Living Plant Wall Maintenance

Living Plant Wall Maintenance [Article]

What’s Involved and What it Costs

When working on Live Wall projects, one of the big questions we get time after time is how maintenance is done and what is the cost.

Green Oasis has been caring for live walls for over a decade – we are pleased to share what we have learned along the way. One important point we have learned along the way is that there is no such thing as a maintenance-free Live Plant Wall. While some designs need more care than others, all need some level of care.

In the following paragraphs, I include what you can expect typical maintenance to include; however, please keep in mind that every project is different and that this is impossible to answer absolutely in this outline.

What is involved in maintaining a Live Plant Wall? This can be made quite simple with a properly designed system and properly selected plant material. Below are the main points of live wall maintenance.
living plant wall
Irrigation: There are multiple ways to handle this; the most straightforward method is an automatic irrigation system which will need seasonal balancing. For some projects, this is not an option, the next best method is a system that connects to a mobile water cart. Lastly, manual watering is an option but can be time-consuming.

Pest scouting: This takes experience, but when done regularly and professionally small problems can be nipped at the start and prevent large infestations.

Dusting/ Cleaning: – this applies mainly to interior live walls where rain, nature’s cleaning program, isn’t present. The frequency of this depends on the building and the air filtration system; with some, an annual cleaning is sufficient, and with others, monthly is required.
Feeding/ Fertilizing: All living things need some amount of feed to thrive and plants are no exception. Because the plants are not in their natural habitat, a well-balanced fertilizer with the necessary trace elements is important.

Soil-based growing mediums are simpler to manage the fertilizing function than hydroponic systems for a number of reasons. Hydroponic systems do not have the ability to retain the feed requiring lighter amounts of fertilizer more often. Also, hydroponic systems often recirculate the irrigation which can cause a build-up of minerals that the plants don’t absorb causing a knock-on effect of putting the PH out of balance. These are another few reasons we won’t sell hydroponic live wall systems.

Pruning: Typically done twice a year in spring and fall and often done while dusting and cleaning the plants. Pruning plants is most often good for the plants, promoting new growth and keeping the plant tight.

Drainage cleanout: This is a prevention measure – some systems like the POD Live Wall hardly need this while, other more open systems like the standard tray system often collect leaves and debris and will need this regularly.
Plant Replacements: This is largely dependent on the plant palette chosen. If seasonal color change is chosen this will be a big factor in the cost.

It should be clearly defined who will be paying for plant replacements, especially if you are . Often, with interior walls where conditions are climate controlled, replacements are included. With exterior they are not typically included and may add additional costs.

Maintenance frequency will vary depending on the wall location – we recommend a bi-weekly service interval for the first months while the irrigation timing is set-up and established.

Once this is set, a monthly maintenance schedule is typically used. What is done on each visit will vary with the season. On interior walls that do not have an automatic irrigation system, a bi-weekly schedule is often required.

It is our recommendation that you hire a professional to carry out the live wall maintenance. This will not only save you the distraction of stopping your ordinary work to complete the maintenance, but a professional will be able to spot any trouble early and keep your wall always looking optimal.

The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies to live plant wall maintenance.
The cost of maintaining a wall has many components that affect the final price. The largest cost component is labor (this can be reduced with automatic irrigation, a well designed live wall system and a properly selected plant palette).

As well as labor, on some walls, there is access equipment needed if the wall is high or difficult. The other costs would be plant replacements, a blooming plant rotation (an optional expense that depends on design), and horticulture supplies like fertilizer.

As a rough rule of thumb for maintenance costs, we typically use a number between $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot per month. Again, there are a lot of varied components. Live Plant Walls make such beautiful statements and have such positive benefits it doesn’t make sense to skimp on maintenance and have a less than a stunning wall.

I trust this article has been helpful, it is our policy at Green Oasis to transparently answer any question or concern you may have. If there is anything I missed, please email us at info@greenoasis.com and one of our team would enjoy answering any questions you may have.

Live Green Walls are a fantastic tool to improve an urban space – I truly trust that you too get to experience the magic a plant wall can make!

Thank you for your time!

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Interested in a Living Plant Wall for your projects? Get a Free 15 Minute Consultation from one of our Project Specialists. Click below to get started!

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