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GPW: San Francisco Residential Living Wall

on July 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm under Project of the Week: 7/18/11
San Francisco Residential Living Wall
San Francisco, CA, USA
330 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2010
Owner: Michelle Bond
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Building Type: Single-Family Residential
Type: Green Façade
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 330 sq.ft.
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, Private

Project Description & Details

A newly remodeled modern house in San Francisco sits on a bottom of a hillside with a significant retaining wall at the rear of the property.  The backyard is sunken into the hill edged with three large, tall concrete walls surrounded by greenery; the space is terraced into two large open spaces with raised beds along the backside.   The owner/designer’s mission was to develop the space into a striking display of vertical gardens that would take advantage of the walls to their utmost possibilities.   The goal was to create and display a living wall that brings biodiversity, beauty and enjoyment to the owner’s familial lifestyle.  This planting display is modeled after a natural vertical garden similar to a woodland cliff on a north facing hill in California.   The vision of 75 varieties of shade loving plants, a mixture of subtropical plants with northwestern ferns and fern-allies, gives the wall its lush looking state.

The framework of the living wall was made out of Tournesol Siteworks modules and bracket systems, consisting of 96 VGM modules measuring 20″x20″ and 10″ deep with 1,536 plants.   The growing medium was made with a locally available 50/50 mix of coir based “Ultra Potting Soil” and perlite, although Tournesol Siteworks typically recommends a less-organic lightweight mix (90/10 inorganic/organic).   A fertigation system was installed with the irrigation system to replenish nutrients in the soil otherwise lost by water constantly dripping down through the modules.  After six months, the wall is approximately 85% filled in and the plants are thriving.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Owner, Greenwall Designer: Michelle Bond, Thumbellina Gardens
Greenwall Manufacturer: Tournesol Siteworks
Plant Suppliers: Sloat Garden Center, Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco Foliage, & Pacific Nurseries
Irrigation: Ewing Irrigation Products & The Urban Farmer
General Contractor: Ral Dasco
Fertigation Tanks and Fertilizers Supplier: GYOSF INC

Additional Info

Installed in late November 2010, the San Francisco Residential Living Wall had been in planning for six months prior to the installation.   When the homeowner/Thumbellina Gardens landscape designer Michell Bond moved in to the newly remodeled home with the large retaining wall in the back, the terraced backyard was also newly planted with nice but subdued plantings.   So Michelle wanted to redesign the space for maximum viewing pleasure and place her own designer’s aesthetic to the  open space, plus she wanted to really green up the bland, barren wall!

First, since the original retaining wall  had three different elevations, it had to  built up so that it would be level across the top in order to accommodate her design of the 12 feet high and 27.5 feet wide living wall.

Designer Michelle had each module numbered to easily follow her planting plan below:

Each Tournesol Siteworks VGM module was planted with 16 4″ plants, one per window.   To get the plants acclimated to their eventual vertical position, after  three weeks of planting the modules were  tilted 45 degrees.  It took 3-4 weeks for the plants to perk up and settle into their new modular pockets and were ready for installation a few weeks later.

Here are  the 50 species (not including varieties)  of plants that were used throughout the wall, including:

Aeonium “Mint Saucer,” Acorus gramineus, Aloe, Serrisa, Adiantum pedatum, Blechnum, Campanula   Porcharskyana, Carex   fraseri, Crassula, Cissus rhombifolia, Cupressus macrocarpa, Daphne cneruom, Dryopteris erythrosa, Davallia trichomanoides, Euphorbia, Anthericum sanderii, Fatsia japonica, Glechoma hederacea, Gaultheria procumbens, Hedera helix (ivy), Iris, Pellea rotundifolia, Iberis sempervirens, Juniper c.   procumbems nana, Lomandra longifolia, Fuchsia, Nephrolepis cordata, Ophiopogon japonicus, Oxalis oregana, Pellea falcata, Polypodum, Erigeron, Polystichum tsus sinensis, Plectranthus, Polystichum munitum,  Tradescantia, Pyrrosia (staghorn fern), Sedum dasyphyllum, Selaginella (moss), Silene uniflora, Solerolii (baby tears), Sequoia sempervirens, Saxifraga, Achemilla, Vacinuum, Sesleria,   Cymbalaria muralis, Vrisea, and Viola hederacea.

Michelle says that the only plants that have had difficulty were the Serissa, Vrisea, and the Alocasia and that all the others are loving their new high-attention  status in the backyard!

See the Tournesol Siteworks’ blog post about it here.

Did we miss something?   We’d love to hear from you! Click here to see more information about this project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database. See how you can submit yours here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.