diy landscaping projects weekend

weekend project: living wall

August 22, 2013

Hi friends!  Finally the reveal you’ve been waiting for:  our living wall!  I’m so happy that it’s done, looking so lush with lots of pretty plants, and, did I mention that it’s done?  Yeah!

What do you think?  I think I am in love with it.

Let me back up a bit to give you the details of how we built this, in case you’re interested in constructing your own.  To start, I wanted to create a wall that would not damage our rather precious and not terribly robust Eichler siding.  This meant not having plants, soil, and moisture right up against the siding.

After some research, I chose to go with the Woolly Pockets since they have an impermeable membrane built into the pocket so moisture is contained.  The pockets are designed to mount directly to a wall, using wall anchors or screws.  However, I didn’t want to put a million holes in our siding and have the weight of the pockets supported by the siding and wall anchors only.  I needed something more sturdy that mounted to the wall studs.  My solution was to design a backing board that would mount to the studs, onto which we would then attach rows of Wally Threes.

Here’s how it came together:

TADA!  When I think back, it was almost that simple.  Before things got serious, I used painter’s tape to convince myself of where exactly I wanted the wall to go:

Basic materials included plywood (we used 5-ply, 3/4″ thick), 2×4 redwood lumber (nice dry stuff), and a whole lotta wood screws.  The wall was to be 68″ wide by 78″ tall, to accommodate six Wally Three pockets.

Given the size of plywood at the store, this meant we had two half-panels which we assembled to make the full backing board.  The back was framed using the 2x4s, to give ample space between our siding and the board, and to accommodate a French cleat which was instrumental in getting the board up and attached to the wall studs.

That cleat was magical, I tell you.  And I may be in love with my table saw (Ryobi BT3000, which I bought second-hand!) as a result. The alternative to using the cleat would have been for one person (myself or my husband) to be holding up a giant piece of plywood whilst the other scrambled to drive screws through to hang it.  Painful and totally not fun, I’m sure.

With the cleat, we just attached half of the cleat (pointy edge up) to the wall, driving 3″ screws through into our studs.  We cut the other half of the cleat (pointy edge down) in half, and the two halves went along the tops of the plywood panels.  Lift, hang, and behold!

To make things extra-secure, we did attach a 2×4 in the middle of the space behind the wall, and drove 2″ screws through the plywood along the cleat and the 2×4.  That thing is not going anywhere.

After mounting the backing board, attaching pockets, and running irrigation, we planted.  And planted and planted and planted.  I believe I visited no fewer than four nurseries in the past week, because I really wanted a wall that I loved.  And when I said that I wanted ALL of the plants, I was not joking!

And so, I ended up using the following to fill the wall, mostly from Flora Grubb and my local Summerwinds:

  • Bromeliads (Vriesea Gigantea Nova and Tessellata)
  • Ferns (foxtail and Sprengeri)
  • Stonecrop (‘Bronze Carpet’)
  • Foxtail agave (Agave attentuata)
  • Euphorbia (‘Dean’s Hybrid’)
  • Echeveria (Hens and chicks)
  • Senecio mandratiscae
  • Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa M. ‘All Gold’)
  • Yucca rostrata
  • Tiny mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis ewaldiana)
I realize these will not all co-exist happily until the end of time, and the wall will evolve.  We’ll see if the bromeliads are OK with this location or not, as I’ve never dealt with them before.  It turns out that to water them you need to fill up their cups, so we may rig a tiny sprinkler above them in addition to the drip irrigation.  And anything that’s not completely happy can be relocated to other parts of our yard.

Now, I just need some sort of seating from which I can enjoy the wall.  Hanging chair or Acapulco?

(This is not in any way a sponsored post.  And you can find my earlier post about planning this project right here.)

All photos by Karolina Buchner

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  • Reply Form and Function August 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Oh my! It’s beautiful! Such a lovely wall and mix of plants. I’d put two Acapulco chairs there, or maybe one rocker and a side table for lemonade ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’m getting my “sophisticated” Acapulcos soon…grey PVC with chrome base. A little grass turf pillow and it’s time to lounge!

    • Reply karolina August 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Thank you! I do love the Acapulco idea. I got to try one out recently and was pleased with how comfy and lounge-y they are. Super relaxing. Time for some shopping!

  • Reply hannah m August 23, 2013 at 2:45 am

    it is stunning. everything you touch turns to gold, karolina! it took my breath away to see it in person. i love how you make your visions come to life.

    (ps i can totally imagine the Acapulco chairs in this space!)

    • Reply karolina August 25, 2013 at 3:51 am

      Oh Hannah – thank you for your words. Though if you ask Dave, everything I touch turns into an excuse to purchase more power tools. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply living wall update - Dear House I Love You February 23, 2015 at 4:01 am

    […] So yes, it’s still attached to our house, it’s still alive, and we’re all still very happy together.ย  If you’re interested in details of our installation, check out my post all about it. […]

  • Reply Annie October 23, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Stunning!! You’re giving me the confidence to pull the trigger on making this. Just found your blog and I love it. Hope you went with a hanging chair ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Karolina November 8, 2020 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Annie! After nearly eight years, the wall is still going strong. It’s fun to change up the plants every once in a while. Best of luck with your project! ๐Ÿ™‚

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