Such systems are varied. There are simple trays and modules - usually supplied from the nursery ready-planted - that are attached to walls with metal bands or fitted into place using battening on the wall. An example of such a system is the VertiGarden module, which comes with its own irrigation system and wall fixings.
For large areas, a framework is built, forming a structure similar to an empty bookcase, into which trays and modules of pre-grown plants are inserted.
A variation on this module theme is the fabric pocket - like the Woolypocket. This felt-like module is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and is designed to be hung on the wall.
A system that impresses me is the Easiwall Pro, supplied in the UK by Treebox. The components of the system are made from recycled plastic materials and simply slot together to give a rigid structure of V-shaped troughs in which the plants are grown. The structure can be fitted via battens to the wall, giving any size of living wall required. The system can be equipped with an irrigation system to ensure all troughs are fed with water and nutrients as required.
Whatever system you opt for, it is important to consider waterproofing between the wall and the living wall, especially if the system is cladding the exterior wall of a house or office. It is also essential to think about how the planting will be maintained, particularly in terms of irrigation.
Other leading names associated with living walls include BinFen, Scotscape, Aldingbourne Nurseries, Mobilane, Optigreen and BioTecture. For future reference, irrigation company Watermatic is establishing a Green Wall Centre in Hertfordshire to compare the function, performance and water use of different systems.
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Sally Drury has been reporting on product developments and testing kit for 28 years. The advice given in this helpline is independent.