Vertical Greening With Stainless Steel Cable Mesh & Climbing Plants

Different types of exposed side slopes and slopes are formed during the start of excavation for construction works. For soil and rocky slopes and earthy slopes, they have a high capacity for ecological self-healing due to their gentle gradient. Within a short period of time, they can achieve ecological restoration by themselves or with artificial assistance. However, for high and steep side slopes, shotcrete slopes, grouted rubble slopes, etc., ecological restoration is more difficult. The existing technology system cannot solve all the problems of slope vegetation restoration. Therefore, it is urgent to find a solution to the vegetation restoration technology of high and steep near-vertical rocky side slopes, shotcrete slopes, and grouted rubble slopes.

Stainless steel cable mesh combined with vertical greening technology of climbing plants is a solution. Stainless steel cable mesh is fixed on the high and steep near-vertical slope (the slope is stable or hardened), and planting grooves of certain specifications are set at the foot of the slope. Planting vine climbing or shrub plants in the planting groove, relying on their climbing and vertical greening effect, to create an ecological landscape effect of the slope eventually covered by vegetation.

Using stainless steel cable mesh combined with vertical greening technology way of climbing plants can control the plant growth within the artificial ability, improve the ability of rapid plant growth, improve the biological coverage ability, and complete the slope coverage within 2–3 years. The construction of this engineering technology is fast and effective, which can greatly shorten the construction period and meet the needs of engineering construction. It is also economical and simple and can save a large amount of production and construction funds.

Before and after stainless steel cable mesh planting climbing plants
Vines of green plants climb in spirals on a stainless steel rope mesh.

Design Basis

In a large number of engineering constructions in the formation of high and steep near-vertical rocky side slopes, shotcrete slopes, and grouted rubble slopes, the gray protection of the slope surface and the main ecological environment of the project is not coordinated, greatly affecting the ecological landscape effect of the project area, which puts forward the following design ideas:

  • Fix the stainless steel cable mesh on the surface of high and steep near-vertical rocky side slopes, shotcrete slopes, and grouted rubble slopes.
  • Utilizing the mesh opening of stainless steel cable mesh provides climbing plants with a surface carrier that can be quickly climbed, promotes the growth of climbing plants, and accelerates the covering speed of slope vegetation.

Combined with the nature of climbing and the fast-growing biological characteristics of climbing plants artificially establish a good environment for plant growth, improve the slope covering speed of plants, and complete the ecological restoration of high and steep side slopes.

Design Requirement

The height of near-vertical rocky side slopes, shotcrete slopes, and grouted rubble slopes and side slopes are generally stable, there is no side slope slippage, landslides, and loose falling rocky situation on the slope surface of the rocky slope and so on. This type of protection can also be used for rocky slopes with slope grades greater than 90°.

Stainless steel cable mesh is installed on external surface of the building for decoration.

Construction Processes

  • Installation of stainless steel cable mesh:
    • Slope surface cleaning: Mainly clean up the debris, in order to lay the foundation for the installation of the cable mesh.
    • Installation of expansion nails: Drill the position where the expansion nails need to be installed with the corresponding electric drill equipment. The specifications of expansion nails are 12 mm, the installation of expansion nails in the horizontal spacing of 2 m, and the vertical spacing of 1.5 m.
    • Installation of stainless steel cable mesh: Install the stainless steel cable mesh from the side slope from top to bottom, and select the mesh opening around 10–12 cm, specifications: 3 m × 10 m per piece (can be adjusted according to the actual situation of the specifications), due to the irregular structure of the side slope, need to carry out a localized cutting, level and straighten the cable mesh. Next, fix the cable mesh and expansion nails in the corresponding position with a cable or rope clip.
    • Pay attention to construction safety, strictly comply with construction safety management, safety helmet, safety belt, safety rope should be in place.
  • Planting groove at the foot of slope: Excavate planting holes or build planting grooves at the foot of the slope, dig pits along the inside of the drainage ditch at the foot of the slope, and adopt inwardly inclined planting grooves, which can effectively prevent the rain from washing away and avoid the loss of the substrate of the climbing plant cup seedlings.
    • Combined with the actual slope and planting groove economical, beautiful, and practical factors, according to the actual situation, we design the cable mesh into a long strip, specifications: 500 cm × 120 cm × 120 cm per piece, and build it with red bricks. Inside and outside of the surfaces are smeared with mortar, planting groove is close to the foot of the slope at the construction. And reserve a number of small holes at the bottom of the outside of the planting tank to prevent water from accumulating in the tank and causing the plant to die. A distance of 30 cm should be left between two planting grooves for the timely discharge of water from the catchment surface of the side slope, and the thickness of the reserved fill should be more than 100 cm to maintain sufficient soil for plant growth at a later stage. Planting grooves in other similar places can be designed into semi-circular, rectangular, and other shapes according to the actual situation on site.
    • Fill with nutrient soil. Lay 2–3 cm of fine gravel at the bottom of the planting groove to prevent drowning during the rainy season, then fill the tank with well-rotted farmyard manure mixed thoroughly with loose planting soil but select tillage soil 30–40 cm below the surface for initial plant growth to avoid seedling injury due to fertilizer.
  • Climbing plants planting
    • According to the principle of combining the suitability, ornamental, and utility of plant selection, climbing plants such as creeper, pyrostegia venusta, ficus, kudzu, euonymus fortunei, and mucuna sempervirens can be selected as planting objects, and two or three of them can be selected as collocation or a single species can be planted.
    • Planting of plants: The plants are planted with strong seedlings of two years old or above, and the spacing of planting would better be around 30–50 cm, and fix the plants to cable mesh with ropes. After planting, prune the leaves of the plants to facilitate the survival of the seedlings.
  • Maintenance management of plants
    • After planting, water the roots.
    • Watering to implement the "water plantings in dry days until the potting soil is completely soaked" principle, to maintain the growth of the water supply of the plant, until survival of plant. Water used for maintenance management should be non-toxic and free of harmful substances and other ingredients that affect plant growth. At the same time, in the hot summer, according to the actual situation, open the main valve switch of automatic sprinkler irrigation, to keep the slope in a moist state, without affecting the normal growth of plants.
    • Apply fertilizer at the right time and do a good job of preventing pests and diseases.
    • Do a good job of removing weeds, and in the pre-growth process of plants, timely artificial traction on plants, so that plants can grow along the cable mesh, in order to achieve the purpose of rapid greening of rocky side slopes.

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