Grow a Living Wall with Shawna Coronado

by Seasonal Wisdom on November 12, 2015

Building a living wall Perhaps you have a small garden, and want to use that patio wall more effectively. Maybe you have a bad back and would prefer not to bend over. Or, maybe you just want an attractive place to grow your favorite plants. Whatever the reason, there are lots of different types of living walls, and they are easy to grow with the right gardening tips – whether it’s a sunny kitchen garden or a shady side yard.

To learn more about living walls, Seasonal Wisdom sat down recently with Shawna Coronado, book author, keynote speaker and media spokesperson.  She also agreed to give one lucky winner a copy of her new book. But hurry! This giveaway won’t last long.  Congratulations to Jess B. for winning this random drawing. All photos copyright Shawna Coronado.

Grow a Living Wall Book CoverMy friend Shawna Coronado recently authored Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose (Cool Springs Press). Her four-color book gives step-by-step directions for building more than 20 attractive living walls, which are well suited to different growing conditions and design styles. From her home outside of Chicago, Shawna agreed one chilly autumn afternoon recently to share her thoughts on vertical gardening.

 Living wall with herbs and vines

Leafy vegetables and ornamental vines grow in this living wall.

Q) What was the most important thing you wanted to show people about growing a living wall, Shawna?

A) Across the world, there is a crisis in growing useful and practical plants; there’s not enough space. A living wall can be done anywhere – on a fence, on a wall, on a balcony – and offers a no-weed, easy-to-maintain solution for people who would like to grow their own organic plants.

Living wall with food and tableQ) What are some misconceptions that people have about vertical gardening?

A) People think their living wall gardens will dry out quickly from being too exposed to wind. The secret to preventing this situation is creating proper soil combinations. If you make a heavier soil mix for the vertical gardens, then the plants are less likely to dry out and more likely to succeed because you will be keeping the root systems moist.

 Shady side yard with two living walls

Shady side yard with two living walls and a rain barrel.

Q) Your book has gardens that do everything from attract pollinators to provide ingredients for your dinner. Why was it important to you to show that living walls can have purposes?

A) In the United States, we often have gardens that I think are not environmentally friendly. Many are fueled by artificial fertilizers and chemicals, which are not necessary. I consider these types of gardens lower on the useful scale. Growing plants that are organic, helpful for therapeutic purposes, ornamental and edible, as well as beautiful, means the environmental impact is reduced and the impact on humanity is certainly more positive. Having a purpose for a garden means it is contributing somehow to a gardener’s well-being. Gardens that do this are important for mental health, because they contribute to our overall emotional needs and well-being.

Q) How did you select different gardens for your book?

A) First I found the living wall systems that truly worked, then I found locations for the systems that would work well, then I selected the plants. This is the same thing we might do for any raised garden or container system — find a container, find a spot, pick the plants and go.

Q) Anything you want to add that we haven’t discussed?

A) One of the most surprising things that happened recently is that I was diagnosed with spinal osteoarthritis after I wrote this book. Who could have guessed that I would need this style of gardening more than ever, because it is absolutely perfect for people who have a difficult time with traditional gardening? This gardening “up” technique reduces pain and discomfort while gardening. Arthritis-sufferers like me, in particular, will find this book useful for them because it can help make gardening easier.

 Back garden with two living wallsA backyard kitchen garden with two living walls.

Win this Book!

Here’s your chance to enter to win a copy of Grow a Living Wall.

It’s easy to enter, and there are different ways to participate.

Just use this Rafflecopter device, which allows Seasonal Wisdom to randomly select a winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fine Print: This giveaway ends Nov. 18 at midnight, and is limited to U.S. citizens. The winner will be immediately contacted, and has until Nov. 23 to claim the prize before another winner is selected. PLEASE check your spam folders to see if you won.

This book and prize were supplied by the author at no charge. However, Seasonal Wisdom was not compensated for this blog post, and my opinion is my own.

Thanks for participating, and good luck.

 Shawna Coronado author of Grow a Living Wall

Learn more about Shawna at

More on Vertical Gardening

Living Walls for Small Spaces

Garden Up! Vertical Gardening

Vertical Garden Trends for Bing


Marla Paz November 12, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Loving this idea!

Shawna Coronado November 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Thanks so much for sharing my book here Teresa – I appreciate it. :-) Good luck to everyone!!!

Jeavonna November 12, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I have limited growing space at home. Have been considering going vertical, but haven’t actually done much with it yet. Looks like a lot of great ideas.

Nancy November 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Would love to have Shawna’s book!

Lisa S November 13, 2015 at 3:39 am

I would love to learn more about vertical gardening. I have all sorts of spare “stuff” – pallets, wood, etc that I could use to make multiple vertical gardens.

Dee Fedor November 13, 2015 at 5:34 am

I would LOVE to add this method to my gardening. We rescued a shelter dog last year who thinks her job is to rid the garden of mice and moles. Unfortunately, she also digs up some plants! She couldn’t get to VERTICAL ones!

Ruth November 13, 2015 at 1:43 pm

I’d love to have a go at a living wall for salad crops, I think it would be so useful to have them right by the door, and no bending over. I’d add a few flowers too though.

Michelle B November 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm

What a great idea!

JessB November 17, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Great topic. I think taking care of your back is important at any age. I never want to have to give up gardening because of pain!

Donna Reid November 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Gardening has become my passion. As a diabetic I am learning to eat healthier and live stress-free. What a fantastic way to experience joy and pleasure with growing a living wall !!

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