Ver­ti­cal gar­dens have ar­rived

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mairi MacLean

WE’VE been hear­ing lots about liv­ing, green roofs. Isn’t it time for liv­ing walls?

Well, ver­ti­cal gar­dens have ar­rived: walls filled top to bot­tom with grow­ing plant ma­te­rial.

As well as pro­vid­ing a very cool look, such walls pro­vide way more tex­ture and colour than sim­ple vines grow­ing on a lat­tice, be­cause you can use many dif­fer­ent plants.

There are at least three types of liv­ing walls. One is made of stain­lesssteel mesh, two sides filled with grow­ing me­dia in be­tween. It’s not very deep, maybe two or three inches. The grow­ing medium could be a soil mix, well-drain­ing soil with sand or gravel or ver­mi­culite mixed in. It could be smaller par­ti­cles of lava rock; it could also be ex­truded clay.

An­other sys­tem is based on mo­du­lar units fea­tur­ing cells that are an­gled to hold in the soil ma­te­rial. The units fit to­gether to cre­ate what­ever size of wall is re­quired.

The third sys­tem is based on a geo- tex­tile fab­ric. Sev­eral lay­ers of this felt-like syn­thetic fab­ric (to mea­sure about one-inch thick­ness) are placed in a frame and the plant’s roots grow through the fab­ric, which sup­ports them.

You cut a small slit in the first layer, get rid of all the soil from the plant roots, stick the plant into the lit­tle pocket, and even­tu­ally those roots will start.

Out of doors, liv­ing walls are gen­er­ally placed in a trough that’s lined and put in the ground. There are dif­fer­ent wa­ter­ing sys­tems such as au­to­matic ir­ri­ga­tion, some with com­put­er­ized fer­til­iz­ing sys­tems.

How­ever, drought-tol­er­ant suc­cu­lent peren­ni­als in­clud­ing se­dum and stonecrop have been used suc­cess­fully in green walls for many sea­sons and can sur­vive with­out ir­ri­ga­tion. On the Prairies, green walls should not be placed on a south-fac­ing wall un­less you are us­ing suc­cu­lents (drought-tol­er­ant plants) as it be­comes too hot for them and the grow­ing medium can dry up too quickly.

Liv­ing walls can also be used to grow an­nual herbs, smaller vege- ta­bles or straw­ber­ries.

The best thing about liv­ing walls is that they don’t take a lot of space. As homes get big­ger and yards get smaller, these walls can be used as ed­i­ble pri­vacy screens.

One On­tario-based com­pany, ELT Easy Green, makes a liv­ing-wall kit with prices start­ing at around $40 per sin­gle unit (one square foot) or about $60 for two. Check out their web­site at eltliv­ing­walls.com for more in­for­ma­tion and ideas. G-Sky Green Walls and Roofs, a Van­cou­ver-based com­pany, is an­other maker of liv­ing-wall sys­tems. Their web­site, green­rooftops.com, shows sev­eral dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

One of the new trends in trel­lises em­pha­sizes hor­i­zon­tal lines and doesn’t

fea­ture climb­ing plants.

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