Many of our customers looking at the Tournesol VGM modular living wall system intend on using it for commercial installations. This is a wonderful example of what it can do in a residential setting. The design, by Michelle Bond of Thumbellina Gardens in San Francisco, covers the back wall of a back yard at the bottom of a large hill. This installation was one of the best-documented that we’ve seen, and we’re fortunate that Michelle shared her images with us.
San Francisco, as most know, lies on a series of several steep hills. This backyard area is built into one of them. Previous landscaping was nice, but Michelle worked with the homeowner to create something spectacular. The wall at the back of the yard was built up to be level across the top. The overall size is approximately 340 sq. feet.
While the installation went in at the end of November, it had been planned since April. Michelle worked with the homeowner, Tournesol Siteworks, and our partner Ewing Irrigation on the job. To cover the area, Michelle used 96 VGM modules and 1,536 plants.
She worked with a relatively small crew, using the homeowner’s backyard as a staging area. It shows that you don’t have to be a huge company to make something like this work!
She installed the system using a 50/50 mix of “Ultra Potting Soil” and perlite. Ultra is a locally available coir-based mix. We would typically recommend a less-organic mix (90/10 inorganic/organic).
As you can see, just setting up and assembling all the modules takes up most of the owner’s backyard space.
Because they had a very specific planting plan, each module was marked with a number when planted.
While planting the modules, the rails were hung. They used unplanted modules in their frames to verify the spacing and location.
Once the planting was done, the plants were left to grow into the media. They used relatively large plants, installed one per window. They let these grow in for about 3 weeks prior to installation. Had they started with plugs, the grow-in time would have been significantly longer.
To install the rails, they calculated where the middle of the wall was, determined the closest rail position, and started from there. The rails were positioned using the unplanted modules and framesets.
There were a lot of rails to hang! There is a little space between the last rails on either end on the wall.
They used Tournesol Siteworks’ recommended irrigation layout, running a horizontal main line. The laterals were run up the rails. At the top of each box a multiport drip emitter was installed, with individual emitters run to every box.
The plants were prepared for the vertical by tilting the modules up at 45 degrees about halfway through the grow-in period
The variety of species that they chose for the wall was simply astounding. Michelle used different colors and textures across the wall.
At the big install, they started with the bottom row and went level by level (with the exception of the outermost row). It allows for the easiest installation of the irrigation that way.
The final product! Even though they were only grown in for three weeks or so, the coverage was really quite good. The leafier plants covered immediately, and the smaller ones covered most of the internal windows separators.
Compare this to the original wall – as it grows in you’ll realize how it brings nature right into the backyard.
Viewing the wall from the side gives a better idea of how well the plants were grown in at install.
Michelle just sent us several updates on the wall, taken three weeks after planting. Not only did she do the back wall, but you can see that she’s planted VertiGreen trellis on the sides of the yard, as well.
Lovely work, Michelle – thanks for sharing!