Find the Ideal Plants for Your Outdoor Living Wall

Discover the variety of plants and options you can choose from to build your outdoor living wall.

  • Note how the living wall forms a beautiful backdrop to the terrace. It could be masking an ugly boundary too.
    Photo by Marianne Majerus
  • "The Urban Gardener" by Matt James provides practical, step-by-step instructions to teach you how to use plants to define space, introduce color, form and texture and to provide shade and privacy.
    Cover courtesy Mitchell Beazley

In The Urban Gardener (Mitchell Beazley, 2014), garden designer and lecturer Matt James provides an approachable, practical guide to making the most of an urban garden, including 15 step-by-step projects. The following excerpt from the section, “Planting the Urban Garden,” lists ideal plants for every wall, keeping in mind the orientation of the wall and the climate. 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Urban Gardener.

Living walls

A green wall can either be a simple planting of climbers, wall shrubs or trained fruit, or a more complex engineered system, using all manner of high-tech gizmos from hydroponic mats to automated irrigation systems. On a smaller scale at home, specially designed modules or pockets filled with compost are ideal. They're easy to handle and quick to install (see How to Make a Living Wall). Maintenance is pretty straightforward too.

Importantly, always pick plants with the orientation of the wall in mind, as the climate can differ enormously (see Slideshow). Look after plants as you might any other container planting.

Plants for living walls

Prostrate, low-growing shrubs, ferns, perennials and grasses can all be grown in living walls, as long as they don't have invasive tendencies. It's also possible to add fruit and vegetables for a display that really is good enough to eat!

Annuals, perennials & grasses

Sunny walls (more than half a day of summer sun)

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