Melanie's Blog

The "living wall" is up!!!

   living wall and sofa.jpg  

  So this is the result of our newest project; a "Living Wall" that is a feast for pollinators! I picked hearty sedums such as "Blue Spruce" &"Angelic", as well as "Primula" and "Creeping Jenny" for the drapey effect. I am so happy with the result. It looks like a tapestry!

Here are a few of the benefits of Living Walls in the outdoor application.

  • They reduce Urban Heat Island effect, and improve air quality..
  • They help in preventing excessive stormwater run-off.
  • They create opportunity for bio-diversity.
  • When installed on the exterior of a building, they conserve energy year-round by insulation the building envelope.
  • Living walls are sustainable due to their design.
  • They have great intangible benefits such as heath, fresh food and education.
  • They are beautiful and take up very little space!

 Thumbnail image for lw closeup.jpg

I know a lot of other bloggers are speaking of soil & mulch, but I'd like to make a few of my own comments.

I find organic gardening to be quite simple. I use lots of good soil and add bone meal at planting. When making a new garden bed, I find that if I put 3-4 inches of soil over the existing grass or weeds, there is no need to dig it out as the soil + mulch just smothers what is beneath; as it decomposes it feeds my plants. 

I water well before I mulch. With mulch, I find the perennial/tree/shrub beds rarely need water as the mulch protects the soil surface therefore retaining moisture. Weeding is cut down by 90% as the weed seeds that blow in cannot get enough light to germinate. As well, the bottom layer of mulch is constantly decomposing to create food for the plants. With a healthy cycle such as this, I do not worry about pest and disease as the plants are healthy and can easily withstand such plights. Of course you have to have the right plants in the right spots as well!!! Veg gardens are a different story, and you do need to water a bit more and take more effort in protecting your crop, but I am so happy to see others mulching their veg gardens. I have always done this and had great success even though it is not a common practice.

Video to come soon!

Comments (9)

Hi Laura,

To have one of this size, with this plant material intalled by a professional, it would cost you approximatly $3500.00 including irrigation. But...if you go to the ELT website you can buy the panels youself and plant them. In this application we used 12 panels.
Best of luck!

Melanie replied to laura | August 26, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Hi Melanie - would you mind giving us a ballpark on how much your living wall cost to purchase and plant up?

laura | August 20, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Hi again Shannon,
We use a wall system made by "Elevated Living Technologies" (ELT). We like their product; check out their website
You can order the panels through them, but they do have contractors to assist you if you don't feel confident. Even if you have a contractor house and install your wall, the planting part is quite simple. I'm sure the website will tell you much more! Best of luck with your project...let me know!

Melanie replied to Shannon | June 25, 2009 at 8:33 PM

Hi Melanie,
Thanks for replying to all my curious questions. I will make a committment to put one up, but I feel like I still need some more info to start. Where would be a good place to research what is needed? Can I build this type of wall on my own? If so, what would be a good way to go about it?

Shannon replied to Melanie | June 24, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I fogot to mention, I can't wait till the sedum starts flowering!!! And thanks so much for the compliments!

Melanie | June 23, 2009 at 7:56 PM

Yes, for north side you could still plant sedum, as long as it gets fullnorth sun. The best sedum for this situation would be sedum acre "Aureum", sedum "Oreganum", and sedum "Tennatum". These are plants I am sure would thrive, but I suspect other species such as "sweet woodruff" and any small hosta varieties would work too. Basicaly any plant that is for shade that is for 2 zones colder than your current zone. Ground covers work well if you want to plant every second planting spot (thats what we did).
Thanks for the compliments!

Melanie | June 23, 2009 at 7:52 PM

Hi Shannon,
No, we didn't put in irrigation, but it can be easily installed with a "drip line". The "living wall" is a system of interlocking panels, designed to let the overflow of water flow to the next panel and so on.
We will probably put in the drip line still, but even now it easily watered (from the top, for the flow system).
The plants are perennial! I picked zone 3 plants (as we are in zone 5) so they can withstand the freeze and thaw of our Barrie winters. I have a bit of concern of the Primula surviving, but I am totally confident of the "sedums" and "creeping jenny".
Are you going to put one up?

Melanie | June 23, 2009 at 7:36 PM

WOW! More details and video for sure please! Almost everyone has access to a wall like that, even on a balcony. I imagine you can plant shade species too for the north side of the building?

Calvin | June 22, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Melanie - the "living" wall looks fantastic!! How did you set up the watering system for this wall? Will you have to replant the wall every year? I am iching to find out more... this is super exciting stuff!

Shannon | June 22, 2009 at 8:58 AM
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