Water: The Essence of Life ...and living green walls, part 2
Water is essential to all life. It keeps us hydrated and keeps all of our vital organs functioning. You cannot live more than a few days without water. In much the same way, water is also essential for plants.
Water is therefore an important consideration for any living green wall project. It is important to know how plants use water, how to spot plants having a water-related issue, and how different types of green walls can be irrigated. In this three-part blog post, we will be examining the topic of water and how it relates to living green walls.
One of the most basic considerations for a green wall is whether it will be manually watered or automatically watered. Larger scale living wall projects will require automatic watering, but for small and medium sized walls manual watering is also an option.
- Manual watering is when someone adds water to the green wall by hand. Water can be added using a watering can, a portable water tank machine or a temporary hose connection. This is an economical option because it eliminated the upfront cost for plumbing, drain lines and electricity. Manual watering is only used for small and medium sized living walls because the volume of water needed for larger walls makes manual watering impractical. Additionally, to allow for manual watering, a green wall needs to be easily accessible. Any green walls installed in hard to reach locations are not good candidates for manual watering.
- Automated watering is when the green wall is connected to the building’s plumbing system and watered without any human intervention. The flow of water is regulated by a computerized control box. The control box utilizes either moisture sensors or a timer system to only add water to the green wall when it is needed. These programmable systems provide for precise control of watering frequency and volume. Additionally, some control boxes also have the ability to inject fertilizer into the green wall’s water supply. An automatic watering system is more costly to install, but it usually lowers the maintenance cost and it removes the possibility for human error. Automatic watering is optional for small and medium sized green walls, but it is a requirement for larger or complex green walls.
The water irrigation system is a vitally important component of the living green wall. When designing a green wall system it is very important to carefully consider the best irrigation option for your specific location.
Many people like to water manually as it has lower upfront costs and allows the plant maintenance person to see the fruits of their labor. Automatic watering proves to be helpful for people who like to set it and forget it. Automatic irrigation systems have higher upfront cost but lower ongoing maintenance cost. The simplicity in setting the system and forgetting it allows the green wall to constantly receive water and continue to thrive.
No matter if you choose manual watering or automatic irrigation, you must ensure that the living wall gets the proper amount of water. Both over-watering and under-watering a living wall can cause big problems for the plants. The water amount can change over the life of the wall as plants grow and need more water and it can also fluctuate during a year if the plants get more or less light at different times. Be sure to know the total water capacity of the living wall, the estimated water use per week and keep a close eye on the soil moisture level.