Web Extra: Types of living walls

January 29, 2018 -  By

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Do you want to dig a little deeper into the world of green walls? With so many living wall components currently on the market, we thought it would be helpful to compile a glossary of some of the systems out there.

Keep in mind, this list doesn’t include every type of system. Many systems fall into more than one category. Others can be a combination of the different systems listed below.

Modular walls (pictured)

  • These types of walls include square or rectangular panels that hold growing media to support plant material.
  • They consist of panels or modules that can be independently created.
  • They’re often pregrown for an instant green effect.

Hydroponic (soil-less) walls (pictured)

  • These components don’t require soil to grow, but soil can provide mechanic root support.
  • They can be modular or nonmodular.

Substrate-based/soil-based walls

  • These applications are sometimes comprised of molded troughs or containers that are built or attached to the existing wall.
  • The plantings are supported by soil-based substrates.
  • Too much weight can become an issue with these walls.

Fabric-based walls

  • Plants are rooted into nonperishable material such as foam, synthetic fiber or rock wool.
  • They can be modular or nonmodular.

Pocket plant walls

  • Material, such as felt, is stapled onto a board of lightweight material, such as plastic.
  • They are typically watered from the top, with the water wicking into each plant.
  • The roots grow into the moist felt.
  • They can be planted with soil.

Tray-based walls

  • These walls are comprised of various trays, some resembling angled shelves.
  • The trays are made of recyclable material, such as polypropylene, and can be reused (although they too have a lifetime).
  • Panels are required to hang the trays.

Climbing facades

  • These applications incorporate climbing or trailing plants.
  • The plants can be established in the ground, in suitable troughs at the base of the wall or at the top of the wall.
  • A type of framework—such as wire mesh frames, trellises or steel cables—is attached to the wall for plants to “climb up.”

Remember, the type of system you choose to implement will depend on your situation; trial and error may be the best way to decide which system is right for you.

Photo: Growing Green Guide

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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