Drip Irrigation for Living Walls
Automatic Drip Systems
Florafelt Pockets and Pro System vertical gardens perform best when irrigated with automatic systems. Typically the irrigation frequency should be set to water 4 times a day with durations as little as 2 minutes to as long as 20 minutes depending on the height of the installation. Set you water timer to water every 6 hours then adjust the duration so the bottom pocket fold remains moist or even drips a little. It’s important to maintain a humid flow throughout the living wall.
Water Timing and Control
Living walls require consistent and regular irrigation to maintain moisture in the growing felt medium. Simple battery operated hose timers are easy to operate and very reliable and if the main power goes out they will continue to irrigate the living wall. The system will require a pressure regulator to prevent tubing blowouts and a filter to stop particles from clogging emitters.
We recommend to use 5/8 inch irrigation tubing with 1/2 gallon/hour button drip emitters. Use two drip emitters per pocket. Keep the drip emitters visible from the front so you can observe the system during operation. Watch for faulty drippers and replace as required. 5/8 inch tubing allows for longer runs without flow issues.
Each of the two drip emitters should be located about an inch from each edge of a pocket. This makes it easier to insert a plant into the top pocket and keeps the drip emitters free of blockage.
Florafelt is Unique
Do not to drip into the soil itself.
The pleated felt system wicks water downward which causes water to collect in the bottom fold of each pocket. Do not drip onto the soil. Doing so will cause the roots to remain within the wrap and limit their growth. Instead water the felt so roots will be encouraged to grow into the system.
Drain Away Irrigation System with Food Injector
For even very tall walls its preferred to use a single irrigation run at the top row of pockets only. This makes maintenance much easier and reduces the flow of water to a very slow flow. This allows for the moisture to slowly wick downward and spread into the felt and allow for more time for it to absorb into each root wrapped plant.
Our Drip Irrigation Kit
Save time and simply buy our ready-made Drip Irrigation Kit. It has all the parts you need to add a professional drip system to the top of your vertical garden. The timer, filter, pressure regulator is pre-assembled and ready to go.
With Florafelt Systems the water must flow through the felt. It’s possible to position your vertical garden over a planter below but in some situations you may not want water hanging around.
Nylon Fittings can be siliconed into place, then loosely set into the PVC fittings which will allow for cleaning and won’t break if bumped. West Marine has nylon fittings used for through hull connections. The one shown here fit’s nicely into the 3/4″ PVC elbow connector perfectly. Use the PVC Clear Silicone that is sold with the gutter to make the watertight connection in the tray.
You can use off the shelf PVC plastic gutter systems to make an easy and low-cost drain tray system. You can use the drain connectors that come with their system or you can use other fittings to make a low-profile drain-away system using 3/4″ PVC pipe.
Orbit Digital Hose Timer How To Program Video
The Orbit Digital Hose Timer is a simple and reliable way to keep you vertical garden wet. Because it’s battery operated you won’t have to worry about a blown fuse. These battery operated timers are very reliable and easy to program and make adjustments.
Florafelt Pro System Drip Irrigation
Use 2 drip emitters for each planting column. Tubing is attached to the front grid rail at the top with the emitters pointing back to drip onto the system. Use zip ties to keep them in place. Leave the tubing exposed on the top surface for easy access.
Rain has little to no effect on irrigation
Vertical orientation and leaves will typically deflect and will not add moisture to your living walls. Therefore do not make adjustments for rain. Seasonal exposure and humidity will have an effect on evaporation so slight adjustments may be necessary throughout the year.
How to Fertilize your Living Wall
In the Spring and Summer you can add plant food spikes to the top pockets just beneath the drip emitters. Water will drip over the plant food and slowly become added to the pockets below. Plant food is only necessary when you notice that the leaves are becoming a very light green or pale. Be careful not to over-feed as this will cause the plants to produce excess sugars and attract pests. For very large living walls you can use fertilizer injectors that add food to the irrigation system. See: Dosatron Fertilizer Injector.
Maintain a Reliable Water Source
A high quality garden hose is a perfect way to connect to a nearby hose spigot. We recommend to use a hose splitter so others don’t remove the connection and interrupt the water source. Add a sign that to inform others that the water spigot is to ‘REMAIN ON’. Use zip ties or plastic wrap to make it very inconvenient to turn it off. For public areas use a lock box to conceal the faucet and irrigation controls.
Water collects in the bottom fold and into the felt wrap. Roots grow into the fold.
Wrap your plants wide and narrow so they will make contact with the bottom fold. With the irrigation system on, observe your living wall to insure the bottom folds are moist and each plant is absorbing moisture correctly.
Regulator and Mesh Filter
This will reduce water pressure down to 30psi which will prevent your drip emitter and connectors from blowing out. The mesh filter will prevent small particles from clogging the drip emitters. Be sure to check and clean the filter on a regular basis.