Living walls all have a lifespan and it’s important to be realistic about the expectations you have relating to plant life.
No matter how much care you take to maintain and care for your living wall, there are very few plants that can survive in a constricted space forever.
Most living wall structures feature some sort of container and even with the best care and maintenance, eventually root systems fill the space in the container and restrict the number of nutrients and water that can be absorbed through the root system, compromising the overall health of the plants.
There are, of course, things you can do to extend the life of the plants in your living wall. Selecting plants with shallow root systems means that these plants typically thrive in a living wall and can last for much longer than those plants with fast-growing roots that quickly fill up the space in a contained system.
Regular maintenance is an essential part of the process if you want to maximise the lifespan of your living wall.
Whether it’s a large, exterior living wall, or an interior space dividing living wall, without regular maintenance, your living wall can quickly start to suffer.
Watering is the most obvious maintenance that is required for all living walls and many systems include an automated irrigation system. Even when this is in place, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on the plants within the wall to ensure they are all getting enough water to thrive.
Beyond watering, it’s important to keep up with regular plant maintenance such as pruning, weeding and deadheading where relevant. Depending on the plants you have in your living wall, and whether your wall is located inside or out, you may be able to carry out maintenance yourself as part of a weekly/monthly/annual cycle, however, for major installations, it always pays to bring in the experts.
At SRS Group, we provide full maintenance programmes on an annual contract basis, so you can ensure your green wall or garden is always thriving.
Our bespoke maintenance programmes ensure the overall health and stable growing conditions that allow living walls to flourish and blossom all year round. Living walls provide many benefits, however, one of their key “selling points” is the aesthetic appeal so it’s important to keep your plants looking healthy through the seasons.
Selecting the right plants
Not all living walls are created equal. This means that just because a certain plant works in one living wall, it won’t necessarily thrive in another. There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the right plants for your living wall. Light, water, climate (warm/cold/wind) and position can all impact how well the plants in your living wall will thrive.
At SRS, we have over 15 years’ experience and our foliage team has delivered more than 200 thriving gardens on iconic buildings in both New Zealand and Australia. This expertise allows us to offer advice and assistance throughout the process, from design development to final delivery.
Our trained botanist will help you select the best plants for your project, matching plant options to the known growing environment of every garden type on a building. With a focus on providing ecologically sustainable gardens, our preference is to use native plants where possible.
How to extend the life of your living wall?
Even when you take good care of all the plants in your living wall, sometimes they just die of natural causes. We’ve already talked about the importance of watering the plants in your living wall and this is the biggest cause of plants dying in living walls, however, there are other measures you can take to prolong the life of your plants.
Fertilising is an important step to take to ensure the plants in your living wall are getting enough nutrients to thrive. Pruning and deadheading is also an important task that should be carried out regularly. Not only will this improve the aesthetics of your living wall, but it will also encourage growth.
Disease is something that should be carefully monitored. Plants can get a disease for a variety of reasons, however, vigilance is important and if you do see plants with a disease, these either need to be quickly treated if they can be saved or removed to stop them from infecting healthy plants.
With some type of plants, you can remove them periodically and cut back the roots to create more room within the container. When you replace the plants, add some fresh growing medium (compost) that will allow the roots to thrive. The end of winter is a great time to carry out maintenance like this when the plants are dormant but just as the spring growing season is about the begin.
Living walls can last a long time with the correct maintenance and a well-selected range of plants. Some plants will need replacing annually, however, others can last 10+ years when they are well cared for and selected for the container they will be living in.
Talk to the team at SRS today and we can advise you on living wall installation and plant selection. Find out more about all our Green Wall solutions including vertical gardens, green facades and arbours.