Outdoor Vertical Garden

Vertical Garden Buyers Guide

Vistafolia Vertical Garden System

Vertical gardens create new green spaces, especially in densely-populated urban environments where both greenery and land are a premium. While widely used as decorative screening for featureless or unattractive walls, the real ingenuity of a vertical garden is its optimised use of space and sunlight. Plants receive more light from a vertical surface, where energy can be absorbed from the side, not just the top, as in horizontal placement. For farming, this growing technique can increase crop yields while managing limited space. However, for creating pleasing green vistas, the resources needed to achieve verdant growth may be too costly. Especially in areas with low natural light, an artificial vertical garden with beautiful, ultra-realistic foliage can be more efficient in providing the luxuriant greenery to brighten up a tired or dull setting.

Strictly speaking, a vertical garden is a system for supporting the growth of plants on a vertical surface for the efficient use of existing space. Increasing agricultural production in urban environments is a prime reason for employing this technique, to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs. Ornamental plant displays are now very popular, for both commercial and residential spaces, and have become synonymous in the public mind with vertical gardens.

Whether fashion or function, living vertical gardens don’t just ‘happen’. The only instant in the process of constructing a vertical garden is probably the idea of putting up one. All the rest is pure hard work, from site assessment to the maintenance needed for the entire life of the vertical garden. A complete understanding of the commitment needed to put up and maintain a living vertical garden is a must before deciding on building one. Similarly, awareness of the benefits of artificial vertical gardens is useful prior to embarking on a living vertical garden project.

How Does Your Garden Grow Up?

Design and growing solutions for living vertical gardens vary, from DIY to sophisticated vertical garden systems involving steel structures with modular panels (or pockets) filled with substrate (growing medium). The growing media can include soil, compost and potting minerals such as perlite and vermiculite. Planting containers can be just about anything – from pots, troughs, sacks, cans, bottles or boxes. Structures range from racks, ladders, tubes, beams or any construction that can support pre-vegetated panels.

Supporting structures for climbers (the ‘easiest’ vertical garden) include pergolas, trellises and latticework, and may be made of metal or net. More sophisticated modular systems are usually composed of stainless steel panels, with a wall frame of wood or stainless steel. Vertical garden systems with flowerpots, meanwhile, feature post and lintel stainless steel technology. Botanist and vertical garden pioneer Patrick Blanc uses a framework with PVC sheet, polypropylene foil and felt, his water-retaining substitute for soil. While lightweight, the necessary circulation mechanism for this structure is a metal frame with pipes (from either aluminum, galvanised or stainless steel) in a rectangular grid design. The PVC panels are attached to the metal pipes to create an aeration gap.

The choice of planting is the third critical aspect of vertical garden design and construction. Before any species can be selected, factors pertaining to wall location and orientation should be studied. Walls that face south are recognised as best for plant growth. The amount of shade and sunlight is critical to the success of the planting scheme, as is the climate and humidity. The rule of thumb is to select plants that survive in a more northern climate than that of the proposed vertical garden’s. Plants chosen should be able to tolerate the wall conditions, do not droop at certain elevations (plants positioned around eight feet or higher will likely droop, smothering the planting underneath, and will have to be trimmed) and can be coaxed to grow in a specific direction.

Just trying to keep these three basic components in mind –structure, growing media, planting — suggests a project of considerable complexity.

Weight Load, Waterproofing and Drainage

There are many other considerations to keep in mind when building a living vertical garden. First of which is the structural integrity of the wall surface to which the frames and planting panels are attached. Accounting for water retention, a vertical garden can weigh as much as 40 pounds per square foot, a considerable load for weakened or old walls. The weight-load capacity of the wall will determine the living wall system that can be sustained (whether modular or fixed frame hydroponics, vertical displays with pots or trays on a frame, trellised system, among others), the planting medium, the planting scheme and the irrigation and system design.

Another important element is waterproofing, to prevent damage to the existing structure caused by moisture and fertiliser salts as well as the formation of moulds. An air gap between the wall surface and the vertical garden system effectively will stop the movement of water between the two structures, but this will eat up additional space for the project. Waterproofing membranes are often employed instead, but care must be taken that these comply with building standards.

Drainage is a very important component for the sustainability of a vertical garden and surrounding environment. Excess water from irrigation can be filtered through the building’s drainage system although more ecologically-minded projects use recycled water. Runoff is a fact whenever water travels down a vertical surface, and must be captured at the base to prevent unsightly and unsafe wet floor surfaces. Improperly drained green walls can damage the vertical garden and the host surface. To guard against waterlogging, some systems control-drip water at prescribed times, with nutrients also added to the water. This can be a complicated, costly mechanism that likewise adds to the weight of the vertical garden.

A closed drainage system, where water is collected and recycled, can have complications, too. Recycled water can easily transmit plant disease, and may need ultra-violet sanitation. The use of greywater (household wastewater, except from toilets) can also cause unpleasant odours and does require a bit more effort than clean water.

Planting Media and Irrigation

The issue of gravity inevitably comes up when considering the choice of planting medium. Obviously, the substrate or planting medium has to be lightweight to take some load off the wall. Planting media should also have high water- and nutrient-retention capacities for the health of the plants, good porosity and a neutral pH.

Each type of growing medium also has disadvantages that cannot be easily overlooked. Loose medium, the soil-in-the-bag type, needs to be replaced at least once a year on exterior placements and at least once every two years on interior vertical gardens. Soil also tends to be lost through the life of the vertical garden, and tending the system can be quite messy. Mat media systems, which are often made of felt mats, are easier to handle but their thin layers mean that certain plant roots will be too active to manage in the long run and will grow out and prevent water flow. The affected mats will then have to be cut out and replaced with new mats. The best alternative, structural media grown in pre-defined blocks, can be used for more than a decade without replacing and are easily handled. However, they are quite expensive to install.

Irrigation is a complex process that has to be executed well for a living vertical garden to thrive. One will have to consider the supply of water, the delivery system, and the interactions between planting media types and water.

Sophisticated, automated systems are employed for large vertical garden projects or those in high-visibility locations. These systems can automatically regulate the volume and frequency of watering, monitor substrate moisture levels, pH and nutrient levels. For hydroponic systems, fertiliser in controlled doses is automatically injected into the irrigation flow. It has to be said that effective handling of such fertigation systems is a specialised skill, as one has to continually monitor and adjust pH levels, water hardness and dissolved salts. Most vertical gardens make use of a sensor-controlled, drip-irrigation mechanism that minimises water use.

Most vertical garden systems also use thin, soilless planting media that is prone to drying out, as the plants have no access to subsurface water, unlike ground plants.

Ventilation, Lighting and Microclimate

For the health of the plants, a vertical garden must have good ventilation, which aids both transpiration and photosynthesis by dissipating moisture. Similarly, interior vertical gardens should be positioned away from drafts of hot or cold air that damage plants. The vertical garden also should not be adjacent to windows and doors, which generate plant-damaging heat and cold radiation.

When natural light levels are low, additional lighting for indoor placements is needed. LEDS, which are long-lasting and create little or no heat, can be quite costly. Using all natural light may require sophisticated equipment such as a special glass with an orange tint that deflects UV rays while allowing full-spectrum light in for photosynthesis.

When creating an external vertical garden, it is very important to analyse minutely the climate conditions that will affect the planting. An understanding of air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, solar radiation, cloud cover and monthly precipitation will enable optimal plant selection. For example, the amount of sunlight received varies in different geographic zones. London receives relatively low levels of sunshine daily than other locations which can be a boon to plants, as too much solar radiation can be destructive.

The precipitation level in a particular locale, as well as the amount of rainfall, are deciding factors for plant choice as well as how to irrigate. Wind speed also has to be considered. Windswept conditions for roof terrace vertical gardens are a complicating factor. Plants can normally withstand wind speeds of up to 4.4 meters per second.

External Factors

There are also external, environmental considerations that have nothing to do with the vertical garden per se, but closely impact its sustainability or are affected by it.

Vertical gardens generate humidity and water that somehow drips or gets to the surrounding areas and may affect the finishes of the adjacent elements or structures.

Because of the high-maintenance needed to sustain a vertical garden, additional storage space must be allotted for the maintenance equipment, which needs to be on hand for easy access by the maintenance managers. For huge vertical gardens, provisions may include ladders and lift systems to access hard-to-reach areas.

Pruning the plants likewise needs to be undertaken with care and understanding of the needs of the vertical garden system. There should be a balance between plant size and root growth.

Just To Illustrate: A DIY Project

Clearly, a living vertical garden is a huge project that should never be taken up on a whim. Even the simplest, do-it-yourself projects are never easy as factors such as irrigation and lighting are complicated in themselves.

Just to illustrate the amount of effort it takes to create even a simple living vertical garden, here is a DIY guide from Popular Mechanics for a simple vertical garden:

  • After choosing a wall, build the frame, a three-layer ‘sandwich’ of frame, plastic sheeting and fabric. It is advisable to construct the entire structure before hanging it on the wall, so it can be easily take down as well. To build a frame, the magazine suggests using a ¾-inch PVC pipe, elbows and four-way joints. It is not recommended to use metal because of the weight, or wood that requires pressure-treating to prevent moisture rot.
  • The plastic sheeting is then attached to the frame. The plastic serves as protective layer and backing for the fabric layer, and will also keep water off the wall. It is recommended to use PVC sheets.
  • The next step is to attach the fabric layer. The fabric layer is the bedding for the planting, and will hold the water for them. The fabric used for this particular DIY vertical garden is basic felt carpet padding, although the magazine advises that just about any fabric that can retain water without rotting is feasible.
  • Two layers of fabric are needed for the vertical garden. They are attached directly to the frame with galvanized screws and stainless-steel staples. Stretch the fabric across the frame, smoothen out for wrinkles and secure.
  • The irrigation system will keep plants growing on this vertical surface. The idea is to provide moisture throughout the fabric layer. An irrigation system can be constructed out of poly tubing with fittings that lock. The irrigation system for this set-up is basically a tube placed across the top of the vertical garden panel with emitters from which water drips down. This simple irrigation system can be sourced from an irrigation supplier, where you can also purchase the irrigation drippers and the standard valve.
  • A propagation timer also will be needed. The timer should be able to be set in seconds rather than minutes. The ideal irrigation regimen is a quick flow of water three to six times a day for 10 to 15 seconds. An emitter should be attached every two to three inches along the top irrigation tube. This can be adjusted to suit the particular needs of the vertical garden. The key is to find the right balance between keeping the wall wet and overwatering the plants, says the magazine.
  • Attach the frame to the wall using stainless-steel hardware. Hooks and brackets screwed into the wall can be used to attach the frame.
  • Next, add a fertiliser injector, which has a simple irrigation valve that sends liquid fertiliser into the irrigation system. Install the entire irrigation system and connect to the water source. The water needs to be filtered with an irrigation water filter, which can be bought at most hardware stores.
  • To take care of the runoff, plant a flower bed at the base of the vertical garden.
  • Choose the planting, taking into consideration climate, microclimate, aesthetic preferences and the load-bearing weight of the host wall.
  • To insert the plants into the vertical garden frame, make a horizontal cut into the material with a razor blade. Get as much soil off the plant’s rootball first (to prevent root rot ( then insert into a cut. Insert three to five stainless-steel staples to attach the cloth to the plastic backing in a semi-circle around the root ball.
  • If plants that create shade are planted at the top, plants that tolerate shade, such as ferns, should be placed underneath. With real plants the positioning is critical, the planting scheme must be fully thought out.

How many steps did this simple, DIY vertical garden project take?

In marked contrast, a high-performance artificial vertical garden system like Vistafolia is as easy to DIY install as counting from 1 to 3. Each panel can be handily fixed to just about any wall surface using its unique drill-and-cap fixing system that’s as easy as attaching a shelf on the wall. The stainless-steel panels are lightweight and practically put no weight on the host wall. There is no irrigation, lighting, planting medium, fertilisation or pruning needed. The signature panels have overlapping foliage that provides seamless coverage and mimics the natural movement of plants for an incredibly life-like, lush green display that creates a stunning green view for any environment.

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Left us a 5 star review

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Based on 86 Reviews

Fantastic service and quality thrilled with my green wall

The Vistafolia panels and colour boxes have created a beautiful garden feature from what was previously a brick wall 'eye-sore' (see before photo). Excellent delivery times and brilliant customer service, so pleased we have just ordered some more!

I am absolutely obsessed with my purchases from vistafolia. I ordered 2 boxes of flowers to fill my window boxes. The quality is incredible. They look so real and even smell like a garden centre. The customer service is fantastic and I will definitely be ordering some more soon.

Thrilled! Looks absolutely fantastic and has surpassed my expectations. Makes such a difference looking out from my study onto a balcony with greenery rather than metal panels! Ric’s suggestion for the white colour box was spot on – really lifts the greenery. Installation process was seamless and the guys were great. Highly, highly recommend.

Very helpful and very professional! Thank you for my wonderful panels!

I got curious with the adds on fb about vertical garden wall by vista folia.. i researched with other competetor but vista folia captured my attention with its realistic foliage and it would be a great addition to my garden...it really lookes beautiful in contrast with the real plants i have.. it made it complete...i will have another part of the garden to be installed ... thanks to tim who i always communicate with if i have queries he's always accomodating... thank you vista folia... my wife love it too...

Amazing company! We have just installed 2 plant walls in our new office. Fantastic quality and mega responsive/organised team when it comes to each step of the process. Highly recommend.

Great product, excellent customer service, and professional skilful installation. Very happy to recommend.

Check out the website. So realistic

Brilliant service. Flexible, friendly and creative. And fabulous product. Transformed our terrace completely. The hedge looks stunning, the colour boxes being a beautiful feature.

To say I’m happy is an understatement! I found the perfect look I needed for my outside shower. I can’t recommend Vistafolia enough. The service I received was impeccable. A special shout out to Tim who explained the product so well, Ric who came out to the property to show me the product and measure up the area, and last but not least the installation team Dan and Nick who were excellent . They explained each step and also made sure I was happy with the end result. A smooth, stress free installation and any questions asked along the way was happily answered and explained. No hassle! What more can one ask for! I almost bought elsewhere until I came across this company who thankfully advised me that they could install this type of artificial living wall with a metal back frame to the size I required unlike the advice I got elsewhere. I’m so thankful that I didn’t buy a cheaper option out there as I really wouldn’t have achieved this look! Thank you!

Amazing product, pre-sales and installation services. Very courteous team who were respectful of our home throughout. Meticulous and careful installation. Could not be happier with outcome, service and product.

Vista Folia have been extremely helpful throughout and provided us with an excellent product. We throughly enjoyed bringing the wall to life with these amazingly convincing boxes full of foliage and the final outcome was stunning! Very happy client!

My Vistafolia green wall looks fantastic. I have to remind myself it's not real! It has transformed a boring brick wall which I look out onto while I'm washing up into something lovely. Very good customer service too - well-informed and helpful.

thanks for the great job

The team was fantastic. They arrived on time. It was raining, but they worked through the rain and did a fabulous job. Had some trouble with my neighbour and they went above and beyond to sort that out and make her side look pretty too. Would recommend them any day.

Extremely happy with the final product and service provided by Vistafolia in particular a big thank you to Ric and Tim. The project was delayed but throughout the whole process the team were great and supportive- answering my many questions will very sensible options. The final result is impressive and we have added our personal touch with a Ganesh statue that looks sublime.

Great company, very professional and efficient. I am very happy with the final result. I recommend.

We found Vistafolia's Lush Green green wall product to be of the highest quality. It was naturalistic and easy to install. Customer service was excellent and the end result is very impacting. It was key that the product had a good fire rating and clear supporting documentation. We would use Vistafolia and their products again.

Vistafolia did an awesome job of turning my small yard into a place of beauty. Amazing!

We love our Vistafolia wall! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, very helpful and speedy service, and the guys working on the wall were incredibly clean and polite!

Very efficient and professional from survey to installation and finished walk looks amazing

I am so thrilled that I picked Vistafolia. Our roof terrace looks amazing with the combination of the foliage panels and cedar panelling. The whole process could not have been simpler and the team worked hard and paid such attention to detail during the installation. I would thoroughly recommend them.

My experience with Vistafolia has been positive as they provided me with great service and the people we dealt with were very friendly and professional. I am happy with the outcome from Vistafolia as the packaging and the delivery was efficient and quick. I would definitely recommend this company for all your green wall needs.

The quality of the product exceeded my expectations and the customer service was outstanding. Would highly recommend.

A fantastic product and delightful service. Would highly recommend. I am now busy looking for more walls to cover!

Incredibly simple, efficient and professional team from start to finish. And what a beautiful result - no video or brochure does these green walls any justice.

Although our project was quite small in scope, the team at Vistafolia were very friendly and professional to deal with. Any questions we had were quickly dealt with and we are really pleased with the results of our green wall and garden boxes. The plants and colours look great!

We are so pleased with our Vistafolia Green Wall. It looks absolutely fantastic and has completely changed our garden. The team provided an excellent service and would highly recommend the product.

How nice it is to do business with a company that values your business; that responds promptly; whose workers turn up on time and are very polite, hard-working and courteous and whose product looks amazing. Vistafolia is one such company. The staff are amazing and we are delighted with the gorgeous transformation that the Green Wall has made to our garden.

Extremely happy with the service. We had two panels fitted and the guys couldn't be more helpful. They turned up on time and did a fantastic job with the installation. The product itself is fantastic, very realistic and no more watering. Would highly recommend Vista Folia

I have recently worked with the Vistafolia team on a couple of projects, including a contemporary domestic garden and a large central London commercial site. In both cases, the team were extremely professional, knowledgeable and reliable and I was confident that the projects were in safe hands from start to finish. With the latter commercial project, the team had to work under extremely difficult circumstances on a busy site with numerous other contractors, but remained patient, polite and focussed, even as the deadline loomed. Vistafolia is a great product, which lends itself to numerous applications and clients are always excited by the results. Big thanks to Ric and the team!

Great place

We had panels fitted onto walls at a commercial property. Vistafolia gave great customer service from the day we walked in to the showroom to after we had the foliage installed. Friendly, helpful and informed. I would recommend them to anyone in a heartbeat. The final finish looks excellent. We are very happy.

Vistafolia transformed our garden and we have been so pleased with the results. The team are very professional, accommodating and happy to assist with maintenance where needed. A pesky fox had caused some damage so Vistafolia despatched Ric to resolve the issue and he was incredibly obliging and got the job done efficiently and effectively! We would highly recommend them to anyone.

The team at Vistafolia were fantastic from start to finish. They came and did a site visit and explained all of my options, the sales team were friendly and didn’t try to give me the hard sell, and the installation team left me with an amazing green wall. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

The team at Vistagreen were brilliantly responsive and so quick to sort out what we needed. The process went smoothly from start to finish and the completed product looks fantastic. Can't recommend them highly enough.

Great communication and customer service throughout the sales process, and the product is excellent quality and looks fantastic. Really pleased with the result.

Just wow! The green wall has transformed a dismal space. Great service, I totally recommend this product & company

From start to finish the customer care was outstanding with immediate responses to my questions via email and the telephone. The quality of the product and the effect when finally put in place was superb, a visual delight. A five star company one I will certainly be using again.

These look so real! We have put some panels up in our home gym and they look great.

It has been a delight dealing with VistaGreen from beginning to end of the project. Fast and accommodating team who delivered a great finished result. Extremely happy with our new office decoration.

Quick turnaround, very accommodating, fantastic high quality product, friendly customer service

Great product and service :)

I spent a lot of time researching for a Vertical Garden, and finally decided on using Vista Green. Before I proceeded, I went to their Offices/Store Warehouse to double check the quality etc. I dealt with Tim, who was so helpful, knowledgeable and patient, and offered an on-site Survey, which I accepted. The Surveyor, Rik, was professional and he was able to sort out a quote very quickly. The Vertical Garden was installed last week, and it looks amazing. The guys fitting were an absolute pleasure to have working at your home, and we are so happy to have had chosen Vista Green. I have absolutely no problem in recommending this Company to anyone - Thank you to all the Team!

Great product. Great result. Looks fab.

Quite honestly, it took me FOREVER to track down a company who could build a feature plant wall in my home. Once I emailed and spoke to VistaGreen, I knew that regardless of my budget, whatever they quoted for my feature wall, I would do whatever I could to make it work. This was down to not only the quality and variety of foliage offered, but because both Tim and Ric from the sales team took their time with me, worked with me budget wise, and using the image of the space I had previously sent to them, gave me digital images of what the wall would look like!! Additionally, VistaGreen accommodated an early installation, meaning that within days, my vision had come to life! I really appreciated their willingness and flexibility. From inception to completion I enjoyed my journey with VistaGreen and I’m almost sad that there is nothing left to do (for now! Lol) I can whole heartedly recommend them to anyone thinking of having such a special luxury feature in (or out) of their home!

Really happy with our new green wall, it has transformed our basement completely. The work took place over 3 days, the workmen were polite, professional and we would highly recommend the company

I've recently installed VistaGeen green wall panels in a garden design scheme set within a timber frame and they look great - very realistic and none of the hassles of irrigation and plant failure associated with real living wall. Most importantly, the client loves it too! Great product

Great and professional service once again. Very accommodating given the changing weather and site conditions.