An introduction to green walls

An introduction to green walls

Green wall, living wall

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A green wall is a type of vertical garden that provides an aesthetically pleasing addition to any space.

Sometimes called living walls, the most popular types of green walls are those which use traditional soil, but there are many different variations with artificial or natural elements.

This post will discuss the benefits and downsides of this trend in design, as well as some tips for choosing the right green wall for your home or office building.

What is a green wall?

There are two types of green wall and where both are green in colour, only one is “green” in the environmental sense.

Artificial green walls are decorated with plants, while natural green walls contain living plants.

Natural Green Wall: A wall that has been covered in vegetation and is the most common type of green wall.

The flora provide a number of benefits including beautification, air quality improvement, insulation from noise pollution and heat retention (energy efficiency).

This type of green wall is not as common because it requires a lot of maintenance.

Artificial Green Wall: A wall that has been decorated with plants and is becoming more popular for people who want to have some green space but do not have the time or money to maintain natural green walls.

Artificial walls are less expensive, easier and faster to install than natural ones, although they do not provide the same benefits.

Why are green walls becoming popular?

There are two main reasons why these gardens have become so popular in recent years: smaller spaces and environmental awareness.

With house prices on the rise all over the UK the gardens we can afford are getting smaller and smaller. This is forcing us to get more creative with our outdoor spaces.

When you live in an urban setting it’s difficult to find ways to incorporate greenery and nature into your environment.

Green walls are a new a novel way to bring that beauty into your home without taking up too much space.

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, green walls offer a whole range of health benefits from reducing carbon dioxide levels and improving moods to acting as air purifiers.

They also help with temperature control in the house by providing insulation during winter months.

Are green walls good for the environment?

For the environmentally conscious, green walls can be a fantastic way of adding more life to your home and doing your bit for the planet.

Ever since the 70’s, green walls have been popular in Europe.

They were originally used to make buildings look greener and more liveable. But, they are also beneficial for people that live near them because they absorb harmful gasses such as ozone and carbon monoxide and release oxygen during the day.

They create a healthier living environment which is easier on your immune system.  

Green walls provide an outdoor habitat for insects and other small creatures living in built up areas where there may be less space for them to thrive. 

Types of green wall

Climbing facades

Climbing plant for creating living wall

The easiest way to make a green wall is let nature take the lead.

Start with plants that are in the ground or in pots near the wall. Then build a frame for them to climb on top of and cover the whole wall with green. This is what certain plants do in nature so they can grow without getting pushed out by other plants.

To help plants grow higher, we can use different systems including wire mesh frames, trellises and steel cables.

We will use the frame based on what we want to do with it. Ivy plants are easy to grow on a wall or side of a building without any extra help from us.

We can use the frame to tell the plant where it should be growing or support different types of plants that are going up the wall.

Hydroponic

Hydroponic green wall

Hydroponic green walls do not use soil as the base. They are panels with plants, and they need to be attached to frames.

Hydroponic green walls usually need water so an electric pump is needed. This type of green wall is best for large commercial buildings where the support system makes sense.

Soil based

Soil based green walls

Soil based green walls are usually built using troughs or containers attached to the wall.

Plants are put in soil-based substrates similar to those used for green roofs. They are made of a lightweight material that has nutrients and is free-draining.

Water retention properties allow irrigation systems to be simple.

They are easy to install and maintain. But there is a problem with weight. New materials are being made that solve the problem of weight, but they might cost more.

Artificial green walls

Artificial green wall

As you would expect with the raise of green walls, demand for a low maintenance version has erupted too. Thanks to this there are plenty of options for artificial green walls. 

Artificial living walls don’t require irrigation and can be placed in shaded areas or indoors.

They are perfect in settings where water conservation is important since they require minimal amounts of maintenance to keep them looking good.

Artificial living walls are made from a lightweight material which includes synthetic materials like PVC sheeting to create the illusion of being lush and covered

Available in various professionally designed arrangements, this can be a great off the shelf solution if you are looking for a quick, low maintenance green wall.

Choosing the right green wall for your garden

With so many types of green wall available, which should you go for? To work that out you should ask a few key questions:

Where do you want it to go?

If you are looking to place the green wall indoors or in a shaded area you may be best with an artificial green wall.

If you want it outside in the sun, then a natural living wall may be best for you.

What is your budget?

A higher quality green wall will cost more but they come with excellent warranties and also last much longer than cheaper types of artificial or living walls.

The installation process can also vary based on what type of material you choose. If you go for any prebuilt solution other than artificial then you will likely need to pay for professional to install it.

How much time can you spend looking after it?

If you’re looking to cover the wall with vines, then it will need some time and attention each year. Likewise, soil based green walls can also require more time to maintain over the winter months.

If you are looking for something low maintenance, then artificial or prebuilt solutions may be best.

Is the environment a high priority for you?

We all differ in our perspectives on the environment and the part we play in maintaining it. If you are looking to favour a green wall that has the ability to filter air in an office building, then natural will be best.

Look into plants which are known to filter the air and provide food for insects if you want to maximise the benefits your green wall.

There are also some environmental benefits which are more immediate, such as the reduction of noise, air filtering and thermal efficiency of buildings.

What is your budget?

Green walls can be expensive to install and maintain, but this will depend on the type of green wall you choose.

The cost can range from £100 to £200 for a square metre if using artificial plants or prebuilt systems like trellises made out of steel wire.

The price usually comes down when building your own, but this will take more time and require some knowledge of green walls and their suitable plants.

How dense do you want the coverage to be?

Most green walls aim to cover the area entirely and achieve that very well however you can also opt for a lighter or more scattered covering. For full covering , you would need to plant more plants that are suitable and have the right density.

Where to buy green walls

There are many different systems to choose from. Most garden centres sell soil-based systems for vertical allotments and domestic green wall installations.

More sophisticated solutions exist for larger commercial green wall applications, together with a variety of irrigation solutions to suit.

If you are looking for artificial green walls then the internet is probably where you should start your search.

How to create your own green wall at home

Wall garden green wall

With some basic supplies and plants from your local nursery or hardware store you can create your own DIY green wall.

The basic idea is to use a frame made out of PVC pipes or wooden boards and then cover it with moss.

Choose some plants that suit the climate you live in, and make sure they are suitable for growing on vertical surfaces.

There are various designs which can work well with some being more simple and easy to construct than others.

Caring for your living wall

If you are watering your plants, don’t drench them in water because that will make the moss turn slimy and less effective.

Instead of using a garden hose or showerhead to water your living wall, an easy solution is to use cups or pitchers with small holes at the bottom so they can gradually release some water over time.

A neat trick is to cut the bottom off a bottle, put a few pin holes in the lid then fill it up and stick it in the plants at the top.

The water will slowly trickle down the from the top to the bottom of the green wall without causing damage to any of the plants.

Final thoughts

Green walls are quickly becoming the new trend in outdoor landscaping.

It’s no wonder why people are choosing to invest in these living, breathing structures that can add a sense of life and calmness into any space it occupies.

However, there are some drawbacks to green walls as well which should be considered before making your final decision on whether or not this is the right choice for you. 

After reading about what they do, how they work, where you can buy them and more we hope you found this guide on all things “green wall” helpful!

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