Plants On Walls

Living WallYou already know about green roofs. But green walls? Yes! A friend interested in interior design introduced me to the notion of living walls and it didn’t take much to discover how fast the idea is catching on. Also called “vertical gardens,” the idea is being championed by a number of eco-minded builders of both large buildings and small. Businesses devoted specifically to living walls are popping up, self-contained living-wall units are available and some cities are encouraging their use.

Vertical gardens can be designed for both inside and outside walls. The benefits are many. Most obvious are aesthetic. “When I walk by, it’s calming, just a little more serene, maybe a little bohemian,” says one living wall owner in this Wall Street Journal story. “I call it Prozac on a wall,” says another. A living wall adds color, texture and interest. But that’s not all. Having a wall of plants will naturally filter the air, removing pollutants that make indoor air often more dangerous than out. Indoor living walls provide insulating value, reducing heating and cooling costs. On outside walls, a vertical garden will help protect the structure from strong sunlight as well as keep it cool. Outside living walls also shield the inside from noise. Inside living walls improve acoustics.

One high-end New York restaurant uses a living wall to impart an herbal scent to its dining room. Can growing vegetables on inside walls be far behind?

There are considerations when installing living walls. Self-contained units make it easy but they must be dependable. Watering system failure could leave you with a flood. Too much moisture could encourage mold and rot. Some indoor living wall designers provide ongoing care which might guarantee the success of your wall but cost you a pretty penny in the process. Good gardening skills will help assure the well-being of any vertical garden.

Here’s a large photo gallery of living walls both indoors and out. And here is one of the most beautiful walls we’ve seen, this one of succulents in San Francisco.

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