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 plantwalldesign.com. 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.