Here is what I have been up to lately… A Living Wall in Bellingham

This Critical Area project in Bellingham near Western University took over 18 months of design and planning to be installed…! Due to the steep nature of the slope (22′ change in grade) I worked with a Geotech to engineer the structure that I designed.

The goal was to improve the existing site with a design that would provide access for the homeowner and a low maintenance garden space.  The problem was the severity of the slope and the narrow space in which to get the job done, (50′ from the road). Several retaining options were looked at and immediately rejected for reasons of practicality, budget constraints or personal taste.

The Living Wall, built with the Crib Lock system, is a very simple structure that is incredibly versatile and effective on steep slopes. Working with the contractor and the engineer, we designed a series of walls that would create a ramp that began at street level, and wound its way up to the house. The walls were as long as 100′ and as tall as 12′ in some places.  The square footage of wall surface is over 3000 sf!

The construction of the walls went beautifully for a variety of reasons. Delays due to permitting were a blessing in disguise as the unusually wet summer would have caused serious building challenges and delays. Our construction window happened to coincide with the 6 weeks of dry weather we had this ‘summer’, so we were blessed by the construction Gods. (thank you!)  So, we plugged away with multiple pieces of equipment on a very small site and built our three walls and ramped access. Strategic plantings and irrigation were designed to insure the Living Wall will fill in successfully.

The sedum in the wall is a mix of several varieties- grown specifically for green roofs right here in Mt Vernon!! Although the plants are relatively small they will look far different in a year. The grasses will fill out, the vines will climb and the various ground covers and spreading shrubs will hang down. The abundance of concrete and dirt will be dramatically reduced and a vertical garden will appear!