How To Grow An Outdoor Green Wall

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Outdoor green walls are vertical gardens, plants growing on a vertical surface. A green wall can be purely decorative in your garden. It also serves a bigger purpose in urban areas, cooling and filtering the air and providing respite from the city setting in a small space. It’s easier than you think to create your own backyard vertical garden. 

The Origin of the Outdoor Vertical Garden

Outdoor living walls are fairly common today, but the first modern incarnation didn’t appear until the 1930s. Stanley Hart White, a University of Illinois professor of landscape architecture invented and patented what he called botanical bricks used to create vertical gardens

The idea of a vertical garden is popular today because of climate change. A green wall allows people to grow more carbon-storing, air-filtering plants in smaller, urban spaces. Green walls even lower temperatures amid the heat islands of cities. 

Important Considerations for an Outdoor Wall Planter

Before crafting your own vertical garden, consider some of the most important factors for success. First and foremost, you need a supportive structure. This could be a wall, fence, arbor, or other sturdy structure. Know its load-bearing strength before adding plants. 

You’ll also need some type of container for the plants that drains well and an appropriate soil mix. Determine how you’ll water the plants. For instance, will you build in an irrigation system, or will it be within reach of hand watering? Of course, you also need to be sure the plants you use will work in the given conditions of light exposure, wind, and temperatures. 

Ideas for Creating an Outdoor Plant Wall

A plant wall can be as simple as hanging lightweight pots from your fence using florist wire or twine. It can also be as complicated as building a structure solely for the purpose of creating a green wall. Here are some ideas to get you started in your own garden: 

  • Shipping pallet. This is a great starter project. All you need is a pallet, some landscaping fabric, and a staple gun. Wrap the fabric around the back and sides of the pallet and secure it with staples. You can then fill the front with soil and put plants in between the slats. Lean it up against a wall or fence or hang it. 
  • Lightweight pots. Another easy project uses lightweight pots hanging from a structure. You can use plastic but also Styrofoam containers. Just poke a hole in the side of a container near the top and use floral wire hang the container from a fence, trellis, or arbor. Pack the containers in tightly, and as the plants grow they’ll cover them, giving you a green wall. If you want to create this type of garden on a wall, use trellis lattice cut to the size you want. Attach it to the wall and hang potted plants. 
  • Succulent frame. Succulents are great for creating patterns in a vertical garden. Buy a succulent frame online or from a garden center, and you just need to fill it with soil and insert small succulent cuttings. Leave it horizontal for a few weeks or up to three months so the cuttings take root. You can then hang the frame anywhere.
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