Live Walls


Live Walls

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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I love plants. I cannot imagine an outdoor space without plants. However, despite that love of plants, I am no gardener.

Despite being “Miss Jill Of All Trades”, gardening is not one of those trades.

I am the first to declare that I have more of a 'GANGreen' thumb than a green thumb… a murderer of orchids, in spite of my love of them. Still, despite my shortcomings in the area of gardening, I can certainly conceptualise, and trust the pros and gardening lovers, to execute.

The initial vision for this pool deck and wall was to create a modern tiered waterfall on the wall, flowing into an infinity plunge pool, that would then cascade into the existing swimming pool. A very ambitious undertaking that would mean breaching the existing pool structure that was in fact sound, and run the risk of causing leaks and possibly compromising the structural integrity of the swimming pool, in the end. So, it was back to the drawing board.

This big, bare wall just needed life. And what is more alive, for the outdoors, than plants? So I had the very ambitious idea of creating a live wall/living wall/green wall, flanking a stone wall which acted as the backdrop for a bench; a seating area by the pool.

I had to carefully consider that for a space that gets a lot of direct sunlight for most of the day, it was very important that the plants selected for the wall be able to tolerate sunlight all day. S0 here I called in the experts and enlisted help finding just what I needed.

The plants used were: asparagus ferns, pothos, sansevieria, foxtail ferns, alternanthera and liriope.

Live walls typically are just that: live, vertical gardens. It is typically a construct of pipes, soil, irrigation, the plants are planted directly into soil and are watered through a timed system. I knew that even though it wasn't going to be my responsibility to maintain the garden, I wasn't sure I wanted to burden the clients with that maintenance, so I approached it as if it were mine… individually potted plants, of varying textures and shades, arranged in a cluster of rows, that would grow in a way to eventually hide the pots in which they are planted. If a plant burned out or died, that was an easy fix; just replace it, without affecting any other plant in the cluster.

At this point I had to figure out how to hang potted plants vertically against a wall.


1. Hanging baskets, found at a gardening store (Evergrow Garden Centre).

2. Pots that can fit inside them.

3. Create a lattice, evenly spaced, on which to hang pots. Note, the wood had to be suitable for outdoor use and long exposure to sunlight and water, so IPE was the wood used. The same wood was used to create the bench below the stone wall.

Watering the plants is therefore a breeze, simply turn the hose on the wall every other day and you're done. But where would this water run off to? Easy solution: At the base of the wall was an open space, just enough for us to create a flower bed below, filled with more asparagus ferns.

The wall had to be a real focal point, so I added lights at the top to wash it with soft lights at night. Seat, back and decorative cushions can be put out as needed to soften the space for the family and to entertain guests.

The wall turned out beautifully, and is the first thing you see when you approach the pool deck and gazebo of this beautiful home. It isn't at all overwhelming and difficult to maintain and is fairly easy to accomplish on your own.

I thank these clients for trusting me with this project… it actually made a full-time gardener out of her and the space, and the surrounding gardens are truly magnificent.

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