Author: Alicia (page 2 of 3)

Why create a Living Wall in Your Garden, Home or Office?

Vertical gardens are stunning, and plants create wonderful visually appealing walls which can turn drab concrete into something spectacular. Also, vertical gardens are perfect for the space poor – as now it’s possible to have a garden even if it’s not horizontal. But, despite the obvious visual aesthetics of a having a living wall what are the other benefits and why should you turn your boring concrete into something quite remarkable?

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Improved Energy Efficiency

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Living walls are an excellent solution to improving a buildings thermal insulation. Once you install a living wall, you’ll more than likely find energy reductions in either heating and cooling of the building.

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The amount of energy saved varies, and of course is influenced by many different variants. Influencing factors include: climate, distance from the side of buildings and the density of the plant coverage.  Other benefits include:

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–         living walls create excellent wind protection during winter months

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–         Interior living walls help reduce the energy required for heating / cooling the outdoor air for indoor use

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–         limits movement of heat through thick vegetation mass

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–         the living wall structure is able to reduce the ambient temperatures by offering shading

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Building Structure Protection

All buildings are exposed to the elements and weathering over a period of time. Buildings expand and contract and these shifts and movements might occur because of heat, where perhaps the building is directly exposed to UV rays. Or maybe the building shifts because it is exposed to extreme cold weather and freezing temperatures.  A living wall has huge benefits because the plants protect the building against the weather fluctuations. Also, the living wall is great protection from those windy days which helps with seals or air tightness of doors and windows.

 

Improved Indoor Air Quality

A great benefit of having plants indoors is that they are natural filters. Living walls are able to help remove contaminates that are normally flushed of buildings through traditional filtration systems. The plants capture airborne pollutants such as dust and pollen as well as filtering noxious gases, VOC’s from carpets and furniture.

 

Noise Reduction

The plants growing inside the living wall system will help contribute to an overall reduction of noise that transmits or reflects from the wall.  Buildings sitting on busy roads are hugely benefited because the living wall acts to block out noise.  The amount of noise reduction and sound the living wall is able to filter out does depend on the depth of the plants, the plants and materials used as well as the structural components when creating the living wall.

 

How to get all these benefits:

It’s very easy to DIY a vertical garden. But,  you need to find the right vertical garden panels to suit your garden design. Depending on the style of your home or office there are very nice stainless steel vertical garden panels.  My personal favorite are the Cedar Herb garden panels (so you can have the added benefit of having a herb garden).   Good luck!

 

The History of Living Walls

A living wall is … is a vertical arrangement of plants and other organisms that naturally remove toxins and unhealthy contaminants from the air that we breathe. They can be a complete ecosystem or a simple configuration of plants and they have been introduced to decontaminate urban environments. Living walls are both indoor and outdoor.

 

Why plants? Plants in their very nature have served the earth. They have been essential sources to us humans and plants have supplied us with food, clothing and shelter. Now, more than half of the world’s population lives in an industrial cities where concrete structures dominate. However, with the push for healthier environments the world is turning back to green and designers, architects and planners are including plants as a way to improve existing infrastructural aesthetics. Also, green infrastructure is said to provide cleaner air and water, and improve the overall environment, human health and human mental wellbeing.

 

History repeating itself?  Vertical gardens aren’t new. In fact, they’re an ancient concept with examples in architectural history reaching the Babylonians.  One of the seven wonders of the ancient world includes the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  

History says that Romans used to train grapevines, on garden trellises and on villa walls. Also, climbing roses were the symbols of secret gardens.

 

1920’s: There was a garden city moment  from the British and Americans which encouraged the integration of garden features and plant usage, for example, using pergolas, trellis structures and self climbing plants.

1988: There was the introduction of the stainless steel cable for green facades.

1990s: Cable and wire rope net systems and modular tellis panel systems enter the market place

1993: The first major application of the new trellis panel system was featured at the Universal City Walk in California. It’s a stunning example of what a lovely feature plants can make in a city.

1994: InCanada, in theCanadaLifeBuildinginToronto, an indoor living wall was created an indoor with bio-filtration system

2002: A stunning example of a living wall is found in theMFOPark. It is multi-tiered approximately 300 inches long and 50 inches high. The park structure opened inZurich,Switzerland. This project had 1,300 plants.

 

2005: Japanese Federal government sponsored a massive Bio Lung exhibit, the centre piece of the expo in AichiJapan. This wall had 30 different modular systems available inJapan.

2007:Seattleimplements the Green Factor, which includes green walls.

Today: If you are decorating, you always have the option to implement a green wall whether its internally or externally. All you have to do is make sure that your wall will get enough sunlight.  It might be wise to check out some of the kits which are very easy to use and put together http://www.uzplanters.com/Vertical-Garden-Panels/GroVert-Living-Walls/.

 

Also, when creating a living wall – it is also a piece of living artwork! So, have fun and think carefully about the plants that you wish to include. To ensure that you get the maximum environmental benefits  there are specific plants which are perfect for helping reduce toxins including: bamboo, chrysanthemums, spider plants, English ivy, elephant ear philodendron, peace lily.

Van Gogh Vertical Garden in London’s Trafalgar Square

Must see: For the first time ever, a painting has been brought to life and made into a living wall!  It’s exciting and it’s spectacular and when you first walk past , you might think that it’s actually a painting. But look closely – plants!!!  Anyway, this piece of art is  available for the world to see until October 2012.  So, if you’re inLondon for the Olympics, get yourself to Trafalgar Square and plant yourself in front of the wall of the National Gallery (which also has free entry) and check out this spectacular piece of living wall art.

The National Gallery together with GE selected a painting called ‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’. This work of art was painted by Van Gogh whilst he was a patient at the St-Remy mental asylum. Note: the original work of art is available for viewing in Room 45 of the National Gallery.  Remember, that this painting was crafted by one man in 1889. Now, to create living wall art of the same caliber and complexity using plants, a team of designers had to form together to develop a plan,  bringing the masterpiece back to life.

 

 

How they created the living wall art: To recreate the genius of Van Gogh the designers were essentially using a different medium which brought many different issues of texture and colour. They selected over 8,000 plants and used more than 26 varieties to mimic the strong bands of colour which are found in the original picture. The varieties included in the design had to match the different brush strokes and the different textures.

 

The designers used a Living Walling System. The system they used had 640 modules which were grown before in a nursery. A predetermined design was important to ensure that they could match the painting. Grid-like modules were used which indicated where varieties should be planted.

 

Once the plants had mostly grown, the individual modules were transported to London. The plants had to be put together in the right sequence to create the picture as a whole.

 

Within a tight timeframe of three days, the modules were then hung vertically inTrafalgar Square for the world to see the incredible living wall.

 

The living wall does need slight maintenance and this is carried out fortnightly throughout the UK spring and summer. The general maintenance includes visual checks of plant health, watering and pruning. However, this walling system does include an in-built irrigation system to ensure that the plants are watered regularly.

 

 

Why did they do it: The National Gallery embarked on this project to stimulate interest in its paintings. Also, the National Gallery has a commitment to being environmentally responsible and they have a plan to increase energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions by up to 40% within a four year period. This single but spectacular project alone is 62% of the gallery’s target emissions.

 

 

How to Find it: Travelling roundLondon head straight to Trafalgar Square. Your closet tube stations are Charring Cross /Piccadilly Circus / Leicester Square Underground station. It’s an easy walk from there!

 

Comments: Please send us a comment if you have seen it or if you have any questions on how you can create something like this!

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