Monday, November 9, 2009

DIY Greenwall Materials list

People ask me about the specific materials I used to make my wall here's a list and some links and also some less expensive and more environmentally friendly alternatives. Please keep in mind I am not recommending specific sites or vendors to purchase these through. I only show them as examples of what you'll need. I would encourage you to try to source your materials locally to support local businesses and to avoid shipping fees.

Frame:

1" Aluminum Square Stock I bought mine at a local hardware store. It was pretty expensive. I forget exactly how much I used.

Cheaper Eco Alternative

FSC Cedar Strips 1"x3"s Cheaper than aluminum and far better for the environment. I'd build my next wall with these.

Surface:

Sintra Expanded PVC Sheets 6mm I would never use this material again. I only used it the first time because it's what Patrick Blanc suggests. It's heavy expensive and really bad for the environment. I bought it at a local plastic store on Canal street in NYC and they only had 6mm so I bought double to get to 12mm. Really I only needed 10mm but they didn't have 10mm sheets.

Cheaper Eco Alternative

Corrugated Polyethylene Plastic Sheets 10mm
I think these sheets would work just as well and I would build my next wall with these. Some things to test would be how well they hold staples and how stiff the material is at this thickness. Also if you do your research you can find these sheets made partially from recycled plastic.

Fabric:

Moisture Retention Mat MRM14 (100% recycled polyester and polypropylene) The owner of Green Roof Solutions is willing to sell the fabric in amounts suitable for walls as small as 4x8.

Misc:

Rust Proof Staples 12mm (you may need to tailor the length depending on the thickness of your surface material) These are rust proof not rust resistant. There is no iron in them so they can never rust. Expensive but worth it.

Submersible Pond Pump I'm not sure this is exactly the one I have. It looks just like this one but mine may be the size up from this one. Regardless you'll need to tailor the pump to the size and height of your wall. I made this one work although I probably could have used a smaller cheaper pump. I bought mine at my local pet store. They fitted the pump with adapters so I could connect it to polyethylene tubing from my local hardware store.

18 comments:

  1. Can you post a list of the plants you used and what nutrients are you using (I imagine you are not using pure water, since there are no minerals in the felt substrate). Thanks

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  2. It would be great if could list the plants you used. Also, isn't there a problem of light? don't the plants need natural light in order to survive?

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  3. Hi Venelin and Llazar,

    Please see my latest post for answers to your questions.

    Thanks,

    Matt

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  4. Hey Matt thanks for this blog, it is great. I had also considered using the 10mm corrugated Polyethylene plastic sheets. I am concerned that the small I-beam formed plastic separators within the board will not hold the fabric and media over along duration of time. I plan on using them on a wall in early January and I guess only time will tell. The PVC panels are so expensive. If you do not mind me asking, how much are you generally paying for these panels? The cheapest I can find them online is for $125 a piece before shipping. Do you know of a better sourse?

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  5. Hi Living Wall Enthusiast,

    The inside of the PVC sheet is expanded like foam. Honestly I'd say it's the outer hard shell of the PVC that's holding the staple more than the inside. But that's just a guess. So by that thinking the PE sheets should work just about as well. Also remember that the force on the staples is downward for the most part. Nothing is really pulling them outward. And there's quite a few of them with all the pockets; hundreds if not thousands of staples. I haven't seen a better price than you found for the PVC. You could request a sample of both materials and put some staples in them and see what kind of force is required to pull them out. If you are willing to do that and document it I'll put it up so that everyone gains. I'd be really surprised if the PE sheet wasn't adequate.

    Matt

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  6. love it, you work is very inspiring. I just wonder that how you made sure the water wouldn't leak out at the splits between PVC sheets, because it may damage the closet's surface?
    Thanks

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  7. @Kim In the case of my wall we had two layers of sheets so we staggered them to avoid leaks. Also I believe we used a silicone sealer at the seams also. The wall is hung away from the closet so that even if water got to the back it would just drip into the basin.

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  8. Hi Matt, first of all thank you for this great greenwall blog! I'm very new in making living walls, but I'm thinking of creating a 180 sqft wall in my new house next year. What do you think of a surface made of wood? There is a material, we call in Germany "Siebdruckplatte", which is waterresistant and often used for trailers. It's a dense plywood with lacquer on both sides (brown color). One could even think of covering this additionally with foil (for making small garden ponds). What do you think about it?

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  9. @leppenraub

    You're welcome. I think wood would work just fine. Keep in mind that the wood will be wet down about 4 times a day. But it will have time to dry too. If you build with wood would you mind documenting your build so you can share your process with other people?

    Thanks,

    Matt

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  10. I think I will make a prototype wall first with the above plywood and EPDM cover. Most of the material I have already - I'll keep you informed!

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  11. A Canadian company called Renew Resources LTD makes something called Polyboard that is made from 100% recycled plastic and comes in various thickness. Not sure on the price in comparison to the PVC board yet, should be getting a quote from them shortly.

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  12. Dear Matt,
    We will soon be building a garden wall at an exterior location in
    Manhattan beach ca. south facing two story stucco building, aprox 800
    sqft.
    The building is an existing Motel . Love your walls and the way they are put together , can this be done in an exterior location?

    Herald

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  13. I don't know if you can buy it in small quantities there, but you might check at Grower's Supply for a cheaper price on the corrugated polyethylene. It is used in greenhouse endwalls so they sell it there.

    New link for the Moisture Retention Mat:
    http://www.greenroofsolutions.com/products/membrane-protection/moisture-retention-mat/

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  14. @Moyers Thanks for catching the bad MRM link. I just corrected it. The corrugated I recommended here is 10mm. The thickest I saw on Grower's Supply was 8mm. Also the 10mm sheet on the link I provided was cheaper than the 8mm on Grower's Supply. But it's always good to have options. Thanks for your post.

    Matt

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  15. Hey Matt,
    Thanks for keeping this wonderful blog.

    Two questions. (1) In regards to sealing the seams of the corrugated plastic sheets, you mentioned using a silicone sealer. I have also seen videos of living walls constructed with a water proof tape, or something similar. Do you have any experiences with such a material or know where to find it?

    (2) Have you experienced any issues with water seeping through the plastic sheets byway of the staples holding the moister retention mat?

    Thanks for your advise and hosting this blog.

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  16. @Green Roots

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    1. I have seen a local wall that used a foil sealing tape. I believe it was purchased online. A good hardware store would also probably stock it. If you use two layers of sheets and stagger your sheet seams this is less of an issue. That's what I did.

    2. I have not experienced this. My staples don't go all the way through the sheets. Even if they did it would be tough for water to seep around the snug fit of the staple. Also the sheets are over the basin so even if water gets to the back of the sheets it will still eventually drip down to the basin.

    Good Luck,

    Matt

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  17. Hi Matt,
    what do you think about water-proof plasterboard as surface?
    It is a rigid material (don't need aluminium or wood frame) and really cheap (about 5€/mq in Italy ... it's 4$ for 10 square feet in USA).
    I'm working on my first green wall and I think I'll use this material.
    Like to know your opinion.
    Thank you.
    Giuliano, Italy.

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  18. @Giuliano Sorry for the super slow reply. I think waterproof plasterboard is a great idea. You'd need to test it to see if it will easily hold a staple but it sounds like a great idea. Did you work with it? Can you send me your results?

    Thanks,

    Matt

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