Sabina's Vertical Living Wall

908 Canning Hwy, 

Applecross, WA 6153

Project Scope

Sabina is a 5 Green Star development by Finbar, located in the Canning Bridge Development Precinct with 127 apartments over 30 levels. It is a landmark site for the suburb, known for its vibrant jacaranda filled streets and green open spaces. Finbar have gone to extraordinary lengths to embed energy-saving technologies and amenities into their design.

Earth & Water was contracted to design and install a vertical living wall on the exterior of the building. The brief was to soften the internal multi-level car park with greenery.

Site Challenges:

Exposure to the Elements
The vertical living wall is located on a north facing wall of the building and extends from the first level up to the fifth. It is exposed to the elements all year round from hail storms and turbulent winds in winter, to direct sunlight for 80% of the day in summer.The living wall has to adapt to all weather conditions.

The location and spread of the modules makes it challenging to safely prune and maintain plant health without the aid of an elevated work platform. A key goal was to design a low maintenance installation to reduce costs to the new apartment owners whilst keeping the wall looking good!


Modular Design

Sabina’ vertical living wall is made up of Elmich’s VGM Green Wall modules that are made of 100% recycled plastic. They are low profile plastic modules of a high strength interlocking design.

They protude from the wall by only 15cm but are designed to hold 16 plants in a 4 x 4 array.

Each module contains a 26 litre semi-permeable geofabric bag that is designed to contain root systems whilst simultaneously allowing adequate aeration and water filtration.

Under normal conditions the modules are mounted on pilasters and locked in with a drip tray beneath. However Sabina’s modules are locked within huge metals beams on the exterior of the building. The 500 millimetre space between each beam is based on the width of a module. Now, the wall is protected against wind uplift over 100 kilometres per hour.

Plant Palette

Plant choice is one of the most important decisions for this location. So much hinges on the adaptability of the plants due to the high degree of weather variability and exposure.

This is the plant palette that we went with:

  • Lomandra Longifolia
  • Eremophilia Glabra
  • Liriope
  • Hibbertia Scanden 
  • Dianella Caerulea

Once the seedlings were planted in the modules, prior to installation they lay horizontal for 20 weeks to allow for the root systems to establish themselves. This prepares the integrity of the soil and plants for when they are moved from being horizontal to vertical and finally installed.

Sabina Applescross Vertical Living Wall


Small routine services maintain a higher level of plant health and prevent small problems from becoming bigger.

This is incredibly important with vertical living walls because preventative services prolong the life of the wall and reduce its cost on apartments owners and residents.

Annualised Cost

It costs approximately $4.30 to maintain each of Sabina’s module per month. The maintenance cost per module is set by its maintenance schedule. Sabina requires an elevated work platform (EWP) once a year to complete major maintenances, this directly impacts on the per module maintenance cost.

Apartments not requiring an EWP to complete major services have lower maintenance costs per module. 

Vertical living walls come in many shapes and sizes. The cost per module decrease with the volume of larger installations. Vertical living walls in private residences will only require servicing once or twice a year but will be much smaller and therefore more expensive per module to maintain.

Average costing per living wall module per month according to wall size,.

Vertical living wall maintenance costs

Maintenance Schedule

Sabina’s maintenance schedule is composed of three different types of maintenances carried out over 12 months.

1. Fertigation

The soils in specific modules are tested for acidity, salinity, electrical conductivity, moisture and nutrient levels. Based on the tests,  an optimal mix of liquid fertilisers are injected through the system. 

2. Minor Prune

Once a year dead and decaying leaves are pruned by accessing the modules from the carpark behind. This prepares the plants for summer.

3. Major Prune

Once every two years each module requires a major prune accessed from the front using an EWP. By removing lagging leaves and pruning weak shoots, the existing foliage is prioritised and thrives.

Long Term Growth

126 modules were installed with a capacity of 2,016 plants. However only 970 seedlings were planted to give each seedling greater root space and access to nutrients within each module.

Over time fewer plants will grow bigger and become resilient to the elements in ways that many small plants cannot.

Sabina Applescross Vertical Living Wall


Drippers are inserted through the geofabric and deliver water directly into the root system of each module.

The irrigation system is split into two hydrozones; the top 4 rows and the lower 3 floors. Another apartment building is planned on the northern face of the living wall that will shade the 3 lower floors in the future. Separating the two sections will allow less irrigation to the plants in half shade in the near future.

Each module is irrigated using four sets of Netafim eight litre per hour PCJ drippers, each with a 4-way manifold directing the eight litre per hour to four x arrow stakes embedded in each module. Each module gets 16 lph through the 16 embedded arrow drippers. Eight arrow drippers are inserted into the top of each module and the next four into the back of the module about 1/3 down and the next four in the back halfway down.

This ensures uniform irrigation within each module. To prevent the lowest modules getting too much water the Netafim PCJ drippers designed to snap shut after each irrigation holding back up to seven metres of pressure within the system. The non-drain feature is essential for

We monitor the system offsite as it is WIFI enabled and provides real-time information such as flow rate, consumption and pressure gauging.

The plants adapt to weather conditions by automatically changing irrigation schedules to reflect localised changes to temperature, rain and wind. Over time we smooth over shocks to the system and help it thrive.



We work with Finbar not just with Sabina , but with their other developments of Aurelia, Revo and Concerto.

Click here to see Finbar

Hunter Industries

Supplier of the water systems controller.

Click here to see Hunter Industries


Supplier of the low profile VGM Green Wall modules.

Click here to see Elmich


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3/14 Brolo Ct, O'Connor 6163, WA