit. This building was an old warehouse with no loading capacity on the roof at all, and with an ugly parking lot to boot. The parking lot is soon to turn into a green building center, so it was handy to use the living wall to green up an otherwise unattractive neighboring building.

  6. Marguerite: This wall is just what I need to block out one small view from my back yard. I think I understand how you did this, but could you describe the “plastic wall hanging units” a little more precisely? How do they differ from the flats? And did you paint the wooden frame? Great idea!

  7. Pam J.: Answering for Marguerite, who I suspect doesn’t visit here often unless I let her know. Those units are different from flats in that the cells are angled so that when they are hung they tip back toward the wall, helping to hold the soil and plants inside. They are also built to last, i.e. they are much heavier than your typical disposable flat. MotherPlants buys them in quantity for living wall installations, and I’m sure that if you email Marguerite, she can tell you the supplier. As far as I know, they didn’t plant the framing as it is hidden by the planting units.

  8. I like this type of living wall system. Just the fact that it can withstand the winter more easily because of the dirt makes it a huge plus. I’m sure that wall looks great now as it must be filled in since it was planted in 2007

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