We’re always looking for ways to make the most of our outdoor spaces. Living wall ideas allow you to embrace greenery on your vertical exterior spaces to create a lush wall of foliage.
As well as adding a personal, unique touch to your space, this planting style can fit in nearly anywhere. Whatever type of garden ideas you have – from a small courtyard to large lawn, living walls will make the most of your space.
‘A living wall is a great way to introduce greenery into your home or garden and refresh a space, creating a modern and sophisticated look that will add interest and colour’ says Marcus Eyles, Head of Horticulture at Dobbies.
Living wall ideas for gardens
Living walls are one of the hottest gardening trends to emerge in recent years, increasingly making their way into residential gardens.
Systems can range from something as simple as plant pots hung on the vertical frame, to highly sophisticated modular, hydroponic panels from which water and nutrients are delivered and electronically monitored.
1. Frame your foliage
While many living wall ideas take up large swathes of space – a framing technique will help even the smallest amount of greenery have impact. This is a great solution for smaller spaces, but also wrks well to help break up larger walls.
Pick a frame which contrasts with the wall behind to make sure the plants pop against the colour contrast,
2. Switch it up with ease
If you tend to change your mind easily, or like to keep things easy, consider an ad hoc solution like a trellis. Instead of a living wall structure, simply place large plants below and hang pots of foliage and flowers from the brackets for a great example of easy garden ideas.
This is an especially good idea if you tend to prefer flowers over foliage. In this case you can switch out the pots with seasonal flowers as and when required.
3. Add delicate flowers for colour and texture
While most living wall ideas heavily lean into foliage, a few floral details won’t go amiss. Choose delicate blooms to add interest, texture and even colour, without overly distracting the eye.
Look to flowers like Vinca minor (lesser periwinkle) and Saxifraga x urbium (London pride). These lighter, more rambling flowers will also cope with the vertical planting method better than other types.
4. Cheat it with a tiled mural
If you love the look of a living wall, but don’t have the time to keep up maintenance, choose another option. Create a mural using botanical tiles to evoke the illusion of plants and foliage on your exterior walls.
Add some climbing plants to your outdoor wall decor ideas and you’ll even create a 3-D effect without fully committing to a true living wall.
5. Create continuity with raised beds
If you choose to have a small section of living wall, consider how to plan a garden to make sure the rest of the space ties in. Raised beds can be planted with similar or complementary foliage to the walls. The line will be slightly blurred between where the living wall ends and the beds begin, helping to create a sense of cohesion.
6. Choose a different kind of living wall
Plants aren’t, of course, the only thing living in a garden. Support bees and bugs by including a vertical insect hotel to provide them with places to live. Your garden will thank you, too, as your flowers will be prime pollination targets from our buzzy friends.
7. Surround a courtyard with a vertical garden
Eve the smallest of outdoor spaces can accommodate a living wall. In fact for some small garden ideas it can help to make the space feel more ambient, with a feeling of being surrounded by nature. Vertical planting is favourable for concealing brick walls or enclosing fences that make an already compact space feel all the more oppressive.
The softness of planting helps to make a limited outdoor space feel enrich and closer to nature. Even a tiny balcony garden idea can feel more like a lush plot with a thriving living wall.
8. Welcome wild planting
Keep the look loose and on-trend for wild meadow planting by using unexpected plant species. Use an abundance of long grasses to add depth, while embracing climbing ivy to provide a thorough coverage.
Foliage plants such as heucheras and ferns should be tidied up by snipping off tatty leaves, as needed. Annuals, in particular, benefit from a liquid feed every couple of weeks in summer, although any display that’s in place for any length of time will need feeding to keep it looking its best.
9. Create a colourful planting scheme
Image Credit: Amy Cutmore
Incorporate colourful bedding plants to ensure your living wall is bursting with colour. When choosing flowering plants, as always, you’ll need to deadhead flowers to encourage new blooms later in the season and to keep the wall looking its best.
If you’re attaching your green wall to the side of a house, Dobbies recommend attaching a waterproof membrane to the wall before you begin, to prevent damp issues.
10. Take the hard work out with ready-made panels
This planting trend can be brought to life in our own homes with a helping hand of pre-planted modular panels. This easy gardening idea allows walls to look blooming lovely with minimal effort.
‘The Living Wall Planters can be easily fitted onto any solid area’ explains Marcus from Dobbies. ‘The walls can be built indoors or out, can be as large or small as you like, meaning it can be tailored to suit the size of your space.’
11. Keep it leafy with ferns and evergreen foliage
Soften hard landscaping and exterior walls with a richly planted vertical garden. Pre-planted modular panels covered with assorted greenery including fern and other leaf based plants.
The living plant wall needs watering around every two- three days depending on climate (unless you’ve chosen to add an automatic irrigation system), more in summer – check by sticking a finger into the soil to see if the compost is dry.
12. Plant a living gallery wall
Break with tradition and create a gallery wall outside by hanging plants in pots and frames – a brilliant budget garden idea to boost an outdoor space without breaking the bank!. This quirky approach to a living wall idea involves less gardening expertise and therefore requires less maintenance.
To recreate the look simply hang an assortment of planters, securely to one wall, to elevate your planting.
13. Encourage climbing plants to get the look
Faux the look with a climbing plant idea to provide the lush coverage of walls without the need to put in an irrigation system. You simply need one well supported climber to establish itself and take over a whole.
‘Supports for the climber will need to be placed before planting’ advises Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express. ‘Planting near a wall or fence can create a ‘rain shadow’, which means that rain does not reach plants’ roots.’ So be sure to water thoroughly, as you would any living wall.
14. Take the look indoors
Scaled down but still as stylish for indoors this characterful grey living room idea features a spectacular living wall of sorts. A striking gold frame is used to encapsulate two planters overflowing with lush ferns, to add a touch of nature beauty to the decor. Get creative and make your own by attaching wall planters to a MDF backboard then framing it.
You can create a living wall using a range of different systems, including wall planters where irrigated troughs are attached to walls; a live panel modular system where plants placed in small cups root into a mat behind or a panel of planting pockets, that is hung on a wall and simply topped up with water once a month.
How to make a living plant wall
1. Choose your space
You can build a living plant wall on any solid wall or fence – build straight on to the side of your house, a garden fence or even a sturdy shed. For indoors a custom made wooden wall allows you the freedom to move it from room to room.
Once you’ve chosen a structurally sound wall or fence, simply screw in rows of 2in BY 1in treated battens 38cm apart to fill the space. Checking with a spirit level as you go, to make sure they’re straight.
2. Screw in the planters
Using an electric screwdriver and working from the bottom up, attach the plastic planters to the battens. Click and lock the planters into each other and build up your wall in staggered rows.
3. Get watering
Starting at the top, water your wall with a hose or watering can. The reservoir system is designed to keep plants watered for up to two weeks.
4. Green up your wall
Fill the planters with your chosen plants using 12-13cm pots. Either remove the plants from their pots and plant them straight into the planters. Alternatively to make changing the scheme really easy, place the pot directly into each planter – making sure the pot touches the reservoir base.
What plants should I choose for a living wall?
A range of herbaceous perennials, grasses, small shrubs, herbs and even fruit and vegetables can be used. Try including scented plants, seasonal flowers and bulbs. Seek advice from your local garden nursery about plants that will suit the aspect and microclimate of the wall on which they will be grown.
Plants to create a living wall:
- Adiantum (maidenhair fern)
- Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (sedge)
- Fragaria ‘Mara des Bois’ (strawberry)
- Galanthus (snowdrop)
- Heuchera ‘Purple Petticoats’
- Liriope muscari (lilyturf)
- Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese spurge)
- Pelargonium peltatum (ivy-leaved geranium)
- Saxifraga x urbium (London pride)
- Tiarella cordifolia (foam flower)
- Vinca minor (lesser periwinkle)