Green Oasis Living Plant Wall Irrigation blog header

How to Water a Living Plant Wall

How to Water a Living Plant Wall

Irrigation Options

Living Walls are truly stunning, however, they do require care. One of the main points of care is irrigation or watering.

Thankfully, there are a lot of options when it comes to plant wall irrigation. In this article, we will explain the common options and when they are used.

Green Oasis has been installing and maintaining living walls since 2008 and we’ve seen many different success stories that we will share with you today. We promote natural soil based live wall systems for many reasons, so that is what will be discussed here.
Green walls, types of green walls, living plant walls
Peninsula Living Walls in San Antonio, TX

The Different Systems

You must remember that living walls are typically a large mass of many plants and have a large amount of exposure which means irrigation will happen often if you are in a high light or exterior location. Generally, not a lot of water in each cycle is used, and because you can easily calculate how much water will be needed, very little water is wasted. So, with this premise, irrigation is an important consideration when designing a wall. The main irrigation options are:
  • AUTOMATIC IRRIGATION with drain-connected overflow.
  • RECIRCULATING IRRIGATION with tanks and Recirculating Pump.
  • Irrigation connected to the BUILDING WATER SUPPLY, manually turned on.
  • Irrigation supplied manually from a MOBILE WATER TANK.
  • MANUAL, hand watering
Automatic irrigation cabinet
Automatic Irrigation System inside Metal Cabinet

Automatic Irrigation

Automatic irrigation with drain-connected overflow. On larger walls this is the most common successful and common option. Different walls have different configurations but they all would begin from either the building water supply or rainwater capture tank.

The water runs through a filter, a simple pressure regulator, a fertilizer injector, a flow meter (optional), a control value and finally a drip emitter at the top of the wall. Any runoff would then flow to the building drain.
Screen Shot 2022 12 09 at 3.34.26 PM
Green Oasis Living Plant Wall Irrigation illustrations2

Recirculating Irrigation

Recirculating irrigation with tanks and recirculating pump. This is just like the above method with the addition of catchment tanks below the wall which collects and then recirculates the water. At Green Oasis we discourage this method.

The challenges are: the big issue of mineral build-up over time, a float value that can get stuck on or off with big consequences, maintenance issues of a pump, and finally the build-up of fertilizer salts that often throw the Ph level of the water off, harming the plants. There are occasions where this system is the best option but most often there are better solutions.
Green Oasis Living Plant Wall Irrigation illustrations manual

Building Water Supply Connection (Manual)

Irrigation connected to the building water supply, manually turned on.

This is commonly used on interior walls when the concern of running water with no human supervision is an issue. The system is designed the same, except instead of a control value, you have a manual valve.

When the horticulturist is on-site caring for the plants, they run the irrigation while they are caring for the plants.
mobile watering tank

Mobile Water Tank

Irrigation supplied manually from a mobile water tank. Often used when plant walls are added to a space that does not have a water source nearby.

The system involves the maintenance tech filling a water tank at a nearby water source and then wheeling it to the wall and then pumping it through the irrigation channels to the plants.

Not as efficient as the other options but on interior walls this would only typically happen every 2-3 weeks.
Green Oasis Living Plant Wall Irrigation illustrations4

Manual Hand Watering

This is typically done on very small walls with not many plants. This is not practical for exterior walls however on interior walls, this does work.
living plant wall

Conclusion

In conclusion, in most spaces there are ways to irrigate efficiently. A living wall professional will assist you in designing a system that will work well. Remember, that a little extra effort and money spent on a correct set-up will repay you many times over the course of many waterings in the life of the wall.

If you are considering a live wall, get in touch, our team would love to help you improve your space – you can’t beat nature in improving urban spaces!

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