Introduce a living wall into your interior decor

By Joan Salmon

Appreciating all things beautiful is not about to stop and in as far as homes are concerned, there is no stopping people from imagining and creating. With the craze of all things natural, people are looking for how to have more of the outside inside. That craze is common among those staying in urban areas where there is a lot of brick and mortar yet less greenery. While some may grow a few plants indoors or have a kitchen garden, others take it a notch higher by having a living wall.
Also called a vertical garden, this interior decor aspect is a collection of wall-mounted plants which will breathe life into whichever space it is put, not to mention make it cozier. Although previously found outdoors, these walls are now becoming part of the interior of several houses.

Placement
Edmund Ssesanga, an interior designer at Furniture Fittings, says you can have this wall in your bathroom to give you an outdoor or jungle appeal.
“The kitchen can also have it and here, you may plant herbs and spices that will add life to your cooking. Other areas that can have this wall include the stairwell, pool, and, living room. Even a minimalist can enjoy it by putting it on the dividing wall of two rooms,” he says.
However, he says these walls should not be in the bedroom as they take in oxygen during the night. That said, there is no specific size for this wall as it is customised to your space and liking. “For example, it could be an entire wall or even a small herb wall garden,” he mentions.

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Ideal plants
A range of herbaceous perennials, grasses, small shrubs, herbs and even fruit and vegetables can be used.

Benefits
Enid Bitecherezo, a gardener, says having plants inside your house purifies your air quality as some plants are air purifiers.
“You just have to pick those plants that are known to have purification qualities for your wall,” she shares. She adds that the plants also help in stabilising the humidity levels in your house, leaving the air cool.

Making a vertical garden
When creating an indoor living wall or a vertical garden, Ssesanga shares how to go about it:

Choose your space
Seeing that it is indoors, start by making a customised wooden wall. Apart from allowing you the freedom to move it from place to place, if you so wish, the frame or ‘wall’ gives you room to make provision for potters that will carry the plants.
But before you pick the space, ensure the wall in mind can carry the weight of the plants, soil and water. There is also need to consider the amount of sunshine that reaches the wall as it will dictate the plant type you pick.

Make measurements
Using a pencil and a measuring tape, mark dimensions on the wall of your choice. Use these to make the frame(s) you need. You will need enough wood, plastic sheeting and a plant friendly fabric. When making the measurements, put in mind the size of the pots.

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Screw in the planters
With an electric or rechargeable screwdriver and screws, start screwing the planters to the frame spaces starting from the bottom.

Add the plants
Fill the planters with the plants you have chosen. You may place the plant pots directly into the planters or remove the plants from their pots into the planters. But if you envision changing the plants in the near future, placing the pots into the planters will be ideal.

Watering
These plants must be watered at least once a week, seeing that they are indoors. However, some plants such as succulents may never seem dry, so you need to use your finger to feel the soil. If it feels dry, then the plants need watering. Nonetheless, avoid overwatering them as it harms them. Hence, spraying the water is ideal, as it also does away with dripping.

Considerations
There are several things to have in mind and Aloysious Nangosha, an interior designer shares these:
Remember to attach a waterproof sheet before hanging the frame to avoid water from dampening the wall.
To keep your wall lush, ensure that the plants are well watered. Their need for water varies with the temperatures.
Different plants have different sunshine needs. For example, succulents need a good amount of sunlight to grow well. So you will want to place them on a wall that receives at least six hours of direct sunshine. However, others such as orchids need minimal sunshine. Therefore, consider sunshine levels when picking a wall.

If you are the kind that is barely at home or desires a low maintenance wall, going for plants such as ferns, and succulents is ideal as they are low maintenance plants. However, ferns and other foliage plants need trimming to cut off the dried or untidy leaves.
Endeavour to put the living wall in a room with optimum air circulation so that more air in the home is purified. That said, plants that are great filters such as snake plants (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue) are great for better results.

To keep everything natural, in case of pests, use homemade pesticides such as a mixture of water and liquid soap that you can spray on the invaders. Add six drops of liquid soap to half a litre of water. The mixture is sprayed on the leaves. It is not to be poured in the soil as that would not be good for the plant.
Nangosha says garlic or chilli is great to get rid of pests but because it is indoors, we cannot use them owing to smell and irritation respectively.

Dos and don’ts
While some things will work, others will not and here is what you need to remember:

Work with what you have
It is important to assess the space you have to work with. However, for a newbie in gardening, starting small is better.
“For example, a picture frame garden as it requires less maintenance and will orient you about vertical gardening. Then, you can know what does or does not work,” Ssesanga advises.

Do not make things hard
While you can get several things custom-made for you such as the frames, it is infuriating when things are not falling in place. To avoid that, Ssesanga says start small and see how things work out rather than trying to cover an entire wall and make costly mistakes.

Put care into plant picking
There are several factors that come into play when picking plants. “Therefore, having your heart set on certain plants yet they cannot survive given the conditions of your home is only piling unnecessary heartache on yourself,” Nangosha says.
He adds that there are several plants to choose from so be flexible and research about what will thrive in your home.
For the safety of your wall, he advises that one goes for plants with shallow roots such as herbs and ferns and avoid those that grow to become large and heavy as they may compromise your wall.

Not all soil types work
You may think that as long as it is black soil your plants will thrive, however, that is a sure start to a failing vertical garden. “It is important to do optimal research on what your choice plants need.
Another thing to note is that a vertical garden is different from others as soil with good drainage is necessary to avoid moulding plants. Therefore, putting some gravel at the bottom of the pot is important,” Nangosha says.

Never neglect them
Even when it is indoors, caring for your vertical garden is important. Find out what your plants need and provide it. For example, watch out for pests, infections, and the like.

Check the watering
With the need to keep the garden lash, one may over water. “However, it is not safe.
So to fix the issue and avoid damage to your plants and frame, leave buckets beneath the garden at the start until you figure out the exact amount of water they need,” Ssesanga advises.

jsalmon@ug.nationmedia.com

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