Vertical Gardening at 38th and Burke

Maybe it’s the efficiency of it: a garden not limited by the footprint of the space, but dashing upwards, embezzling efficiency from the third dimension. Maybe it’s just the idea that walls can be dynamic and alive. Whatever it is, we’ve always had a soft spot for vertical gardens and green walls.

So maybe we’re late to the party on this one, but it was a delight to see this grand wonder spreading and blossoming at the corner of 38th and Burke.

We stopped in one evening and convinced the owner, Matt Wiley, to tell us about it:

The wall was built about a year and a half ago during an extensive remodel of our house. Our remodel was done to both add space to the house and to improve the overall “greenness” of the home. The work was done by Batt & Lear (design and build) and was awarded a five star “Built Green” rating from the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties. One part of that rating was the water conservation and Landscaping plan. In order to reduce the storm water runoff from the property, about half of the roof  was  done as a vegetated green roof. The soil and plants on the roof absorb the rain and release any excess much more slowly than a standard impervious roof and gutter system. About half of  the run off from green roof, and from the upper metal roof is directed to a 1500 gallon cistern that is below our back deck. The water from that cistern is then used for daily watering of the green wall. There is an electric pump and irrigation system that is used for drip irrigation of the wall.

As cool as all that sounds, the real motivation for the wall is that it looks much nicer than the cinder block retaining wall it replaced. A 6-foot concrete wall along the sidewalk was not a particularly pleasant or attractive feature of the neighborhood. The green wall was had the added benefit of sparking conservations with many passersby. It is by far the most commented on feature of the house.

The wall and the green roof, and the solar panels, were all designed and installed by a company called Solterra Systems.  Here are some links to more information.

If you’re interested in such things, there was an article in last week’s New York Times about a fantastic green wall that recently went up in Mexico City. There’s also an “alley party” at the next Pioneer Square First Thursday featuring a set of moss walls.

  1. Judy said,

    I love this. I tried to convince the developer of the Lowe’s on Aurora to use a vertical planted screen to hide a residential development atop the store. Ahead of my time I am afraid.

    Mon, April 16 at 9:37 am
  2. Thach Nguyen said,

    Great use of space, I know a few of my clients that would love to do something like that around their home.

    Tue, April 17 at 11:25 am
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