What is a Living Wall?
Simply speaking, Green Walls or Living Walls are interior or exterior walls that are covered with vegetation. Familiar examples include ivy vines climbing the sides of buildings and ground covers cascading the slopes of retaining walls, but the Green Walls of today have undergone a transformation that has made room for wildly creative installations.
1. Green facades
Refers to plantings of vines, climbing plants or cascading groundcovers which grow into supporting structures placed on the wall or cling to the wall itself. These plants are generally rooted into the soil at the base of the wall and receive nutrients and water from this soil. Depending on the chosen plant material, green façades can take several years to establish as you wait for the plants to grow to maturity.
2. Living walls
These are self sufficient vertical gardens that are installed on the exterior or interior of a building. The vegetation of a modern living wall is rooted into the media contained in the wall structure (or module) and plants receive water and nutrients from within the compartments of the structural support, rather than from the ground. A great example of a modern living wall can be found greeting visitors at the YVR International Terminal. Living walls, and the concept of vertical gardening is gaining popularity as urban space becomes more scarce and people seek out creative methods to bring more green into their environment. Living walls allow for a greater choice of plant material than living facades.
3. Retaining Living Walls
These walls perform the same structural function as their non-green counterparts, but are specially engineered to stabilize a slope while supporting vegetation within their structure. Most systems are modular to allow for easy installation and consist of geo-textile bags combined with interlocking units, metal, concrete, plastic cellular confinement mats or woven willow plants. When mature, the supportive underlying features will be completely covered by vegetation and will not be visible.
Green walls can be installed for aesthetic purposes (a vertical piece of green art) or can be designed as a functional garden space (with tomato plants and herbs for example). Whatever their intended purpose, their environmental, social and economic benefits are similar to that of a living roof including air quality improvement, reduction of temperature fluctuations and mitigation of urban heat island effect, reduced energy consumption (due to reduction in temperature fluctuations), improved acoustics around building (sound absorption), contribution to LEED credits and much more.
There are many methods for erecting green walls that range from DIY building projects to purchasing vertical gardening systems from specialist suppliers. Living walls can be a bit challenging to maintain, mostly owing to the difficulties of gardening on a vertical plain, but these obstacles can be overcome with good planning and a comprehensive water management plan.
NATS produces a wide range of plant material for Living Walls and Green Facades.Plants for a Living Wall