Watex Urban Farming Green Wall Kit: Product Review
A simple and effective vertical garden system with built-in irrigation
Available on Amazon
The Urban Farming Green Wall Kit (also called the Urban Farming Vertical Garden) from Watex provides everything you need (other than plants and potting mix) to create a vertical garden in almost any location. Watex is a California-based company that’s focused on water conservation and sustainable living, particularly in urban areas. Many of their products are built to let you grow vertically, rather than taking up limited space.
I received two identical kits so I could cover the wall beside the front door. Installing two kits gives you a ton of design flexibility when it comes to placing the pots and covers an area approximately 4′ x 3′ (the exact size depends on how closely you place the hanging bars and pots).
The kits are neatly packaged in a sturdy cardboard box, with all of the larger parts stacked together and the smaller parts sealed in plastic bags.
Included in each package:
- 4 small pots – dimensions: 5 x 6.5 x 5 inches (WxHxD)
- 2 medium pots – dimensions: 7 x 7.5 x 8 inches (WxHxD)
- 2 large pots – dimensions: 15.74 x 7.67 x 8.07 inches (WxHxD)
- 1 gutter
- 3 hanging bars
- 10 meters (30 feet) of 0.15″ tubing
- 1 8-liter/hour end dripper
The system is available with pots in your choice of 6 different colors: black, cool grey, terracotta, blue, yellow and green (although that doesn’t seem to be available anymore). The hanging bars and irrigation line are always black.
First, decide where you’ll install the kit. If you plan to use the built-in irrigation (and I strongly recommend that you do!), then it will need to be near, or easily accessible from, a faucet. Also be sure that the wall you’ll be mounting it to can hold the weight of the filled pots. You really can’t mount this on something like a chain link fence or lightweight trellis, even if you can find a way to attach the hanging bars.
To install the Green Wall Kit, you’ll need a bubble level and either a Phillips head screwdriver or a power drill/driver with a Phillips bit (that makes it much easier to drive in the screws – you’ll need to put in 6 screws for each kit you install). You’ll probably also want a pencil and measuring tape to measure and mark out where each hanging bar will go.
The ease of installation depends on the surface to which you’re mounting the bars. Obviously, it’s easier to mount it on a wooden wall or fence (that’s what I did) rather than on a brick or masonry wall. Just be sure you use the right screws or anchors for the surface.
I couldn’t tell from the instructions which side was “up” when hanging the rails. The top and bottom are different (so the pots hang slightly differently from them) but either way seems to work. However, after looking at the video on the Watex website, I think the proper way to hang the rails is what’s shown in the photo below. That way, the pots don’t lean forward quite as much.
Once the hanging bars are mounted, you simply hook the pots over the bars and arrange them however you like.
Filling the Pots
Don’t fill the pots to the top. Because the pots tilt forward when hanging on the rails, water will pour off the front of overfilled pots when you water them (especially if the potting mix is dry), rather than being absorbed by the potting mix. That creates quite a mess of wet potting mix on the ground and wall beneath the planter system. By leaving an inch of space below the pot rim, you’ll avoid that whole issue.
Each pot has a grill at the bottom that leaves a small water reservoir under the potting mix. I’m not sure if it’s intended to help keep the potting mix moist, but I found that even in the dry heat of a Tucson summer, the mix stayed moist considerably longer than that in similarly-sized pots. In other words, I didn’t need to water the Watex system nearly as much as I’d expected.
There’s a hole in the bottom of each pot that drains any excess water to prevent plant roots from sitting in water. Depending on how it’s hung on the rail, water coming out the bottom of the pots either dribbles down the wall (so don’t place the system on an interior surface or anything that can be damaged by water) or drips into the pot below. When I first set up the Green Wall Kit, I had a bit of trouble with the dripping water compacting and/or washing out the soil in the pots below. But, over time, the potting mix settled and the problem abated. I think it was because I initially filled the pots too full.
To install the irrigation, start with one of the pots at the end of the bottom row. Attach the end dripper to the ¼-inch tubing and place the emitter in the middle of the pot near the back. Measure to the middle back of the next pot and cut the ¼-inch tubing to that length. Attach an inline dripper, measure to the next pot, cut the tubing, attach an emitter, and keep repeating until each pot has an inline emitter in it. The large pots will take 2 emitters. Then run the remaining ¼-inch tubing to the nearest faucet or hose end.
If you’re installing two kits, you’ll need to find an extra emitter (I used a ½ gallon emitter from my drip system) or only put a single dripper in one of the large pots. Each kit has 9 inline drippers and 1 end emitter so if you attach two systems together you’ll have an extra end dripper and one too few inline emitters.
The ¼-inch tubing that comes with the kit is softer than I’m used to working with. It’s a little tricky to get onto the emitters – when you push or twist it to insert the barbed end of the emitter into the tubing, it ends up bending or kinking a bit. Slightly stiffer tubing would’ve been better.
The emitters themselves are also different than I’m used to. When installing them, be sure that water flows into the barbed end without the “wings.” At first I thought that the “wings” were to adjust the amount of water coming out of the emitter but after turning one slightly while water was running I found out that’s not the case. Instead, the emitter came apart and water blew all over the place. It seems like they’re just meant to let you take the emitter apart in case it gets clogged.
Since they don’t seem to be adjustable, be aware that the emitters put out a lot of water.
To make it easy to keep the plants properly watered, I hooked up the irrigation tubing to the Melnor Sunrise Timer using the included faucet adapter. The timer turned on the water for 5 minutes at dawn every day without me having to think about it.
Ideally, however, watering every 2nd day or for only 1-2 minutes at a time would’ve been better – I got quite a bit of excess water draining down the wall and pooling on the ground. Next time I’ll hook up the system to a timer that will let me do that (the Melnor Sunrise Timer is fantastic but doesn’t let you water for less than 5 minutes and only has one frequently setting – daily at dawn).
While I connected the irrigation to a faucet, you could also connect it to a pump (for example, from a rain barrel). However, simply connecting it directly to a rain barrel without a pump won’t work – it needs water pressure to force water through the entire irrigation line.
Initially, I was concerned that the system wouldn’t make it through the summer. When temperatures reach over 115F for days on end, some types of plastic soften and bend.
After a few weeks, I noticed that the soft plastic rails had bent in the heat and from the weight of the hanging pots. The pots had also deformed, stretching away from the wall and bending downward.
The good news is that the system seemed to “toughen up” after that. Parts stopped bending, nothing broke and nothing fell off the wall (which has happened with other vertical garden systems I’ve tested!). And even now that colder weather has arrived, the plastic hasn’t gotten brittle.
Six months later, after making it through an exceedingly hot summer, everything is still running perfectly and my vertical garden looks fantastic. This is the only vertical growing system I’ve tested where everything survived a Tucson summer – and all without me having to do anything other than occasionally fertilize and deadhead or prune.
I grew flowers in my Watex system, as well as herbs in the small pots. You could also grow veggies and trailing plants. Just be sure that the mature size of the plants won’t be too big for the pots and location (for example, don’t try an indeterminate tomato plant!).
Although some people have suggested using the kit indoors, I wouldn’t recommend that. Water is going to run down the wall behind the pots, no matter how careful you are when watering. Don’t mount it on anything that could be easily damaged by water.
Anything that can survive the extremes of a Tucson summer is a winner in my book. The Watex Urban Farming Green Wall Kit is simple to install, gives you multiple design options, and keeps plants nicely irrigated with minimal effort on your part. It’s the best vertical garden system I’ve used to date.
Where to buy
The kit can be purchased on Amazon as the Watex PGWSK-2 Urban Farming Vertical Garden. The price varies with the color of the pots, with black being the least expensive. It’s also available directly from the company through their website where it’s called the Urban Design Green Wall Kit and is available only in black (and at a higher price point).
Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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