Mountain Crest Gardens Living Wall Guide
Over the years, our nursery has been involved in many interesting projects that take advantage of the diverse characteristics of succulents. One of the most intriguing was the preparation of some green walls for a flower show in San Francisco. The designer wanted some large panels with geometric shapes, and a smaller "picture" to hang with them. When it was completed, we felt this project was highly successful, so we wanted to share our process for creating green walls.
The first challenge was to make the support structure that would keep the plants in place, and allow for their care. We settled on a plywood back, with a wood edge, and then horizontal metal flashing for "shelves" every 12 inches to retain the soil. The shelves were attached to the plywood backing with short screws. Drip tubes were placed along the bottom of each shelf so when the panel was placed upright, the tubes would be along the top of each "layer of soil. With proper emitter spacing, each soil "shelf" can be watered along its entire width.
All of the layers were filled with potting soil. You should use as finely textured potting soil as you can find, since the drainage will be very good due to the effective 12" depth of the soil (the distance between the "shelves".) A layer of forest moss was placed on top of the potting soil and then one inch chicken wire was placed across the whole panel retained by attaching the sides to the plywood edge. You will also need to wire the chicken wire either to the shelves or to the plywood panel wires to keep the "face" from bulging out when the panel is placed upright.
The panels were planted through the chicken wire and moss in the pattern specified by the designer. Succulents offer a good variety of leaf shapes and color which you can use to create a broad range of textures and design. Be sure to consider the final size of the plants when you develop your design.
After planting, panels were grown in a horizontal position until the succulents were well established. When completed, these panels were some of the most stunning items we have ever had here. And they represent just a few of the unlimited possibilities for green wall panels. With a little effort and imagination, you can do something similar for your garden, deck or patio. We are developing a modular system to allow homeowners to put together larger panels adapted to your space. The challenge is to make them light enough to be shipped, but strong enough to last when in place. Stay tuned...
Be sure check out our Green Wall & Roof section to browse our selection of plants ideal for projects like this.