In this work, we discuss experiments and discrete element simulations of wall-bounded shear flows of slightly polydisperse spheres under gravity. Experiments were performed in an annular shear cell in which the bottom bumpy wall rotates at fixed velocity, while a pressure is applied at the top bumpy wall. The coaxial cylinders delimiting the flow are flat, frictional and transparent, allowing visualization of the flow. Velocity profiles were obtained by particle image velocimetry, and are characterized by an exponential profile, the decay length of which depends on the applied load, but not on the wall velocity. A force sensor was installed at different vertical positions on the outer sidewall in order to measure wall forces. The effective streamwise and transverse wall friction coefficients were thus estimated, showing wall friction weakening in creep zones. In order to better understand these results, contact dynamics simulations were carried out in a simplified configuration (Artoni & Richard, Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 115 (15), 2015, 158001). In this case, profiting from the possibility of varying the particle–wall friction coefficient, different flow regimes were observed. In particular, shear can either be localized (1) at the bottom or (2) at the top of the shear cell, or (3) it can be quite evenly distributed in the vertical direction. Through an averaging technique that explicitly takes into account gradient effects (Artoni & Richard, Phys. Rev. E, vol. 91 (3), 2015, 032202), relevant, coarse-grained, continuum fields (solid fraction, velocity, stresses, velocity fluctuations) were obtained. They allow a discussion of the relevance of velocity fluctuations (i.e. granular temperature) for describing non-locality in granular flow. The case of solid-like fluctuations is also addressed. Finally, a simplified stress analysis is devoted to explain the emergence of complex shear localization patterns by the heterogeneity of effective bulk friction, which is due to the joint effect of gravity and wall friction.