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Humanizing Trees: The Fascinating Research of Suzanne Simard

“The forest is more than what you see,” ecologist Suzanne Simard beamed from the Ted stage in 2016. Simard, who has spent the last three decades studying the mechanisms that fuel our forests, then went on to demystify the “quiet, cohesive way of the woods,” explaining that trees—in many ways—are just like us.

Thanks to a complex system of minerals and chemical reactions underground, these booming beauties can actually communicate, protect their kin, and defend each other in times of need.

Simard’s research has paved the way to a new era of tree conservation and served as a beautiful reminder that, for better or for worse, all of nature is intricately connected.

The science fueling our forests

Now a professor at the University of British Columbia, Simard began her research entrenched in the forests of Canada. Convinced that trees’ root systems alluded to a secret language being spoken underground, Simard set out to prove her thesis that trees can indeed sense and respond to each other’s needs.Plant Services

The process she used to do so was simple but sophisticated: She pumped radioactive gas into the base of birch, fir, and cedar trees and monitored how each one handled the excess carbon. In the end, the birch and fir trees engaged in what Simard refers to as a “lively two-way conversation”, transferring carbon to one another in different ratios throughout the year. As one tree grew, the stagnant tree passed over some extra nutrients to help fuel the process, and visa versa.

“Forests aren’t simply collections of trees. They’re complex systems with hubs and networks that overlap and connect trees, allow them to communicate, and provide avenues for feedback and adaptation,” she explained during her Ted talk.

A phenomenon known as mycorrhiza, or “fungus root”, is driving this symbiotic reaction. Essentially, all trees are supported by a robust network of fungi that provide them with water and nutrients in exchange for carbohydrates formed during photosynthesis. These fungi extend underground and connect trees with their neighbors. When it’s all mapped out, this fungal network under the forest floor almost resembles a highway—weaving and dipping between the important landmarks. Larger trees are more saturated with nutrients, and therefore more “roads” lead to them.

What makes this so incredible is that the fungi serve as conduits for trees to support each other. Simard’s research out in the forest and inside the lab has found that trees can signal to each other when they need nutrients to grow, yes, but they have also been found to send sort of distress signals when they are in danger to warn others of impending threats. She’s also found that “mother” trees, older ones that are connected to hundreds of seedlings, can even recognize their own kin and send more nutrients to them, increasing the rate of seedling survival by up to four times.

Trees aren’t the only organisms that have this mycorrhizal relationship—there’s ongoing research on the connections that fuel our grasslands and other ecosystems too.

Why it matters

While this underground network is beneficial in many ways, it also speaks to the vulnerability of nature. After all, when everything is connected, disturbances tend to reverberate. When a mother tree, also known as a hub tree, dies off, the entire forest feels it.Phoenix Plant Service

It’s fitting that the majority of Simard’s work has been done in Canada, which has one of the highest forest disturbance rates in the world. According to the Global Forest Watch database, a living picture of deforestation around the world, the country loses an average of about 33 million hectares of canopy cover a year and gains only 9 million back. And the trend isn’t exclusive to Canada: From 2001 to 2017, the world lost 337 million hectares of tree cover, a 8.4 percent decrease.

While some of this loss is driven by industrial deforestation, rising temperatures, increasingly severe forest fires, and invasive species are also to blame. As global warming continues to alter the makeup of our planet, trees are bearing the brunt of it.

How it can drive conservation efforts

There’s a reason that Simard embraces words like “communicate”, “mother”, and “conversation”—ones that fall outside of the scientific lexicon—when referring to the secret life of trees. “We as human beings can relate to this better,” she said during an interview with Yale Environment 360. “If we can relate to it, then we’re going to care about it more. If we care about it more, then we’re going to do a better job of stewarding our landscapes.”

As her research expands to look into how forests can adapt in the face of a warming world, Simard thinks that humanizing trees will make people more likely to take steps to protect them. At the very least, she hopes that the knowledge that trees are intelligent, sophisticated, caring creatures will inspire us to immerse ourselves in nature more and more each day.

Call for a consultation or Email and let us know what you think or let us know how we can help you.

Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing 101: An In-Depth Look Into The Healing Practice

While it might conjure images of a clawfoot tub nestled in trees, the term “forest bathing” refers to a more metaphorical experience in nature—one where your surroundings wash over you, cleansing you from the outside in.

Different from more goal-oriented exercises like hiking or camping, forest bathing is more akin to an outdoor sensory meditation. And in today’s increasingly urbanized and tech-driven age, it’s more appealing and important than ever.

Why did we start forest bathing in the first place?

Forest bathing as it’s known today began in the 1980s on the trails of Akasawa, a forest in central Japan. Akasawa now doubles as a living laboratory—a place where stressed-out city dwellers can go to find respite and then take part in a study on how the time in the forest has changed them on a physiological level. Cabins dotted throughout the trees are full of researchers looking to find proof of concept that forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku as its known in Japan, really does make us happier and healthier.

Japan is home to some of the most crowded cities in the world so it may seem like an odd location for this sort of study, but Japanese culture and traditions actually maintain a strong reverence for nature. Case in point: “Greenery Day”, an occasion reserved for taking in the beauty of the natural world, is a beloved national holiday.

As more research continues to emerge from these woods, the practice is gaining legitimacy around the world. There are now hundreds of certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guides in the U.S. working to connect people with the healing power of the woods, and nations like Finland, considered to be one of the happiest in the world, have designated “well-being themed” forests that prompt visitors to stop and connect with their surroundings with signs like “squat down and touch a plant”.

Forest Bathing

 

Why is being in the forest so good for us?

Wondering how much good a walk in the forest can possibly do for the body? A whole lot. One experiment across 24 forests in Japan measured people’s blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and cortisol levels (the hormone that is released when we’re stressed out) after they took a walk in the woods and compared to those of people who walked in city surroundings. Though it was on a small cohort of 12 participants, the study found that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure. Another measured sleep patterns of participants after a forest bathing trip. Beforehand, the forest bathers reported having insomnia. After a two-hour walk in the woods? Their average sleep time increased by 45 minutes.

Researchers suspect that the forest’s stress-reducing, mood-boosting powers come from compounds known as terpenes, which are found in the oils that plants give off. Abundantly available in Conifers like fir, cedar, and spruce trees, these terpenes have been shown to improve brain health, in addition to boosting immunity. Another study found that an immersion in the forest could increase the body’s levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that fights infection in the body. This is even more incredible when you consider that one 3-day trip to the woods actually boosted participant’s NK levels for up to 30 days afterward.

We adapted from the natural world, so the idea that nature holds the capacity to heal us is pretty easy to believe. While more research is still needed to determine the exact mechanisms driving these responses, the Japanese government now officially recognizes Shinrin-yoku as a healthful practice and “forest medicine” has become a legitimate Rx in the country.

Forest Bathing

Want to get started? It couldn’t be easier.

Embarking on a forest bathing journey of your own is as simple as finding a slice of nature, ditching your phone, and tuning into your surroundings. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the most restorative outing possible.

1.) Go somewhere what works for you.

While forest bathing is often practiced in the woods, that doesn’t mean city dwellers can’t enjoy it. Seeking out gardens and tree-lined streets can work too! However, you’re more likely to find terpenes in areas with dense tree cover—especially just after a rainstorm.

Dr. Qing Li, one of world’s foremost expert in forest medicine and a leader of the research coming out of Japan, argues that the practice is as essential to well-being as diet or exercise. In his new book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, he writes that in order to find calm in nature, you must find a spot that speaks to you and you alone. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution—it differs from person to person,” he writes. “For some it will be the sound of water flowing over pebbles in a stream or squirrels chattering to each other in the branches. For others it is the scent of the air, or the sight of the forest bursting into greenery at the beginning of spring.”

2.) Engage the senses as a shortcut to mindfulness.

Once you find a place where you feel at ease, it’s time to lean in and engage the five senses. Jo Fleming, a certified Forest Therapy Guide, recounts the mindful journey in the Montana wilderness that inspired her to first seek her certification in saying, “I could taste and smell how fresh, moist and cold the air was. There were a wide array of sounds of that space—leaves quivering as gusts blew up, a river crashing and tumbling rhythmically behind me somewhere, the birds and squirrels scratching at the bark, twigs and debris on the ground and trees. I took another deep breath and closed my eyes and just listened. As my fear began to dissipate it was replaced with a growing feeling of peace. I kind of melted into that place.” Since that transformative experienced, she’s found that tuning into the sights, smells, and sounds of nature has been a shortcut to happiness and creative living.

3.) Don’t overthink it.

At the end of the day, the “rules” of forest bathing are few and it’s just about quieting the mind in order to connect with your body and your surroundings. “Forest bathing is about slowing down, allowing things to emerge around us, and letting ourselves melt into a place to the point where we don’t feel separate [from nature] anymore,” says Fleming. “We have no idea what will emerge and that’s what is so inviting.”

And what a beautiful notion that is: that returning to nature feels a lot like coming home.

Achieving the Living Product Challenge Certification: An Introduction to the Process

In May, Plant Solutions accepted the coveted Living Product Challenge Petal Certification for its MossWallArt™—the first and only interior art offering to be granted petal certification. But what exactly does this certification represent, and how does it pave the way for the next frontier of design? Let’s dive in.

 

Pairing less harm with more good.

“We should be making buildings in a way that isn’t just a little less toxic, a little less problematic,” explains Alexandra Muller of International Living Future Institute (ILFI)—an organization that has long served as a catalyst for healthy and sustainable building design. “We know how to build them in a way that gives back and has a positive impact.”

Launched in 2014, the Living Product Challenge applies the International Living Future Institute’s holistic perspective on sustainable building design to individual products.Living Wall - Living Product Challenge

 

The rigorous certification program asks companies to first ensure that their products are free of red list ingredients—ones that have been shown to build up in the environment and cause harm over time. Then, they are to work with third-party verifiers to measure the net impact of the product across key areas. How much water goes into its creation? How are its materials sourced? How much energy does it require? Answering these questions with certainty is an involved process, made even trickier by the numerous supply chains often involved.

From there, The Living Product Challenge asks companies to develop something known as a “handprint”.

“We’ve been looking at footprints for so long and thinking we have to shrink them, but you can never get your footprint to zero. As you continue to shrink your footprint, you kind of have diminishing returns in some ways,” Muller explains of the handprint philosophy, which was inspired by the work of world-renowned lifecycle assessment specialist Greg Norris. “He thought we were leaving out this whole world of possibility: Handprints are what we give back.”

Introducing the concept of hand printing paves the way for companies to think creatively about how they can be real forces of good in the world. “It has inspired a lot of creativity, a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, a lot of different partnerships,” Muller says, citing examples like Mohawk Flooring’s recent installation of smartflower solar panels that move in tandem with the sun to boost energy creation. Mohawk strategically placed the panels in 10 impoverished cities across the U.S. and is using them as educational tools to further amplify impact. “You need to think about where to place these positive impacts—how can something be even more beneficial when you think about who will be affected by it?”

This notion of reducing negative impact while finding new ways to create a positive legacy is unique and exciting, and it could have far-reaching effects on the design industry.

“We want to flip the script on sustainability—I hope the program becomes the gold standard,” explains Muller, who has watched the certification grow and attract companies across a variety of categories, from building materials and textiles to electronics and cleaning products, since its founding in 2014. “We’re not letting anybody off the hook when we think about handprints. We still need to shrink our impact but if we can create a more inspiring framework, we could have so much more impact and collaboration over a shorter period of time.”

The story behind MossWallArt’s certification

Plant Solutions was an early supporter of the certification, and founder Joe Zazzera has shown an unwavering dedication to get MossWallArt up to the program’s advanced sustainability standards.

“There was no barrier that came up that was too big,” Muller says of Zazzera. “He said he wanted his product to be the best it could be, so if there was something that had to change, he said let’s just change it. Let’s just do it.”

First, Zazzera got Plant Solutions certified by the JUST program, another ILFI initiative that designates organizations showing a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and employee well-being. Then came time to dive deeper into each and every material used in the company’s signature MossWallArt, tracing them back to the source and ensuring that all production processes were not just easy on the environment—but ultimately beneficial for it.Product Challenge Petal Certification

Zazzera didn’t hesitate to make major changes to the art’s structure in the name of full transparency. He got all of the wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (meaning it was harvested using best practices that respect old-growth forests and rare species) and began using mycelium, a renewable mushroom material, in the board. He was even willing to swap his moss supplier in favor of one who had all of the necessary sourcing information.

“For a product that’s mostly bio-based, you would think that nothing would come up with materials but it’s pretty incredible how difficult it is to get information about different components from your supply chain,” Muller explains. “Sometimes when you have to purchase something from say Home Depot, and you don’t know where it’s coming from or how to get that information.”

To further expand its handprint, Plant Solutions now gives money to local organizations McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, a local environmental conservancy, and Free Arts Arizona, which gets homeless children involved with therapeutic arts, donates showerheads to those in need to offset water use, and prioritizes employee well-being with perks like in-office meditation spaces.

“I think the product really embodies the program in a number of ways,” Muller asserts.

In a world where more and more products are touting green accolades, MossWallArt’s Living Product Challenge label is truly the gold standard—an example of staunch dedication to craft in the name of nature.

moss wall art

What Can We Learn From The Most Successful Biophilic Offices?

What do the world’s most successful companies have in common? A passionate workforce, strong leadership, a dynamic product—and plenty of plants. Step inside the offices of Google, Amazon, Airbnb, and Etsy and you’ll be greeted with lush greenery and nods to biophilic design at every turn. And for good reason: Nature-inspired design continues to prove effective at boosting workplace morale and productivity.

Let’s explore some of these green offices and find ways to implement their designs on a smaller scale in any workplace:

Recreate Amazon: Seek refuge and pattern

Biophilic Offices

The centerpiece of Amazon’s new Seattle HQ, the Spheres, is an urban rainforest seven years in the making. Opened earlier this year, the glass structures are filled with 40,000 plants (including a 55-foot tree and five-story living wall) and maintains a humidity level more akin to a greenhouse—with 60 percent humidity compared to the typical 30.

“We wanted people to come in and feel differently at work. They’re going to come and connect with nature,” Ron Gagliardo, the lead horticulturalist on the project told CBS News. “You can’t be afraid to think big.

If you can’t afford to think quite so big (Amazon reportedly spent upwards of $4 billion on its Seattle campus), there are plenty of ways to implement similar techniques on a smaller scale. The Spheres creates privacy with small nooks and alcoves that are closed off from the otherwise open floor plan. Refuge space is a cornerstone of successful biophilic design, so siphoning off private rooms in your office using walls, curtains, or even tall plants, could be beneficial.

The Spheres’ shape is modeled after the Catalan, a naturally occurring pattern in nature. You too can mirror the lines and arrangements of the outdoors in your space by installing carpet that resembles tree rings or hanging artwork that depicts the swirl of a seashell, for example.

Recreate Google: Let there be light

The best Biophilic Offices

While many of Google’s offices are beacons of biophilic design, its Chicago outpost is particularly noteworthy. When Google designers converted a dark, old storage warehouse downtown, one of the first steps was to add windows to help employees maintain healthy circadian rhythms or internal clocks. By mapping out space so that every conference room and desk had access to natural light, they hoped to help combat some of the most prevalent health issues of today, including obesity, diabetes, and depression—all of which have been tied to an out-of-sync circadian rhythm.

A nod to the healing power of light, the finished building lifts the veil between employees and the surrounding environment. As Amanda Sturgeon, one of the foremost leaders in biophilic design, wrote of the office in her book, Creating Biophilic Buildings, “One project goal was to carefully create daylit spaces that would promote the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which can improve productivity and reduce low-level stress. Occupants access natural light through the open offices along the perimeter of the building and through the multi-story atrium.”

Even if you can’t manage to install more windows in your space right away, reconfiguring the desk layout so more employees can experience daylight or buy a few circadian-supportive light fixtures are two quick fixes.

Recreate Airbnb: Go for open, woodsy spaces

Successful Biophilic Offices

Airbnb’s Dublin headquarters is a beautiful example of how a communal office space can promote collaboration. Instead of dividing its massive 43,000-square foot warehouse-turned-HQ into separate work silos, Airbnb designers chose to keep it mostly open, centered by a large, communal atrium. Even in the dozens of smaller workspaces surrounding this main area, they opted for large tables over individual desks—crafting what’s known in biophilic design as “prospect space” in the process. This layout mimics the expansive, unobstructed views you’d find in the natural environment, and can boost productivity when paired with the aforementioned refuge spaces.

Another notable aspect of Airbnb’s design is its extensive use of natural woods—on everything from the massive central bleachers to the wall treatments. There’s evidence that people are actually more satisfied and productive when they work in an area that has plenty of wooden surfaces, so consider choosing this material over synthetics like plastic the next time you’re in the market for new office furniture or decor.

Recreate Etsy: Bring your walls to life

living walls

Etsy’s reportedly set out to make its Brooklyn HQ feel like a “Green Embrace” by using reclaimed woods, living walls, and water features to create a respite for employees that feels worlds away from the bustling city streets outside. Punctuated with bright, colorful crafts signature to the brand, the whimsical office was inspired by the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. This framework goes beyond LEED certification to designate built systems that are entirely self-sustaining, like those you’d find in nature.

In Etsy’s case, being a living building means using locally sourced, FSC-certified woods, developing systems to send zero waste to landfill, installing solar panels, and using rainwater captured on the roof to water dozens of living walls that serve as lush focal points in the space.

Similar green displays are in high demand these days, lauded for their ability to provide an instant, dramatic office refresh that is relatively low-maintenance. If you too are thinking of infusing your office with a living wall, Plant Solutions’ MossWallArt is one of a kind. Made from 100% real mosses, lichens, natural woods and organic features, it’s recently been recognized by the Living Future Institute for its unwavering commitment to environmentally friendly design. Completely free of chemicals that could prove harmful to human health and made using FSC-certified wood, they are an honest representation of nature’s beauty that would be at home in any office.

Turning your office into a nature-inspired hub doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. Implementing these strategies, anybody can reap the restorative benefits of nature right from their desk.

The economics of Biophilic Design

MossWallArt™ by Plant Solutions achieves Living Product Challenge Petal Certification

moss wall artPlant Solutions is excited to announce that MossWallArt is now the first and only interior art offering to achieve the International Living Future Institute’s Living Product Challenge Petal Certification, earning a Declare label signifying freedom from red list materials(chemicals that have been designated as harmful to humans and the environment). The Living Product Challenge is a framework for manufacturers to create products that are healthy, inspirational and give back to the environment, and represents the most rigorous standards for sustainable manufacturing. The certification was announced officially at the 2018 International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) annual unConference in Portland.

“We are deeply honored and excited to be recognized for our commitment to creating products that improve our quality of life and help ecosystems thrive,” says Biomimicry Professional and Plant Solutions founder Joe Zazzera. “Earning the coveted Petal Certification celebrates our commitment to pushing the envelope in design while being conscientious of the impact our products have on customers, employees, and the environment.”

The yearlong certification process is extremely rigorous, requiring exhaustive analysis of every material that goes into creating these large-scale art pieces and installations, followed by the elimination of red listed chemicals, glues, florist foam, and formaldehyde. “We were designing really beautiful moss walls,” says Zazzera, “and as biophilic design pioneers, it is critical that we be fully confident about the integrity of every single material that goes into their manufacture. Biophilic design is all about health and wellness, and reconnecting people to nature. It is important to me personally that MossWallArt be beautiful and functional as well as improving quality of life. Now, we can confidently say that our products function as elegantly as nature does.”

MossWallArt
To ensure MossWallArt’s net positive impact on people, employees, and the environment, Petal Certification required that Plant Solutions be approved as a JUST organization––a social equity label that grades diversity, employee equity, safety, benefits, support of local non-profits, and stewardship in business. In addition, all MossWallArt wood products had to receive Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, through a rigorous Chain-of-Custody process that traces the path of the product from the forest through the supply chain to ensure that all products are sourced from responsibly managed forests and provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

“We are so pleased to be recognized for our team’s efforts to improve quality of life while nourishing a healthy ecosystem,” says Zazzera. “Many thanks to the Living Future Institute, A Greener Space, and our tireless Plant Solutions team for working to create MossWallArt that is healthy, inspirational, and that gives back to the environment. We hope our example inspires many more companies to commit to a healthy materials economy. Our future is worth it.”

How Indoor Plants Are Affected by Seasons Changing

How you can apply the principles of biophilic design to your office space

As the seasons change to Spring and new plant life takes bloom outside, it may be time to change the way you treat your indoor plants. Seasonal changes affect indoor environments and the plants within them almost as much as they do outdoor plants. Plants are very sensitive to changes in the air quality, temperature, and humidity

As the heat and moisture content in the outdoor air change, the temperature settings inside also change, which affects the indoor plants. As spring changes into summer many indoor environments, like offices and shopping malls, are kept at a cooler temperature to allow people to feel comfortable.

How Do Plants Sense the Coming Change in Seasons?

As Fall and winter approach, most plants will shed their leaves to get ready for the change of seasons. While this might seem to be associated with dropping temperatures, the actual reason is that trees and other plants can sense the change In seasons due to the reduced presence of light. Photoperiodism is the name given to the way plants and animals respond to natural changes in light. Research has shown that certain plants have receptors that allow them to sense the natural shortening of daylight hours that occurs in the fall and winter.  As the night grows longer, plants anticipate colder weather coming, which is why they lose their leaves as winter approaches even If temperatures don’t drop.

How Does Spring Change the Environment for Indoor Plants?

In Spring, indoor plants may need repositioning as the sunlight coming in through windows becomes more intense and lasts for longer periods. Plants with delicate leaves can end up getting bleached or burnt by prolonged sun exposure. These plants may need to move to a shadier spot or be rotated a few times a week to ensure they get the right amount of light.

The water level each plant needs can also vary as the weather grows warmer. With sunlight levels going up, plants are likely to need more water to stay hydrated. At the same time, it’s important to be cautious of overwatering. At Plant Solutions, we have the experience to know how much water each plant needs as the season’s change. Our weekly plant maintenance service increases water levels over time and precisely chooses the right spot for each plant to ensure that plants get what they need without getting overwatered or overexposed to the sun.

Another important change to the indoor environment is the steady increase of air conditioning as the outdoor temperature gets hotter. Most plants prefer for the temperature indoors to be a little warmer than you might like, and they can react negatively to you running the AC more than usual. Air conditioner use can also strip humidity from the air, leaving plants dry and causing leaves to curl up. If you want to keep all your plants healthy as Spring progresses into Summer, you may need to add some humidity back into the air for the plants to absorb.

If you want to keep your interior plants healthy and thriving as the season’s change, Plant Solutions can help. Our team can help with plant selection and maintenance for your home and office space. Contact us at 480.585.8501 to get started.

Behind the Scenes of a Living Green Wall

Behind the Scenes of a Living Green Wall

A living green wall creates a visual impact on visitors to your space it mystifies the average viewer. How plants stay healthy and in place seems like magic, but it’s due to careful planning and maintenance. Living walls, just like healthy gardens planted in the earth, are designed layer by layer with plants chosen to succeed in a given set of conditions.

The key to a successful living green wall is sufficient planning to ensure all plants stay healthy over time. This includes making sure to have enough water and nutrients giving them enough room to breathe. It also includes selecting plants, which will stay healthy and vibrant, in the framework of the green wall.

How Do Plants Stay in The Wall?

How Do Plants Stay Healthy in a Green Wall?

For the viewer, plants in a green wall seem to be suspended as if growing directly into the wall itself. Underneath the layers of plants, is a framework panel structure, which holds the plants in place. The root systems of the plants grow into the framework creating a bond that helps them stay put. Panels are often infused with nutrients, encouraging plant health. To Reiterate, planning is vital to ensure a successful design and installation.

How Do Plants Stay Healthy in a Green Wall?

To stay healthy, plants need water, nutrients, and proper lighting. Living green walls incorporate irrigation systems, which deliver what plants need, without oversaturation or structural water damage. Some plant walls systems incorporate drip irrigation systems, which waters the entire system. While others use some form of recirculation systems. To do this, additional infrastructure such as plumbing, electric, and drainage may be required.

In recirculation systems, an irrigation tank is often placed under or behind the wall to capture, any excess water collected. Water is then recirculated within the system. Recirculation systems keep the amount of water used on green wall plants to a minimum, helping to conserve water.

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?If allowed to grow unchecked, the plant’s design can escape from the structure, especially plants that grow quickly. Some plant types can grow as much as 18 inches in one season, leading them to overwhelm other plants within the design.

In addition to trimming and pruning plants that grow out of check, maintenance will help monitor plant health and ensure the irrigation and nutrient systems are functioning properly.

If you are interested in having a living wall installed in your residential or commercial space, Plant Solutions can help. Our team can help with planning and installation of the right plants, and other elements, to create the look you want in a living green wall. Contact us at 480.585.8501 to get started.

Landscape inspirations from all around the world

Landscapes around the world are influenced by many different factors, including cultural influences, the types of materials readily available in the area and the plants that do well in the local climate. Taking inspiration from the way gardens and natural spaces are set up in other parts of the world is a great way to make your interior or exterior landscape look unique and stand out from others in the area.

Here are four international styles to draw inspiration from as you put your interior or exterior landscape together.

Tuscan

Landscape

The Central Italian foothills are a popular place for Italians to escape the drama and traffic associated with Rome, so the region has long been associated with relaxation and stress relief. Tuscan design often incorporates a biophilic element by bringing the natural outdoor beauty of the region inside, using colors inspired by the nature in the region.

Many of the water features featured in famous squares and gardens throughout Italy were created during the Italian Renaissance period, which traces its origins back to Tuscany. Renaissance fountains were often statuaries, a fountain with an ornamental statue, from which the water flows. This provides the visual beauty of the artwork along with the natural movement and sound of the water cascading.

French

Opulence is the key when it comes to imitating the classic French style. Sometimes elaborate to the point of gaudiness, but never apologetic, French styling is designed to catch the eye. French styled features were often designed to be ostentatious and usually made of expensive looking materials, such as marble or gold. Famous gardens, such as the ones at Versailles, were constructed with waterways and fountains intertwined to encourage long walks. You may not have a large space but incorporating multiple elements can still work when they are proportionate to the overall size of the yard.

Asian Inspired

 landscaping  Asian inspired

To those of us unfamiliar with the differing styles of Chinese, Japanese and other cultures, the word Asian lumps together many styles. Koi ponds, rock gardens, and Zen gardens all come to mind. In truth, some of these elements belong to the Chinese style, and some of the Japanese, with distinct differences in the way things are laid out

Homeowners who want to add a Chinese inspired garden should first spend some time familiarizing themselves with the art of Feng Shui, the classic Chinese discipline. Traditional Chinese gardens are composed of many elements, each placed in relation and harmony to the others.

The name of the Chinese art literally translates to wind and water, but it encompasses so much more than those two elements. Feng shui focuses on the orientation of elements together, to reach a harmonious balance. The art itself dates back thousands of years, with practice in China dating back to around 4000 BC. The simplest aim of feng shui is to achieve the balance between Heaven and Earth that provides a positive Qi, a type of energy. Throughout time, feng shui has spread from China to the western world, with many people using the guidelines to create a harmonious space.

Mediterranean

Landscaping Mediterranean style

Mediterranean style conjures up a vision of shallow courtyard pools finished in blue and white tiles, standing out under the blistering sunshine. Here again, as with Asian style, the term is used as a catchall. The term “Mediterranean” refers to the style of a region of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, for example, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt.

Mediterranean gardens and courtyards often incorporate a water feature. These are usually shallow, tiled ponds in straightforward geometric shapes, without many plants or extra adornment. When placed in a walled courtyard, the natural sound and movement of the water coming from a fountain or waterfall is amplified to make it even more intriguing.

If you want to create an interior, landscape inspired by an international style that you admire Plant Solutions can help you. Our expert team can help with planning and installation of the right plants and other elements to create the look you want. Contact us at 480.585.8501 for help.

create engaging indoor landscape

How to Create an Interesting Indoor Landscape

If you’ve ever attempted to arrange your own plants to create an indoor landscape, you know there is more to it than how the elements are placed in the space. An interior landscape should include a variety of elements chosen to work together to make it visually interesting without being crowded. There are many elements that can be combined to create an indoor landscape that engages visitors and creates the right tone of the space.

Create Visual Depth and Height

Selecting plants that are all the same size or height might seem like a good idea at the outset but doing so can eliminate some of the natural charms of the landscape you create. In a natural landscape, plants are not uniformly kept in the same size or height. Using plants at different heights gives a room the feeling of being taller and lighter while staying true to nature. Select plants that naturally grow to different heights or use plant shelves and stands to elevate certain plants above others.

Choose the Appropriate Size Plants for The Space

Choose the Appropriate Size Plants for The SpaceProportion is a key element to making your indoor landscape work within the space available. Too much in a small space can be overwhelming, while large rooms with only a few plants can feel cold and unfinished. Larger plants are better placed in larger rooms. They fill the open space without crowding furniture and other elements. Smaller spaces can be accented with plants such as orchids and bromeliads that stay small as they grow. Hanging plants, which are back in style, draw the eye up to make a room look taller or can highlight special architectural touches.

Mix Textures and Types to Create Visual Interest

Unless you’re going for a minimalist, uniform look that calls for matching plants, choose plants with leaves or flowers of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Try grouping a plant with tall, green stalks with another that features bright flowers to create a pop of color to draw attention or mirror colors you’ve chosen for your walls. For a cohesive display, try matching pots or planters to give them a unifying element. If you prefer a whimsical look, turn matching sets of small sculptures or busts into planters. This gives them a cohesive feeling without being overly polished and perfect.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Bold Choice

 engaging interior landscape in your home or business, Plant Solutions If you want to make a striking first impression for when visitors enter your space, don’t be afraid to choose something bold. Large plants that standalone in an open space can make a visual impact, but only if the plant is large enough. A living green wall can act as a conversation piece in one of the central parts of your home or office. While these elements might seem complicated at the outset, they can be simple to plan and incorporate with our help.

If you want to create a unique, engaging interior landscape in your home or business, Plant Solutions can help. Contact us at 480.585.8501 for help with the design, engineering, and installation of your indoor landscape.

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