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Biophilic Design

How to Incorporate Indoor Landscaping Into Your Designs

As a professional, you likely already know the value of incorporating natural elements into your interior designs, whether they are for a residential or commercial space. People respond well to green plants and leafy trees in their indoor spaces, and incorporating these elements into an otherwise artificial environment can boost the mood of everyone who lives or works there. But there are practical concerns that come with incorporating landscaping design into an interior design. If you hesitate to include live plants as part of your designs because you don’t know much about them, here are some easy ways to incorporate them without making the design process any more complicated and you can ensure a successful project by consulting a plant installation service from the beginning.

Let the Principles of Biophilia Be Your Guide

Indoor décor isn’t complete until you incorporate interior landscape elements the proper way

The concept of biophilia dates back to the 1980s when it was introduced by university professor and well-known sociologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson defined biophilia as the human tendency to seek connections with nature and other kinds of life around us. He wrote that the current way of life, which has become so removed from nature, causes people to feel disconnected and yearn for a return to nature. Nowhere is this more evident to people than in the interior spaces where they live and work. Adding the vibrant green of a full fern or the pop of color of a tropical flower to a room can be enough to help the people who live there feel happier on an everyday basis. Windows that allow natural light to enter help people feel grounded and connected to the wider world.

Biophilic designs incorporate elements of nature, including:

  • Plants
  • Trees
  • Natural Light
  • Eco-friendly elements
“Adding the vibrant green of a full fern or the pop of color of a tropical flower to a room can be enough to help the people who live there feel happier on an everyday basis. Windows that allow natural light to enter help people feel grounded and connected to the wider world.”

Choose the Right Plants and Trees

Plant Solutions can help you select plants that are likely to flourish within the environment. High maintenance plants may not do well in an office environment, where they can receive sporadic care. If you suspect that no one at the office will be tasked with indoor plant maintenance, it may be wise to include hardy plants that don’t require much special care, but we recommend a Phoenix interior plant service to help them keep the plants looking fresh and full. Another option is to use a plant rental service to bring in plants that will stay looking fresh and healthy all of the time.

Place Natural Elements in Optimal Spots

As your vision comes together, reserving the right spots to allow plants to flourish is vital to keep green elements thriving. Not only does a plant need the right amount of exposure to light, many plants need to live at the right temperature to stay healthy. This means that spots where air conditioning vents are blowing or doors that may allow cold gusts to come in might not be ideal for plants and trees. If you are unsure where to place certain plants in your interior plant design, consult with an indoor landscaping company to get help in understanding what each particular plant needs as you redesign and renovate your space.

Allow Space for Seasonal Elements

One of the core ideas behind the biophilic design is allowing the current state of natural elements to shine in indoor spaces. A design that incorporates a seasonal element better reflects the changing landscape outside. Leave spaces where seasonal plants or wreaths can help to remind people of the season and the colors that nature highlights during this time.

“One of the core ideas behind the biophilic design is allowing the current state of natural elements to shine in indoor spaces.”

Partner with an Experienced Service like Plant Solutions

Plant Solutions is a comprehensive interior landscaping company.

To ensure that the plants and trees incorporated into a room design are properly selected and cared for, it’s important to seek out the services of a qualified Indoor Landscaping company. Not only can we help you select the right plants to include; but we can also provide guidance about where to place them. Our team will also provide Interior Plant Maintenance to keep them looking great for years to come. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

Here at Plant Solutions we also offer the plant rental services that were previously mentioned above. Our design team can help you determine which plants could help make an office or waiting area feel more homey, an entry way to feel more open and airy, or a meeting room feel more inviting and relaxed. The specialists that work on our design teams know which plants will thrive best in what locations and can help you assess what will work best for your business.

Once the plants have been placed in the environments that have been deemed best, our interior plant maintenance can look after them. This portion of our staff will come in uniform and take care of the plants ensuring that they stay healthy and look fresh for you. This team will also be able to monitor if the plants are doing well in the chosen locations. If not they will be able to address the situation with our design team and we can address the situation by changing the plant type or choosing a more suitable location.

Contact us at Plant Solutions today so that we can discuss with you in further details the benefits of adding plants to your interior design. Let us help you make your home more beautiful and inviting and your business more productive and profitable.

Resources and References

Benefits of Living Plants In Buildings

awareness of the need and desire for indoor air quality

By: Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP |  February 1, 2010 | topics: LEED, Indoor Plant Benefits, Environmental Awareness With the advent of the LEED rating system and with LEED for homes coming on in a strong way, the awareness of the need and desire for indoor air quality improvement and control is greater than ever. Due to our increased environmental awareness, we no longer trust the health and quality of our food, clothing, hair-care products, cleaning products, carpeting and paint.  Plenty of data exists proving the toxicity of these items.  We can no longer ignorantly keep these chemicals near us in any form without risking becoming irritated and sick behind their use. When it comes to our living and working environments, we want the best and healthiest options we can afford. According to the ASID Study “The impact of interior design and the bottom line”, and The American Journal of Medicine, businesses pay $15 Billion a year in direct medical costs due to problems related to poor indoor air quality. Over 900 VOC’S (volatile organic compounds) can be present in indoor environmental air.  Not all VOC’S are harmful but the harsh ones like formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, chloroform, ammonia, acetone are commonly used in items like paint, carpeting, construction supplies, glues, ceiling tiles, furniture and finishes. This poor indoor air quality has negative effects on our health.  Out-gassing, or emissions of these VOC’S, cause problems such as nausea, headache, coughs, fatigue, dry skin and sore throats. These are just some of the results of poor indoor air quality.

How Living Indoor Plants Help

Live Indoor Plants convert harmful VOC’S into carbon-based materials that they then use in the photosynthesis process to make their own food. The resulting byproduct is oxygen. This is actually a bimimicry action; there is no other known way to convert these compounds into something harmless. It is as nature designed and intended.   Air filter devices and HVAC systems can capture some of these VOC’s but they are still there, they haven’t changed.  Plants do what our most complicated HVAC systems can’t, and plants offer a host of other physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Scientists have found that there is a microcosm, an ecosystem of sorts that exists in a regular soil mix consisting of plant roots and ordinary harmless bacteria.  The bacteria breaks down the VOC’s and the plant roots nourish and keep the bacteria alive.  Plants absorb the newly converted compounds and use them in the photosynthesis process for food and energy and growth. In a two-year study by Norwegian Professor Tove Fjeld, in 51 offices with living indoor plants, fatigue was reduced by 20%, headaches and sore throats by 30%, coughs by a whopping 40% and dry skin irritations by 25%. In yet another study by Texas A&M Professor Dr. Roger Ulrich, it was proven that when plants are present in hospitals, patients are ready to go home after surgery in less time; they require less pain medication; and nurses report that they are less likely to become upset or despondent from their illness or surgery. Ulrich’s study also showed that plants improved problem solving skills, ideation and creative performance. So research definitely shows that plants improve health!

How Many Plants

Research by NASA as well as Australian Scientist Margaret Burchett have shown that 1 plant per 100-160 square feet of indoor space is sufficient to have an effect and improve indoor air quality. They found that the plant size did not matter as long as they were of the 8” nursery pot size or larger.  The studies have shown that upon initial installation, VOC’S were removed within 4-5 days; any added VOC’s (by addition of furniture etc.) are removed within 24 hours. This shows that plants get better at processing VOC’S.

What are the Costs

There have been many return on investment studies that show anywhere from 30% to 300% ROI. The typical return in the office environment shows 12% improvement in productivity along with 60% reduction in absenteeism rates. This translates to a $24 ROI per day per employee commercially for a cost of about $200 per year per employee for plants including maintenance. The residential environment is difficult to chart due to the fact that there is very little data and not much consistency with which to make accurate measurements. Designs simply vary too much to give accurate ROI numbers.  Experience has shown that most residential clients are not as concerned about specific dollar ROI as they are their interior environmental quality and aesthetics. It is discernible however, that the benefits outweigh the costs.

The Biophilic Connection

When most of us want to relax and unwind, we go for a walk in nature, take our dogs to the park or go camping or fishing. This Biophilic need for plants, life and nature is an archetypical one that is innate in all of us. In her work Building Biophilia: Connecting People to Nature in Building Design, Environmental Psychologist, Judith Heerwagen, PhD states,  “Studies show that incorporating the natural environment into buildings can have a positive influence on psychological, physical and social well being”.  She goes on to state; “Appreciating natural beauty isn’t something that some people have and others don’t. It doesn’t need advanced education and training. It happens without effort or even conscience awareness. The more our buildings can tap into our ancient sense of beauty, the more likely they will support us psychologically and emotionally, as well as functionally”. Our job as designers, contractors and builders is to educate and reconnect our clients to this need by providing them with the highest quality of design, décor and environmental quality as we can. Now more than ever the health benefit, productivity improvements and the return on investment for the biophilic connection to nature should be part of that design.


Joe Zazzera, is President and CEO of Scottsdale based Plant Solutions Incorporated and is a Governing Council Board member of the USGBC Central Arizona Chapter. He is a national board member of Green Plants for Green Buildings and Chair of their LEED Advocacy Committee. His goal is to see indoor plants adopted into the Indoor Environmental Quality, IEQ,  section of the LEED rating system. Joe is a LEED AP as well as an Accredited Green Roof Professional, GRP through Green Roofs For Health Cities.
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