Green walls, also known as living walls, have become a rising trend of built environments in recent years, thanks to their many benefits and uses.
Green walls vary from facades, which are regularly seen climbing up the outside walls of buildings, using them as structural support. In green walls, the growth medium lies in the structure of the wall, whereas facades are deep-rooted in the ground.
What are the Functions and Benefits of Green Walls?
There are many rewards to having green walls livening up your space. First of all, the visual benefits of the living wall can’t be ignored. The eye-catching pieces of natural art can make a big impact on decorating urban spaces made out of concrete and bricks, thus offering substitutes for urban agriculture, gardening, and decor.
Benefits for People
Living walls can make us happier and more creative as they appeal to our inborn need to be around nature. Bringing nature’s elements to places where they are not generally be seen lifts our mood, making us more attentive and upbeat. This concept is also called biophilia.
Studies show that nature can reduce negative behaviors, such as aggression and anxiety. Moreover, connectivity with nature has been found to reduce stress and repair mental fatigue. This is due to the automatic reaction of our bodies to seeing and being around natural elements.
Outdoor green walls and facades are energy cost-effective as their plants reduce the overall room temperatures when exposed to the sun. They also reduce heat escaping during winter.
Additionally, the transpiration process of plants slightly reduces room temperatures as well, thus also serving as an energy cost-effective solution. A sufficient amount of plant matter helps in reducing noise levels.
Types of Green Walls Systems
There are all sorts of green walls. Solutions vary between indoor and outdoor sizes, spaces, and models, among other things. Moreover, the design and construction of all types of green wall systems are constantly developing, giving more options for various purposes.
Indoors or Outdoors Green Wall System?
Outdoor and indoor green walls serve different purposes and in various surroundings. They can be made of a variety of materials and plants, depending on the most appropriate solution for each space.
Outdoor green walls are principally visual elements. Although they can also be cost-effective in that they capture rainwater, reduce temperatures, or insulate buildings, they are mostly used to bring greenery into urban spaces. The construction of these living walls has limitations in terms of the climate, as they have to endure their surrounding conditions, which may sometimes take a toll on the structure and plants of the wall.
Indoor green wall systems have more limitations in terms of their size, as they must fit the space they are in. Because of said limitations, they are often easier to maintain, though.
Smart and active green walls are only used indoors since their air purification efficiency isn’t powerful enough to impact outdoor spaces. The plants used in these green walls are tropical and will not survive in most conditions of the outside world when removed from their natural habitat.
Size and Design
The design of a living wall is not limited by size. Although wide models are easier to preserve than tall ones, the overall design and engineering aren’t too dissimilar between differently proportioned products.
Living walls built from plastic and metal modules are usually rectangular, as round engineering shapes are harder. Instead, the ideal material for round and varying shapes is felt. In active green wall systems, air circulation features take priority, thus limiting most designs to solid modules.
Most indoor green walls are wall-mounted, although double-sided and free-standing models are not unpopular either. In terms of commercial green wall systems, most are custom-made solutions.
What Do the Plants Grow In?
The plants of living walls need a suitable growth medium to root into. The growth medium is then placed on a structure that together forms a wall system. These combinations come in diverse types and are generally grouped into four categories: loose, sheet, mat, and structural media systems.
Whereas loose growth medium systems have soil packed in a shelf or a bag, mat media are mat systems usually made of thin coir fiber or felt. The plants root themselves directly onto the mat requiring no loose media such as soil. Sheet media are akin to mat systems, consisting of patterned inorganic polyurethane sheets more endurant than coir fiber or felt. Structural media combine the loose and mat systems by forming a block that can be made in different shapes and sizes. For example, the greenery can be planted into loose medium, placed into pots, and laden onto a wall structure with built-in irrigation.
In loose green wall media systems, soil, volcanic stone, hydro stone, and hydroponics are common ways of growing plants. The selection of loose growth media has grown immensely within the past five years.
What Plants Can be Used?
The plants are the stars of the show. Different types of vegetation can be used. However, there are some limitations depending on the type and purpose of the green wall. All the same,plants for living green wall systems should be capable of adapting to the surrounding climatic conditions to survive.