Monday, April 22, 2013


When we moved into our home, we knew we had a lot of gardening ahead of us. In a bid to save water, the previous owners had killed most of the plants and aggressive ivy had finished off the rest.  In a way, this was a blessing as we could start from scratch, planting California natives and other drought tolerant plants, like the fynbos of my native South Africa.  But our favorite gardening project to date has been a living wall.  For years we had stared at a large lattice structure, covered with a few scraggly vines, which separated our yard from the neighbours.  We finally hit on the idea of converting it to a living wall that, when planted with succulents, would not only provide us with more privacy but would also be drought tolerant.  Of course, buying enough succulents to cover 64 square feet would have cost a fortune.  Instead, we asked neighbors, trimmed hedges and cut some invasive succulents that had overgrown street signs.

23  2x1x8 pine beams
2 rolls of 3 x 50 ft weed blocker
½ gallon of outdoor paint
nail and staple gun
1½" nails
5/16" staples
5 cubic feet potting soil/compost mix
a variety of succulents

Step 1:
Remove the inner lattice. The inner dimensions of our frame measured 8x8 ft.

Step 2:
Insert two upright 1x2’s approximately 31” apart into the frame.  Use a nail gun to secure them to the frame. 

Step 3:
Insert horizontal 1x2 beams that will hold the plants.  The beams were set 2 ¾” apart and nailed into the frame and the uprights.
Step 4:
Paint the frame and beams.

Step 5:
We created pockets for our plants using Jamie Spooner’s method found here. Jamie has great diagrams of how this is done, so please visit his site for more details.
We altered our pockets to fit smaller plants.  Our edge folds were approximately 2¼” on either side and our pockets were approximately 10” deep.   

Step 6:
Mix compost and potting soil and fill the pockets.
Step 7:
Decide on a design (probably the hardest part) and plant succulents.

Step 8:
Use a hose to water your newly planted garden.  Our living wall is beneath an old oak tree therefore we only need to water it once a week.

 I hope this tutorial has inspired you to tackle a living wall yourselves.  Have fun! Nicole