Thursday, December 10, 2009

My very first post about greenwalls (January 13, 2008) before I even had one

Here's an old post I made on Tribe. It details my early thoughts and info on greenwalls before I'd actually made one.

Some of this info is WRONG! The Girbaud wall probably didn't have thin tubes at intervals (Blanc spreads his tubes out by at least 8-10 feet) and the backing for the Phyto wall was probably much thinner than I estimated. More like 1/3 of an inch than 3/4 of an inch.

Re: Looking for marterials to make a Living Plant Wall
Sun, January 13, 2008 - 6:20 AM

I'm interested in making a planted wall too. Here's some info. Dwell issue Nov 2006 (page 144) has an article on Patrick Blanc. In it he describes a simple "recipe" for the wall.

"10mm thick waterproof PVC slabs covered with polyamid felt, into which holes (pockets actually) are cut for plants; a small hose, punctured every 10cm by a 2mm hole, to run the length of the top of the wall; a timing device to ensure regular, light watering- like a trickle slowly wending its way down a mossy rock. The ensemble is then attached to a metal structure that stands out from a supporting wall, trapping a cushion of air, which acts as insulation."

In addition to this info there is also a plant map of one of his walls which is really what you need to understand what he's planting where.

I live in New York city and there are currently two walls that I am aware of here. One in the Girbaud store and one here:

I have visited both walls (the phyto wall just yesterday) and have been able to gather a bit more info. There appear to be two layers of felt stapled to each other. The outer layer is cut to create a pocket for the roots. Contrary to what I assumed there is some soil around the roots in the pocket. However to avoid insects etc. I think it's probably wise to remove all potted soil and replace with steralized soil unless you are certain your plants are planted in safe soil. Although being a fishtank keeper part of me would argue that insects and whatever else is in the soil mass probably would contribute to the health of the wall. There is also a drip catch at the bottom of the wall. You might also want to see the TV show "21st Century Garden Art The Planthunter Patrick Blanc". I found it on Azureus "Vuze" for 99cents to rent and 1.99 to buy. In in Blanc talks about there being different climates on the wall. The bottom being shaded and wetter and the top being lighter and dryer. This is one of the keys I believe to success. You need to plant the right plants in each area or plant very forgiving plants that do well in quite a range. You might also want to contact Laurent Corradi. He maintained the Phyto wall. He's located at The polyamid felt is a common carpet liner and should be easy to come by. Also I have yet to see any real mold growing on a Blanc wall and I think this is due in part to the use of the polyamid. You need synthetics otherwise you are asking for trouble. On the phyto wall there was a thick plastic sheet about 3/4 thick. On to that was stapled what looked like a synthetic black burlap and on top of that was the felt. On the Girbaud wall it seemed as if there were many fine irrigation hoses running at intervals horizontally across the wall but I could have been mistaken. In the coming weeks I'll be getting more info so stay tuned and good luck.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PingMag Patrick Blanc Interview

Click for PingMag Patrick Blanc Interview.

"The Vertical Garden is composed of three parts: a metal frame, a PVC layer and felt. The metal frame is hung on a wall or can be self-standing. It provides an air layer acting as a very efficient thermic and phonic isolation system. A 1cm thick PVC sheet is then riveted on the metal frame. This layer brings rigidity to the whole structure and makes it waterproof. After that comes a felt layer made of polyamide that is stapled on the PVC. This felt is corrosion-resistant and its high capillarity allows a homogeneous water distribution. The roots are now growing on this felt.

Watering is provided from the top with the tap water being supplemented with nutrients. The process of watering and fertilisation is automated. The whole weight of the ‘Vertical Garden’, including plants and metal frame, is lower than 30 kg per square meter. Thus the Vertical Garden can be implemented on any wall without any size or limitation of height."

One I don't think I've read before.



Nori's Awesome Wall

It's great when people invent their own ways of doing things. Nori has come up with her own approach to a greenwall system; no soil, carpet padding for felt, fishtank reservoir. I love it! Here's her system in her own words and a link to her blog with lots more info.

Matt, I have a vertical garden that isn't quite what you have described. Mine uses a single layer of nylon felt stapled to a backer board with the plantings using little to no dirt. Here's the first page of posts (lots of pics). Read through to the end for the complete tale.

I am using a single layer of nylon carpeting padding felt (well rinsed before use). The majority of the soil was removed from the planted starts. Anything I had started in water was tucked into a pocket sans soil. Seeds were pressed into pinches of peat moss in tiny pockets.

My wall is fed from a 30 gallon aquarium with two small goldies and a pleco. I started using a 3 gallon bucket with water from one of our outdoor fish tanks. I add a small amount of potash(? - going from memory here . . . ) monthly. I top up the aquarium monthly so combine these tasks. I feed the fish every morning and have the aquarium filter set at 85.

So far my wall is doing awesomely well. I planted it in April. The geranium and begonia have bloomed. I'm holding out hope for the vining black eyed susan and coleus but will probably have to wait for spring.

I am planning a larger plant wall to go on the north wall of our sun porch (glass roof so won't be using the shade loving house plants in this wall). I was able to get some LDPE sheets destined for recycle from a local printer. They're about 3/8" thick and about 3'x4'. I'll screw them to a framework, sealing the seams and staple on my felt.

I like this felt. It feels dry except when the pump is running water through it. It may be best to use 2 layers of felt, but so far the wall is awesome with a single sheet.

elf at elfnori dot com

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great Greenwall Blog from Peter in Miami

Tons of videos and how to info. Great resource.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Added a Translator

While I don't get many visitors to this blog yet the ones I do get seem to be from all over the world. In order to make it easier for all of the non-english speakers I have added a Google translate tool to the page. Let me know if it helps you. Good luck to all the greenwall makers making our world a greener place.


Tina's Update

Here's the latest on Tina's wall. If anyone would like to contact Tina she can can be reached at tina at

Hi Matt,

I finally got to go to your blog- it’s fantastic! You are really making a difference in demystifying things for people. I so applaud you!

Here are some more photos.

I have adjusted the irrigation two more times. I will revisit tomorrow and see how things are going. Because our tube at the top is thinner I have been letting it run longer just twice a day. It has ended up being too wet still. So I have modified the 2nd watering to occur at night only 3 times a week. My maintenance person checked it today and said some parts were dry- but I was hoping for that a little because now I can start to find the perfect wet/dry correlation that will help the plant roots flourish (fingers crossed of course!). Some of the begonias (I used a very small handful of a rex variety) have already failed. They did not send me the exact variety I wanted, so I feel that if I was provided with the ‘nigra marga’ or ‘soli-mutata’ like I requested and have experience with we would have had a better chance at getting these to thrive. We are going to replace them with Maranta, which we had much success with in the rehabbed modular walls.

So far the detritus at the bottom of the pool has been a little bit of an issue for the client, so I purchased a submersible water pump that we will use to flush out the water once a month, thereby giving us a chance to mop up the bottom of the basin. I am thinking I will place a few larger river rocks in the basin to create a visual barrier to the soil. They will be easier to clean than a ton of tiny ones. On the smaller walls, the simple system seems to be the best- it really would have been overkill to put in a drain line…

Anyway- I’ll keep you posted as we go into further weeks and months!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gavin's Questions

Hi Gavin,

Thanks for your questions.

Did you just have one horizontal tube going across the very top of the garden to water the whole thing, or multiple tubes?

Just one tube on my wall at the top. I'd say one tube for every 8-10 vertical feet although I never measured it on a Blanc wall.

Did you use that regular flexible tubing and poke small holes in it, or was it a soaker hose type thing, or was it one where you had those drip emitters coming out?

I used regular flexible clear hose I bought from my local hardware store and then drilled holes in it. At one point the filter on the pump slipped and sucked up rotting leaves that clogged all the holes. I had to take the tube down to clean the holes. It was sort of a pain. Emitters might have made that process easier. Also emitters can control flow which was an issue at first with my tube. I had to balance pressure and gravity.

And the last question.. when you cut those slits, did you staple the front piece of felt to the back piece of felt to form a pocket, then put the dirt in then plant? Or did you just cut the slit, and put the plant in without dirt?

Great question. I really need to shoot a photo sequence of this but for now here's the description. We cut the slits in the first layer of felt (only the first layer gets cut), took the plant out of the small plastic pot, stuffed it in the slit, and then stapled around it to form a tight little pocket (about 4-5 staples).

Please keep your questions coming.