Individuals have been gardening since the dawn of time, using plants for food, medicines, building materials, clothing & simple decorative purposes. Although lately it is gaining in popularity, vertical gardening is not a new concept. Vertical gardens are found through out history. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, is one of the earliest know examples of a vertical garden. Vertical Gardens or Green Walls are becoming increasingly popular, especially in large cities where there is little land for traditional gardens but plenty of skyscrapers & condominiums.
Vertical gardens fall into two main categories, green facades & living walls, both of which utilize walls for plants to grow up. A green façade is the more popular version where climbing plants are planted directly in the ground & attached to a structure like a trellis, column, fence or wall. These types of vertical gardens can take years to create full coverage.
A Living wall is a self-contained vertical arrangement of plants that can be free standing or attached directly to the exterior or interior of a building. They typically use soil-less planting media & an irrigation system. Living walls can be created using a modular system, pre-planted panels, planted geo-textiles, or even simple stacked pots. Modular systems come in a variety of materials including plastic, polystyrene, fabric & metal.
There are many benefits to a vertical garden. Beside the fact that they are aesthetically pleasing & use less space than a traditional garden, an exterior living wall will reduce the ambient temperature, provide shade, remove airborne pollutants, filter noxious gases, produce oxygen, reduce noise pollution and help hide ugly walls as well as protects from UV damage. A beautiful example of an exterior wall is at the Musee du quai Branly a museum in Paris, France created by artist Patrick Blanc who is the leading pioneer of green walls.
Interior living walls have many of the same benefits of exterior living walls and they improve indoor air quality, reduce stress, use less water due to hydroponics style growing & can provide possible LEED points in new or renovated office spaces. The benefits for both interior & exterior living walls will vary depending on size & style of your living wall structure as well as types of plants & the site condition. Interior living walls can be free standing with basins that hold additional plants & even fish & have a pump irrigation system or they may be hung on a wall as a living piece of artwork. An artful example of a smaller interior living wall is the Living WallScape TM created by Backyard Getaway. No two green walls are the same. It is important to consider plant selection, Sedums; Succulents & Mosses are great choices. Climate conditions, such as temperature, light & maintenance, are also important when planning your vertical garden. Just like a traditional garden, your vertical garden has live plant materials & requires maintenance like adding water & nutrients on a regular basis. Choosing plants that are conditioned for your space will reduce the amount of maintenance needed. There are endless possibilities as to the creativity of your vertical garden.