Living Wall Planning

Discussion in 'Container Gardening' started by clippo, Jan 28, 2021.

  1. clippo

    clippo Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi Folks

    I'm planning on creating a living wall behind a semi raised pond that I am building.

    The wall be composed of 3 black planter pocket sheets (a bit like shoe organisers, but made of felt), and will have 75 pockets altogether. These will be attached to a timber frame which will in turn be attached to concrete fence posts. Total area will be 3m wide by 1m high. I will be able to get down the back of the pond from both ends to access the wall (although it might get interesting if it really grows thick!).

    The fence that it sits in front of faces South East but only really gets full sun until noon in high summer as there are some tall leylandi on the Southern border of my garden. Also, there is a pergola covering the pond and this has a corrugated polycarb roof (clear) - so there is very little 'direct' sunlight. For this reason I'm thinking of plants that prefer shaded or semi shaded conditions... ferns, heucheras etc.

    I will be able to route some run-off from the pergola roof so it drips onto the tops of the wall and percolates down. I may also add a timed irrigation system using waste pond or rain water in the future.

    So that's it really... I'm just waiting for the planters to arrive and then aim to build the frame. In the meantime I'm researching plants and like the look of Asplenium scolopendrium, Adiantum venustum, Polypodium vulgare, Athyrium nipponicum (Silver falls and Ursula's Red... I realise these may die back in winter)...Heucheras, Heucherallas, Fucshias, Brunnera macrophyllia 'Jack Frost', Campanula portenshlagia, Pachysandra terminals, Lysimachia nummularia... I'm planning on buying multiples of each as plugs from jparkers in late March to April. I'm wondering if I might be able to try some Monstera and Nepenthes in there too at some point... maybe when I've got a year or two of experience, and only during summer of course.

    Planting substrates do confuse me a bit still and I'm thinking of using a mix of 3 parts multi purpose peat free compost, 1 part John Innes No3, and 1 part grit for pretty much everything... adding some slow release 10-10-10 when I plant the plugs... mulching with some bark chippings.

    Can anyone see any major flaws with the plan? Any constructive criticism? I attached a quick pic also... obviously the garden is still a work in progess... particularly the pond. The living wall will be in front of the fence visible on the right.
     

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    • Finngal

      Finngal Gardener

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      It's an interesting and semi complex project.
      I'd love to see how it turns out in the summer when you have a full bloom going

      Only thing I thought is that John Innes 3 to my knowledge is acidic and mostly designed for high energy plants such as cucumbers and pumpkins. Whereas most plants you listed might enjoy more a flower growing generalised media,like a regular top soil, mixed with gravel or sand.
      Especially thinking of the pouches, I'd go for regular top soil with third sand or gravel, making them more sturdy and heavy.

      I made an indoor green wall (4x2.8 meters) by using regular house plants, and in my experience too much acidity and strong soil just made them not root well and yellowed leaves. Once I changed to a top soil sand mix, they love it there.
       
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      • Snorky85

        Snorky85 Total Gardener

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        Hi @clippo

        Your plans sound great. The only word of caution I'd apply is do your research into the plants you use (sounds like you have) but I have been to a few garden shows etc and have a tv gardener acquaintance who I've chatted to about the show gardens etc and has commented a few times that those "show" living walls would never work as the plants they had used would never grow together and bloom etc at the same time. They're all forced for show gardens. HOWEVER, I like the sounds of the plants you've picked and think they'd do well.

        I would also use JI no.3. I've not read anywhere that it is slightly acidic? (I could be wrong here @Finngal) I have used JI no. 3 for most of my mature plants and specifically heucheras.

        Also another thought that has popped into my head...check the weight and support for the wall will be adequate, because once you've got the soil, stones and plants in, plus soaking with water it could very heavy.

        Good luck with it - please share some piccies. I'll be excited to see how it turns out!
         
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        • clippo

          clippo Apprentice Gardener

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          thanks - useful comments and ideas there. Yes the weight issue is one I've considered and it does concern me a little, more in terms of how the planter panel 'pockets' will hold the plants, rather then how the concrete posts will hold the whole thing. I guess I'll have to judge it when the planters arrive as I'm not sure how heavy duty they will be. They didn't cost loads so I'm not sure what to expect! Will definitely share pics...
           
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          • Finngal

            Finngal Gardener

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            Yep, they state its ph 6-7, so not the proper acid loving blueberry soil (which btw look lovely on a living wall and are super fun to pick), but ji3 is not the typical neutral top soil and even less properly alcaloid.

            Now, I don't know how important this actually is with the plants mentioned in, but considering the effort involved in shuffing it into those pouches and thinking the joy of perhaps needing to remove it ... :noidea:
            The less you have soil and the more its isolated in a pot, in general less room you have for error before the results start to show.
             
          • clippo

            clippo Apprentice Gardener

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            not a bad day today, and my planters arrived before schedule. They look OK but proof will be in the pudding I guess. I've got enough spare tanalised timber knocking about to make the frame I think. Just need a few bits and pieces.
             

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            • clippo

              clippo Apprentice Gardener

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              So I've now built the frame and semi attached the planter sheets. Here's a quick pic (try to ignore the half finished pond!). One thing... the only planting media I could find locally (didn't want to go far due to covid) was this combined stuff. I did buy a bag of horticultural grit with it too. Do folks think that this will be OK for the plants mentioned?

              20210131_135313.jpg
               
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              • Finngal

                Finngal Gardener

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                I think that should work a treat :dbgrtmb:
                 
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                • clippo

                  clippo Apprentice Gardener

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                  hey folks, not made much progress other than screwing the sheets to the frame a bit more securely, and stapling some parts. I've not put netting/mesh behind the sheets but may do this in future if the pockets don't look well supported. I'll use cable ties as mentioned above.

                  Just planning my irrigation system at the moment. I'm planning on having a container linked to the overflow of my pond so that this is constantly full. The container itself will have an overflow that goes into a drain pipe. The pond will be fed on a trickle system so constantly overflows a small amount. There will be a pump in the container that operates on a timer. I'm not sure what kind of hose to attach though. The pump has a flow rate of 3500lph max and 2.5m head. It has a 23mm outlet so this is a bit big for most of the irrigation pipe I see. I wonder if I could 'snake' a long length of black hosepipe along across each row of pockets to cover the entire wall, and then insert an irrigation nozzles above each pocket. I'd need 75 nozzles and the hose would need to be about 20m long I think.
                   
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                  • Finngal

                    Finngal Gardener

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                    I have my vertical hydroponic system that goes to 2.35 meters, and for that high I needed a 10k/hr waterfountain pump with lifting capacity of 3 meters.
                    As a rule of thumb, use largest fitting pipe you can. For 23mm you could propably go with water pipe system such as Speedfit pipe and parts. They are by far simplest, and easy to cut with a regular hand saw (fine tooth).
                    The smaller the pipe is and the more you flex, and the longer it goes, less pressure and less chance your water it gets up.
                    So in general to get max flow, try to use smooth straight hard plastic pipe, one straight line with minimum bends, straight up till highest point, and from then do the divisions you need That means after gravity pulls water down, even through curves and soft pipe.

                    The pumpable heights are measured with straight hard pipe directly from pump with max tube upright. In practical terms its almost never that, so overkill is recommended.

                    Aquarium / pond shops sell pond waterfountain pumps. Mine is 65 watts, and does the job.
                     
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                    • clippo

                      clippo Apprentice Gardener

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                      thanks - that's really useful info! I'm hoping my pump may be good as the distance from pump outlet to the highest point is 1.5m. Always able to upgrade though if needed. Good tip on the speedfit... I've used that on my reef tank water change system but hadn't thought of it. So do you suggest having a vertical pipe with T junctions fitted for each row... with a horizontal pipe coming out from each T for each row? Shame it's white though... don't think you can get black... what do you do for the drip nozzles? or do you mean attach some other kind of pipe/hose to the vertical speedfit section?
                       
                    • Finngal

                      Finngal Gardener

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                      I'd go one vertical up, from middle. Then split right-left with 2 way. On both of these with 3 way plugs one entry,one down,one continue.
                      Or something alike...
                      You can use primer and then spray them with car paints to desired colour :yes:

                      As for the nozzles, I would probably try to save and just drill small holes to the downward pipe, and with aquarium silicon push thin aquarium airstone hose pieces in. That should give dribbling effect.
                      But I suppose you could use either plugs that make pipe smaller, or even just black duct tape, as you won't have lot of pressure there.
                       
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                      • clippo

                        clippo Apprentice Gardener

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                        prototype version of the irrigation system now in place... took a quick vid to demo it. Ultimately the bucket will be replaced by a larger container which will be connected to my pond overflow and a large rainwater butt. As mentioned in the vid, I'm not sure whether or not to add more 'arms' to ensure that water is distributed more evenly. As it stands, I wonder if plants on the top row would get too much water, and ones on the bottom, not enough. Constructive comments welcome!



                        Anyone know what ratio of grit to compost/JI mix I need to go for?
                         
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                        • rustyroots

                          rustyroots Total Gardener

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                          • clippo

                            clippo Apprentice Gardener

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                            aha that timer looks great - thanks!
                             
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