You see them everywhere now, the living walls. They’re beautiful, they’re a fantastic way to cleanse the air and they create a sense of peace and tranquility. I live in a concrete building and I’ve been looking at ways to to beautify my balcony. I already have a fabulous container garden as well as an herb garden in my kitchen, but I wanted something a bit more. So I started researching living walls. I would spend nights pouring over photos of all of the living walls that are planted around Paris, and I wondered how on earth I was going to accomplish something so complicated. Was I going to need to track down a gardening teacher for this? Seriously! I have a green thumb and everything, but this looked pretty tough.
I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case. I wasn’t trying to create a living wall for a sky scraper, I’m just trying to create one for a six foot by five foot concrete wall, and it’s totally doable. Whew! First things first, you need to understand how and what a living wall is and how it works. The whole idea of a living wall is to construct it so that the soil goes up the wall and allows a place to grow plants and shrubs. If planted correctly, a living wall will flourish as the rain or water washes down over it. If you’re working with a concrete wall, like myself, you can put together a frame quite easily that will allow you to fill it with soil. It will resemble steps growing upwards. But before you construct your frame, you’re going to want to hit up your local Home Depot or hardware store to buy a sealant. You don’t want to worry about water seepage into the building (especially if you’re living in a rental building, it could cause irreparable damage if you don’t know what you’re doing, so be careful). The other thing to consider is that a living wall can be quite heavy, and this is something that needs to be taken into consideration. If you live on the ground floor, it’s not as much of an issue, but if you live on a balcony, you need be careful.
If you’re not super handy, you can consider using an old book shelf, and planting a series of small vegetables. You may not get the same look as a wall of vegetation, but you won’t have to be concerned about weight nor will you have to worry about water seepage into the building siding. Another idea, is to use a trellis, something that you would use in a back yard. You can grow ivy, or even some vine vegetables. Again, the impact on the building is much lighter and you still get the illusion of a decorative living wall.