Create ‘living walls’ with vertical planters

Vertical planting is on the up

Vertical planting is on the up - Credit: Archant

Walls don’t have to be formed with brick, wood or stone and using foliage vertically is becoming more popular.

‘Living walls’, as they have been coined, can be made from different types of plants and are a functional attractive alternative to traditional ones.

They are used in large commercial settings, including hotels and at the Olympics site, and to provide huge green backdrops to retail areas such as at Westfield shopping centre in west London.

They also work well in smaller residential gardens and can breathe life into a town garden where space is at a premium.

Historically, green walls were achieved through wires or trellis which provided a structure for plants to climb up. This is still used for honeysuckle, clematis, roses and jasmine.

But now a new technique has taken hold with the introduction of the vertical green wall in recent years.

It involves planting perennials and shrubs in ‘pockets’, in what gardening expert Kate Gould says could be described as a vertical hanging basket to create a living wall.

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She explains: “By not using climbing plants that naturally want to climb and ramble in a very free form manner, a much more defined and designed scheme can be created. With careful selection of plants, a green wall is something that will look good all through the year.”

Basement light-wells can be transformed from dark dingy voids to bright green living spaces.

The walls can also feature internally with a palette of house plants, which is an idea that can be extended outside with exterior plants, according to the award-winning garden designer.

She says: “This works very well with modern glass extensions or large bi-fold doors. Shade tolerant walls often provide the best coverage and texture.”

Kate, who has more than a decade of experience improving gardens of all types and sizes, regularly exhibits at RHS Chelsea Flower Show - where she picked up three gold medals.

Kate recommends epimedium, ajuga, bergenia, tiarella, ferns and hosta as a good mix to start with in a green wall.

If you love colour, she suggests adding heuchera, viola and cyclamen to the basic scheme for patches of impact in the form of leaves or flowers.

If maintenance is not an issue, you could throw some wild bold colours in by putting begonia rex varieties in seasonally.

But don’t forget to water them! She adds: “All plants require water and green walls are no exception. As a designer, I will always specify the plants I require as well as the layout of the wall but this scheme is then passed over to a specialist to grow on, install, irrigate and maintain.

“A green wall is truly a thing of beauty and can extend the season of interest in a small town garden, right the way through the year - as well as into the hours of darkness, when the walls can be lit or designed to be combined with moving water. This creates a beautiful space in what might have been a very difficult space.”

For more information about Kate, visit