Living Walls' Benefits Extend Beyond Their Beauty

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Vertical gardens, which transform plain walls into lush landscapes, are being employed as signature architectural features in interior and exterior spaces.

“Luxury clients, especially, perceive them as a differentiator, a status art piece,” says Irina Kim Sang, managing partner of Miami Vertical Garden.

Denise Eichmann, a senior project manager for Ambius, a global interior-landscaping company, says living, or green, walls are popular partly because “plants on a vertical space don’t take up any square footage,” and “sitting next to a living wall can feel like you’re being shaded by a canopy of trees.”

Inside, living walls open up small spaces and connect rooms in open-plan homes. With few options for outdoor art available, green walls fill the void, even during winters in cold climates. “Living walls have been popular in Europe for 40 years,” Kim Sang says, adding that interest in the United States has room to grow. “They are also popular in Asia. Hong Kong is a top buyer.”

HOW THEY WORK

The gardens, which require sophisticated irrigation and illumination systems, are planted into walls in modular trays or pockets or in hydroponic setups with saturated sponges. They are usually $90 to $250 per square foot and can include thousands of plants.

“A true vertical garden that has a continuous root zone behaves like a regular garden,” says Oscar Warmerdam, president of Virginia-based Sempergreen. “We often prune them two times a year because the plants will grow two to four feet off the wall.”

BENEFITS OF LIVING WALLS

Living walls off er many benefits beyond their beauty: They increase oxygen, create natural humidity, reduce particle pollution, save energy, and buff er noise. Studies have shown that a connection with nature reduces eye strain, fatigue, and stress.

“Living walls are dynamic. They have motion and rhythm,” says Jack Mascharka, senior designer for John Mini Distinctive Landscapes in Congers, N.Y. “If you can create that effect, the wall will always deliver delight.”