We’re always looking for ways to make the most of our outdoor spaces. Living wall ideas allow you to embrace greenery in your vertical outdoor spaces to create a lush wall of foliage.
In addition to adding a personal and unique touch to your space, this planting style can fit almost anywhere. Whatever type of garden ideas you have – from a small patio to a large lawn, living walls will make the most of your space.
“A living wall is a great way to bring greenery into your home or garden and refresh the space, creating a modern, sophisticated look that will add interest and colour,” says Marcus Iles, Head of Horticulture at Dobbies.
Living wall ideas for gardens
Living walls are one of the hottest gardening trends to emerge in recent years, and are increasingly making their way into residential gardens.
Systems can range from something as simple as plant pots hung on a vertical frame, to highly sophisticated modular hydroponic panels through which water and nutrients are delivered and monitored electronically.
1. Frame your foliage
While many living wall ideas take up large amounts of space, the framing technique will help even the smallest amount of greenery make an impact. This is a great solution for small spaces, but also works well to help break up larger walls.
Choose a frame that contrasts with the wall behind it to ensure that the plants contrast with the color contrast.
2. Swap it easily
If you tend to change your mind easily, or like to keep things easy, consider a custom solution like a trellis. Instead of building a living wall, simply place larger plants below and hang pots of foliage and flowers between the brackets for a great example of easy garden ideas.
This is an especially good idea if you tend to prefer flowers over foliage. In this case, you can replace the pots with seasonal flowers when needed.
3. Add delicate flowers for color and texture
While most living wall ideas lean heavily toward foliage, some floral details wouldn’t go amiss. Choose delicate flowers to add interest, texture and even color, without overly distracting the eye.
Look at flowers like Vinca minor (periwinkle) and Saxifraga x urbium (Pride of London). These lighter, more curvy flowers will also handle the vertical growing method better than other types.
4. Cover it with a tiled mural
If you love the look of a living wall, but don’t have the time to keep up with the maintenance, choose another option. Create a mural using botanical tiles to create the illusion of plants and foliage on your outdoor walls.
Add some climbing plants to your outdoor wall decor ideas and you’ll be able to create a 3D effect without fully committing to an actual living wall.
5. Create continuity with raised beds
If you choose to have a small section of the living wall, consider how the garden will be laid out to ensure the rest of the space is cohesive. Raised beds can be planted with foliage similar to or complementary to the walls. The line will be slightly blurred between the end of the living wall and the beginning of the beds, which helps create a sense of cohesion.
6. Choose a different type of living wall
Plants, of course, are not the only thing that lives in the garden. Support bees and bugs by including a vertical insect hotel to provide places for them to live. Your garden will thank you, too, because your flowers will be prime targets for pollination from our pesky friends.
7. Surrounding the yard with a vertical garden
Even the smallest outdoor spaces can accommodate a living wall. In fact, for some small garden ideas, it can help make the space feel more surrounding, with the feeling of being surrounded by nature. Vertical planting is suitable for concealing brick walls or enclosing fences that make an already compact space feel even more oppressive.
The softness of the planting helps make a limited outdoor space appear rich and closer to nature. Even a small balcony garden idea can look like a fertile plot of land with a thriving living wall.
8. Welcoming wild farming
Maintain the loose and modern look of wild meadow plantings by using unexpected plant species. Use an abundance of tall grasses to add depth, embracing climbing ivy to provide sweeping coverage.
Foliage plants such as heucheras and ferns should be tidied by clipping fallen leaves as needed. Annuals, in particular, benefit from a liquid feed every two weeks in the summer, although any display that has been around for any length of time will need feeding to keep it looking its best.
9. Create a colorful planting chart
Incorporate colorful bedding plants to ensure your living wall is full of color. When choosing flowering plants, as always, you will need to deadhead the flowers to encourage new blooms later in the season and to keep the wall looking its best.
If you’re installing your green wall on the side of a house, Dobies recommends installing a waterproof membrane on the wall before starting, to prevent moisture problems.
10. Do a hard workout using ready-made planks
This agricultural trend can be revived in our homes with the help of pre-planted modular panels. This easy gardening idea allows your walls to look beautiful with minimal effort.
“Living wall planters can be easily installed over any solid area,” explains Marcus from Dobbies. “Walls can be built inside or outside, and can be as large or small as you like, meaning they can be designed to fit the size of your space.”
11. Keep it lush with ferns and evergreen foliage
Soften your hardscape and exterior walls with a richly planted vertical garden. Modular panels are pre-planted and covered with various greenery including ferns and other leafy plants.
The living plant wall needs watering every two or three days depending on the climate (unless you choose to add an automatic watering system), and more often in summer – check by sticking your finger into the soil to see if the compost is dry.
12. Plant a living gallery wall
Break tradition and create an outdoor gallery wall by hanging plants in pots and frames – a great garden idea on a budget to enhance your outdoor space without spending a lot of money!. This quirky approach to the living wall idea involves less gardening experience and therefore requires less maintenance.
To recreate the look, simply hang a variety of planters, securely on one wall, to elevate your planting.
13. Encourage climbing plants for a look
Embellish the look with a climbing plant idea to provide lush coverage to the walls without having to install an irrigation system. You simply need a well-supported climber to establish itself and take control of the whole.
“Climber supports should be placed before planting,” advises Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express. “Planting close to a wall or fence can create a ‘rain shadow,’ which means rain doesn’t reach the plant roots.” So make sure you water it well, as you would any living wall.
14. Take a look inside
Downsized but still elegant for the interior, this distinctive gray living room idea features a striking living wall of sorts. An eye-catching gold frame was used to cover two planters overflowing with lush ferns, adding a touch of nature’s beauty to the decor. Get creative and make your own by mounting wall plants on an MDF backboard and then framing them.
You can create a living wall using a range of different systems, including wall planters where watering cans are attached to the walls; A modular live plate system where plants are placed in small cups and rooted in a mat behind them or a panel of planting pockets, hung on the wall and simply watered once a month.
How to make a living plant wall
1. Choose your space
You can build a living plant wall on any solid wall or fence – build directly onto the side of your house, a garden fence, or even a sturdy shed. For the interior, a custom-made wooden wall gives you the freedom to move it from room to room.
Once you’ve chosen a structurally sound wall or fence, simply attach rows of 2-by-1-inch treated posts at 15-inch intervals to fill the space. Check the spirit level as you go to make sure they are straight.
2. Attach the planters
Using an electric screwdriver and working from the bottom up, attach the plastic planters to the beams. Click and lock the planters together and build your wall in staggered rows.
3. Get irrigation
Starting at the top, water your wall with a hose or watering can. The reservoir system is designed to keep plants watered for up to two weeks.
4. Green up your wall
Fill the pot with your chosen plants using 12-13cm pots. Remove plants from their pots and plant them directly into the planters. Alternatively to make changing the layout really easy, place the pot directly into each pot – making sure the pot is touching the base of the tank.
What plants should I choose for a living wall?
A range of herbaceous perennials, grasses, small shrubs, herbs and even fruits and vegetables can be used. Try to include scented plants, seasonal flowers and bulbs. Ask your local garden nursery for advice on which plants will suit the look and microclimate of the wall you will be growing on.
Plants to create a living wall:
- Adiantum (maidenhair fern)
- Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (sedge)
- Fragaria ‘Mara de Bois’ (strawberry)
- Galanthus (snowdrop)
- Heuchera ‘Purple Skirts’
- Liriobi Muscari (Lillitorf)
- Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese mutation)
- Pelargonium peltatum (ivy-leaf geranium)
- Saxifraga x Orbium (Pride of London)
- Tiarella cordifolia (foam flower)
- Vinca minor (small periwinkle)