Consultation + Installation: Walls of Woollyness

Recently a friend called on me to help with an installation, since I’ve had much more experience than he in hanging Woolly Pockets. John Alexander is one of the two gardeners for Laguna Honda Hospital here in SF, and does his own gardening biz on the side: JGA Garden Designs.

He designed a small back garden for a client of his in the Midtown Terrace area of SF, and wanted to utilize the abundant wall space to create something more visually appealing from their back windows. Enter Woolly Pockets. I’m familiar with them already, having been using them at Flora Grubb Gardens for a few years now… They’re durable and fairly easy to install on your own, but here are some tips about how “we professionals” do this sort of thing. 🙂

We dropped off the plants first thing, then went to get some plywood…

The wall to be vertically gardened, before the action.

Our first pocket set, hung and ready to plant…

The pockets are 100% plastic (polyester felt) and can be hung directly on interior or exterior walls. Outside with no overhanging eaves, though, we decided to back them with plywood. It’s a foggy neighborhood, and we didn’t want fog-dampened fabric against the paint all day and night. Also, the studs on the walls are 24″ apart, and the pockets have their mountings at 22″ spacing. To make the whole thing sturdier, plywood just made sense here.

Hanging the plywood.

To protect the walls, we got 3/4″ marine-grade plywood and cut it into panels. (Big hardware stores can do this part for you!) We made the panels exactly the width of the pockets, but cut them 1″ shorter in height since the base of each pocket rises about an inch when the pockets get planted. This house was fabulous to do this on. We could easily follow the lines of the clapboards to get it all level (well, as level as the walls themselves, anyway.) We wanted to have a little air gap behind each wood panel as well, so we screwed three stacked washers onto the back of each piece in each corner to leave a 1/8″ or so gap. We used 3″ screws to hang the panels.

First pocket goes on!

We spaced the pockets evenly, and let the bottom one overhang the wood/concrete interface to unify the two parts of the wall. Above that line, it was like the two parts of the wall were different structures. This overlap was a brilliant way to conceal that line.

Eight triple pockets, ready for irrigation.

A little solo pocket on the side wall. You can see the one on the fence peeking out from behind the white door there…

The pockets can be hand-watered or irrigated with drip fittings. The one soloist above, and the long one on the fence, called for succulents and hand-watering. But for the high wall of triples, irrigation was a better choice.

Drip irrigation enters… Tiny 1/4″ hole in the wall to let out the drip lines.

This wall was effing brilliant for irrigation! It’s a garage with no interior walls. We ran the irrigation inside the garage, and punched out at each individual pocket. Any irrigation repairs can be easily accessed at standing height inside!

John (left) and his partner planting up the drought-tolerant succulent pockets on the fence. Hand-watering will be needed (very infrequently) for this one.

Once the pockets are hung (and irrigation has been inserted, if using) they are ready to be planted just like any standard planter! Fill with soil, and plant as desired…

The five-pocket Woolly, after John and Jai planted it. Gorgeous!

Unfortunately, my day ran short of being able to partake in the actual planting. I did get to see the one pocket hanging and planted above, but had to leave the rest for John and crew. A full day of cutting, hanging, ladder-climbing, and irrigating was enough for me! 🙂

I’d love to hear how anybody else is faring with the Woolly Pocket systems out there. Any first-hand experiences to share?

One response to “Consultation + Installation: Walls of Woollyness

  1. Pingback: Garden Installation: Mission Creek Custom Vertical Garden | boZannical Gardens

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