Sustainable Landscape Design for Green Walls: Living Art for Modern Society
Today’s living walls boast entirely new technologies and provide environmental benefits far beyond yesteryear’s ivy-covered homes. A vertical take on green roofs, living walls are both beautiful and functional with a variety of intriguing design options for interior and exterior use.
What Green Walls Are All About
Green wall construction is much more involved than vertical garden designs of the past. There are two primary types – green facades, which can be freestanding or mounted on an existing wall, and living walls, a system of modular green wall panels that are attached to a frame or structure once the plants begin to grow.
Green facades feature hardy climbers, vines, and cascading ground-covers growing on lightweight trellis panels or a cable and wire system for support. The plants may be rooted at the base, on the rooftop, or in planters integrated into the support system.
This vegetated structure is then installed flush against the building or a few inches from the wall using mounting clips. The planting system provides support and prevents the vegetation from growing directly on the building to eliminate structural damage.
Living walls are more versatile. Compromised of pre-vegetated green wall panels, this type of construction provides immediate results and can support a wide variety of plant life.
Rather than waiting several years for full plant coverage like the requirements of green facades, living wall panels are planted 6 to 12 weeks ahead of time and typically grown horizontally until they’re ready for delivery and installation. When the panels are ready, a waterproof membrane is generally installed before mounting the sections onto the structure.
Maintenance and Care
With an effective maintenance plan, sustainable landscape design for green walls can provide a beautiful, environmentally responsible vertical garden that is relatively easy to tend.
Like a green roof, living walls capture rainwater to minimize the use of water resources. Because of the vertical design, however, a drip irrigation system and fertilizer loop is installed within the wall before the panels are mounted.
Most green wall panels feature plastic containers filled with a growing medium, often installed at a slant to support the selected plants.
A new green wall is watered daily during the first week to provide full saturation to the soil, then moisture is maintained through the irrigation system. A gravel strip is usually installed along the base of the structure to promote proper drainage and eliminate standing water.
Occasional pruning and dead-wooding is necessary to maintain the proper shape and color of a green wall. If required, plants or entire panels can be replaced. This maintenance is typically performed by a contracted professional.
Uses and Environmental Benefits
Green walls are much more than living, artistic masterpieces. The vertical greenery may take a number of forms – company logos, abstract designs, even characters – but every green wall construction also benefits the local ecosystem. Like green roofs, living walls reduce overall energy consumption by offering a natural cooling system. The abundant plant life sequesters carbon as well, without requiring additional limited resources like land and water.
Whether inside or outside, living walls can serve many different functions. Some are purely decorative, while others are constructed to nurture local wildlife.
The latest trends in sustainable landscape design for green walls provide the community with food through vertical vegetable gardens, offer grey-water filtering, and create valuable bio-fuel crops without sacrificing existing land.
The future of sustainable landscape design for green walls offers unlimited potential for both communities and the environment.