Try Googling ‘plant wall’ and discover the vast array of surprising and creative designs using vertical green which have been produced over the past few years. This is actually quite a recent development. This article sums up both history and application possibilities.

 

The first plant walls

The development of green walls started when Professor Stanley Hart White invented the plant wall and botanist Patrick Blanc started controversially greening some boring building walls in Paris in 1988. His designs enjoyed worldwide fame. These vertical gardens aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but definitely very useful too. For example, towns which have little space for green areas are still given the opportunity to give nature its rightful place. Ugly old walls can be given a completely new lease of life with green plant combinations. An increasing number of project designers and architects now also include these plant walls in their interior designs.

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Psychological value

Lots of green within a small area triggers something between the ears. It doesn’t matter whether these are feelings of freedom, holiday, tranquillity or socialising. Most people experience it as pleasant. Green has a positive effect on people’s wellbeing for several different reasons. Various different research projects have demonstrated that plants can stimulate creativity and faster recovery after an illness. The latter has resulted in many organisations in the healthcare sector now devoting attention to green in both their interior and exterior.

Aesthetic value

Plant walls have many properties which are experienced as incredibly valuable by interior specialists. Consider the variation in green shades, adding structure to a wall and the continuously changing décor through growth. You can create a modern, quiet and clean look by choosing your plants solitarily. Various different types of plants planted in rows will result in intriguing lines. Plus you can choose a plant combination with a variety of different shapes and colours for the most natural and exuberant look. Dynamic and surprising!

Acoustic value

Research conducted by Roby van Praag at TU Delft has indicated that plant walls can considerably improve the acoustics in a specific area. The sound absorption coefficient for a plant wall is between 70 and 80 percent. This naturally depends on the area and plant wall’s surface area.

Sustainable value (health)

Plant walls provide a very sustainable contribution to working and learning environments. Humidity levels in a room are increased as a result of the evaporation of approximately 500-800 cc of water per m2 every day. As offices often don’t have sufficient humidity levels, people who work there will often suffer from dry eyes, a dry throat and nose, irritated airways and headaches. Plants are also capable of consuming CO2, which can naturally purify the air in a room. Health complaints and absenteeism will be reduced by improving the office climate. The positive impact of plants in classrooms has also been demonstrated. Click on the following links for the ‘plants at work’ literature study and research conducted about ‘plants in the classroom’. Materials used for constructing plant walls are mostly biodegradable and/or recyclable.

Large scale application

An automated watering system is recommended if you are thinking of installing a plant wall of >15 m2 or at a greater height. You can choose between a closed system with a water reservoir and pump, or a system connected to the water supply. The remaining care can be organised with a maintenance contract, further details of which are provided in the care section.

plant wall

Green wall in town hall of Lelystad

Non-automated systems will often need to be manually watered twice a week. This can partly be done by the customer himself and partly by an interior planting company. Or you can completely contract it out. It would definitely be useful to compare the costs of a long term maintenance contract and an investment in an automated system.

The Modulogreen plant wall is a top quality and ultimately environmentally friendly system for large scale applications. This system’s modular structure makes it suitable for many applications, both inside and outside. You can read more about the technical features here.

Small scale application

Various different systems are also available for using plant walls in smaller projects, classrooms or homes. You can even purchase a variety of DIY packages online. However, these are more suited to a hobby type of atmosphere and are not recommended for a business or private situation where reliability and carefreeness are a condition. Don’t forget that water can do a great deal of damage if it isn’t being used professionally. A reliable and multifunctional system for both business and private use is the Green Screen plant wall. It measures 2 meters in height and is 1.25 meters wide, with a water reservoir and pump.

modular green wall

The Modulogreen system

Plant wall as a room divider

A plant wall can also effectively be used as a dividing wall between workplaces or, for example, to separate coffee corners and meeting rooms. Both the Modulogreen and the Green Screen can be planted on both sides and, if so required, can be easily moved with a wheel base.

Types of plants and layout styles

The choice for the type of planting is dependent on the amount of light, the required layout style and the type of plant wall. You can also use various different types of flowering plants, although this will increase the frequency of the plant replacements. An experienced interior planter will be able to come up with a unique design of plant combinations which is suitable for the area or room to be designed. Click here for more plant wall project photographs.

Caring for your plant wall

Plants need to be looked after. Even if the plant wall is watered by a completely automated system, additional maintenance activities will still be required. This would include pruning, checking for plant diseases and possibly combating these, administering food and cleaning the plants. Plus you will also need to occasionally adjust the amount of water given during the summer and winter periods and check technical matters like the pump and distribution hoses. Different systems will require different types of care and maintenance. The interior planter who installs the plant wall will be able to take responsibility for this care via a maintenance contract.

By: 24th July 2013