The concept of a vertical garden which is commonly referred to as a living wall was initially introduced by French Botanist Patrick Blanc. In the last few years the concept of vertical gardening and living walls has inspired people to essentially paint with plants. The beauty of this art form is that almost anything can be used as a canvas. Some of the most stunning vertical gardens are displayed in hotels, art galleries, museums, airports, corporate offices, and adorn the outside of high rise buildings.

Types of Living Walls

There are 3 main categories of living walls: wall-climbing, hanging-down, and module.

Wall-climbing plants don’t usually require much by way of support since they are either planted directly into the ground, or in pots or planters. These plants grow upwards without much assistance. However, if a certain pattern or shape of growth is desired, a trellis can be used, and vines can be “trained” by being manually directed and gently fixed to the trellis or other structure.

Hanging-down plants are planted in a container that is raised off of the ground, and requires a solid support structure to manage the weight of the planter especially when it contains water. That is when the pot/planter will be the heaviest.

Module plants are usually small, and the construction of this type of design takes more planning as the water system it requires is vertical, as opposed to horizontal in the other categories. Due to the setup and more advanced design elements, this design method is usually the most expensive.

Health Benefits

Plants have restorative effects which help reduce stress, help boost the immune system, and enhance creativity. Plants also help with concentration, productivity, and have a positive effect on mood. In the same way pets can help people feel like they have a sense of purpose, creating a beautiful garden can have the same effects. There is even some evidence that having plants in hospitals promotes faster healing. In a study published by NASA in July of 1989, house plants were shown to remove toxins like benzene and trichloroethylene in a controlled environment.

Environmental Benefits

Plants are helpful when it comes to cooling the environment around them in two main ways. One is by providing shade, and another is through a process called evaporate transpiration. Plants are known to be capable of filtering pollutants from the air and help to improve air quality and reduce carbon dioxide. In areas that are subject to large amounts of precipitation, living walls can even help prevent flooding by absorbing excess water that would otherwise runoff into storm drains. Interestingly living walls can also reduce noise. Plants are capable of absorbing different frequencies of sound which decreases noise burden. Depending on the size of a living wall, it can also help with insulation. This means that less energy is required to cool a building during the summer and heat it during the winter.

Why Create a Living Wall?

Planting vertically saves space which is especially important for people who live in small spaces. Living walls are aesthetically pleasing, and with a little bit of inspiration, you can bring these gorgeous pieces of art into your home. The decorating possibilities are endless. You can also create a living wall that is more practical for your lifestyle. For example, you can create one with garden herbs you regularly use for cooking. Or you can grow your own tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and other produce which might save you a trip to the grocery store and help save some money. The possibilities are endless.

*Originally published on the Inpathy Bulletin

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