Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Green Wall for Summer Shade

I am building a green wall, aka "summer shading wall" about 30 inches from the house on the south end. Eventually the deciduous trees I'm planting nearby will grow up to shade that end of the house, but that will take a few years. In the meantime, I am putting up a trellis with 2 horizontal cattle panels, one on top of the other. Cattle panels are 16 feet long and 50" wide, which will cover most of that area. I plan to grow some flowering vines on it, but also some hardy (smaller, smooth-skinned edible) kiwi vines, and pole beans. I may consider putting some grape vines on it next year.

The south end of our house is narrow (the house was originally a single-wide trailer, with more house built around it). That end has no windows except one to the long front porch, but it absorbs a LOT of heat during the summer. I suspect there is scant insulation in the walls, and since it is the master bathroom, I'm not about to tear out everything (including all the plumbing and fixtures) down to the studs to fur out the walls and add adequate insulation. The foam insulation they can pipe into walls doesn't work very well if there is already minimal fiberglass insulation and/or fire-stops in the walls.

After having some sod removed for an adjacent food forest area and the post holes drilled, I started on the shade trellis. Photo above is the posts just stuck in the holes, awaiting some help to hold them plumb while I backfill. (The temporary opening in the skirting is for access where the plumber is replacing all the water pipes.)

Finally the posts are set, the area between the house and trellis has been covered with weedcloth and a heavy layer of wood chips on top, but only one horizontal cattle panel has been attached until I can get 2 people to hold it up while I hammer in some fence staples. That will happen before any vines grow that tall.

I ended up planting Japanese morning glories, 1 moonvine, Kentucky Wonder pole beans, Mexican sour gherkins and my 2 hardy kiwis along the base of the cattle panels. I cut a bunch of comfrey and sorrel leaves for a "chop and drop" fertilizing mulch, covered with some wood chips. 

The cattle panels don't cover the whole end wall... about 3 feet on each end will be exposed after it all grows and leafs out. I think I'll plant giant sunflowers along the ends for the summer, and transplant some Jerusalem Artichokes on the ends this fall.

I'll post another photo in a few weeks when stuff has grown up the trellis enough to see it.


  1. That's a great idea. It's going to look wonderful when the plants and sunflowers are big.

    1. Thanks. I hope it performs as imagined/planned!

  2. I Love that! I think I may have to try that in an area. How far is it from the house itself (did I miss that in there...) I'll bet it will look GREAT when everything is growing!

    Leah's Mom

    1. About 30 inches.

      I AM hoping it will look great and perform well!


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