Plant Walls: A History of the Green Aesthetic

8 Feb | Biophilic Design, Indoor Living Walls

Indoor plant walls are trending. Also known as green walls or living walls, you’re likely seeing much more of them in retail spaces. Here in Phoenix, we designed plant walls for local coffee shop Provision and Picazzo’s, a favorite pizza place. It’s an aesthetic business owners are incorporating more and more, but they aren’t new.



The first man made green walls are thought to be the hanging gardens of ancient Babylon – beautiful, lush spaces full of greenery and flowers. According to historical records, it was the first building with a built-in irrigation system, exactly like today’s modern plant wall. And according to legend, the hanging gardens were designed to comfort the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar. Similarly, through biophilic principles, plant walls help boost mood and productivity.



The story of green walls continued in 1937 with Landscape Architecture professor Stanley Hart White, the brother of famous children’s book author E.B. White (known for the beloved classics of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little). He took out a patent on his “botanical bricks,” or plant units that could be built up to any height. Almost 50 years later, Patrick Blanc, French botanist installed a vertical garden at the Paris Museum of Science and Industry in 1988, bringing the concept to the public.


Plant Solutions continues to carry on the story of plant walls, but with our own unique touch. Since 1981 we’ve tested and installed a wide variety of systems and continue to test and incorporate new materials not just for our plant walls but for all our offerings. We’re even members of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which means we help drive product development and new installation techniques. Founder Joe Zazzera was even on the committee that helped develop their first Green Wall program back in 2010.

We take plant wall design and installation seriously. Each plant wall is customized and is touched by designers, architects and the owners to develop the right drainage, irrigation and lighting. Once the wall is created, we also set up a plan to make sure it is maintained, either by us or you. We like to say that keeping plants looking good all the time is part art, part science and we have an innate talent and passion for it.

Our Installation Process

Are you thinking of adding a living green wall to your space? We can help. Here is what we consider to be the building blocks of any plant wall. We will partner with you to nail down the specifics and make your idea a reality.

Size of Install: What is the size of the plant wall? Are you covering an entire space or creating more of a decoration?

Type of Install: Plant walls can hang on a wall like a piece of living art, or they can stand on their own. It all depends on what you want it to look like in the end. There will be a difference in construction so it’s best to decide before we begin.

Water Needs: What kind of irrigation system will you use? Your plant wall is a living system and needs to be watered. The two types of irrigation systems for plant walls are a direct irrigation system or a recirculating irrigation system. The direct system is hooked up to an external water source like the city water. A recirculating irrigation system has an irrigation tank and a pump. The pump sends water through the plant wall, with excess water falling back into the irrigation tank to start the process over. Which system works best for your situation?

Plant Choice: What types of plants will be in your green wall? For this step, we will need to talk to you about the environment your plant wall will be located in. Our expert horticulturalists will pick the plants that will thrive best in your environment. They will consider factors such as the amount of light, space to grow, traffic flow, and more to pick the best plants for you.

Living Plant walls, one of many Biophilic design elements, can be a great addition to a home or office. At Plant Solutions, we stand ready to bring your design to life.

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