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Main Content
Living Wall
Living Wall

How to Make a Living Wall

by The Old Farmer’s Almanac staff

Turn your empty walls into living works of art! 

What Is a Living Wall?

A living wall is a garden and landscape design that allows you to grow plants on a vertical surface such as a wall or fence. 

Why Build a Living Wall?

Living walls make use of the unused airspace above your garden and are beautiful as well as therapeutic.

Design Options

The most important part of the living wall is the framework that holds the plants and soil in place. Here are two simple designs.

Option 1: Pallet Living Wall

You Will Need:

  • Pallet with slat top (not one piece); make sure that it is heat-treated, marked with the letters “HT” on the side
  • Plastic sheeting, landscaping fabric, or gardening fabric
  • Gravel or crushed stone (optional)
  • Scrap wood for feet (optional)
  • Wood screws for feet (optional)
  • Gardening soil (about 2 large bags)
  • Tools (as needed): Heavy-duty stapler and staples, screwdriver, hand saw, drill

Lay the pallet face down. Securely staple sheeting or fabric across the back, sides, and one of the open ends. Use a screwdriver to poke several small drainage holes in the end. Move the pallet to where you will use it; consider placing it on 2 to 3 inches of gravel or crushed stone to help with drainage. Stand it up with the open end up and slat side facing out. To keep it upright, simply lean it against a wall or stabilize it with “feet” made by screwing a short piece of wood to each side at its bottom, parallel to the ground, so that the wall can’t rock back and forth. You may wish to drill holes for the screws first.

Fill the pallet with soil through the open top, but don’t pack it tightly. Soak the soil and then let it drain and settle for a few hours. Repeat the process to get the soil level to the height that you want.

The pallet is now ready for planting. Trailing vines and sprawling vegetables are perfect for this design, but herbs and flowers work as well. Sow seeds or seedlingsin the open spaces between the slats on the front and top. Make sure that the pallet will get plenty of light. 

Watering Tips

Use a hose or watering can to evenly water through the top, making sure that the water drains all the way through to the bottom. 


Option 2: Stacked Gutter Living Wall

You Will Need:

  • Old or new gutter system (metal or plastic)
  • Gutter end caps (2 for each section)
  • Wood screws
  • Gardening soil
  • Tools (as needed): measuring tape, hacksaw or utility saw for plastic, drill, carpenter’s level, screwdriver

This type of living wall uses sections of gutter mounted horizontally above one another, about 2 feet apart, on a wall. Make sure that the location gets plenty of sun. Each section will need two end caps. Cut your sections to size (usually equal, but up to you!) and then drill two or three drainage holes every 6 inches or so across each bottom. If you are mounting sections directly to the wall, drill a mounting hole about every 12 inches (or however appropriate) across each back. (You can also do this by securing two or three vertical wooden slats or “stringers” to the wall and then mounting your gutters to them.) 

Two people are needed for the next part, which is screwing the gutters to the wall. Start with the highest one and use a level to make sure that they are all horizontal.

Fill each of the gutters with soil to just below the rim. Gently water and then wait until the soil has drained completely. 

Sow the stacked gutters with your choice of plants, but avoid anything heavy. Vines, ferns, herbs, and short flowers work best in this design. 

Watering Tips

Use a hose or watering can to evenly soak the soil of the highest gutter section. As the excess drains, it drips through the holes in the bottom of the gutter to then water the sections beneath. Water each gutter section below the first incrementally less, the bottom receiving the least.