Living Walls…What are those?
Living Walls…You may have heard the term once or twice and wondered what it was. Is it a fish tank? Is it a bunch of objects that move? Does the wall breathe? These were the thoughts that went through my mind, but it’s actually none of these. A living wall consists of panels of plants that grow vertically using hydroponics. Some other names for them include: eco walls, green walls, and vertical walls. These beautiful and beneficial living walls bring life to just about anywhere they go, literally and figuratively.
You’ve got options…
There are a ton of different variations depending on personal preference in order to fit well with any kind of style in your home or work space. You can create a design with only plants or even throw in some nice mahogany or chestnut wood. For an industrial look, you could have metal piping for shelves and hooks for bags, coats, etc. The world is your oyster! The possibilities for the location of your wall are endless because they can be inside or outside. It can take up an entire wall or just a wee little section for an area that doesn’t have any floor space…in my opinion that’s the best part about it. You don’t have to have floor space OR counter space to bring greenery to your room…all you need is wall space! For some people like myself, my living quarters are quite limited, so I’ve gotten to the point of becoming extremely creative with my decor and the use of my limited space.
Living walls provide a lot of benefits, and not only to the eye. Firstly, plants are filters. They naturally suck up any carbon dioxide and pollutants in the air and in turn cast out new and improved, squeaky clean oxygen. Secondly, living walls also provide a relaxing vibe in any business or indoor place. For businesses, great performance is crucial for success, and there are studies that people simply feel better when they’re around nature. Thirdly, they help with noise reduction by softening the sounds in a room that has mostly hard surfaces (hardwood flooring, glass walls, counters–no carpet these days). The beauty of plants and flowers can be admired by just about any human. After you take a moment of zoning out and appreciating the finer things in life or “stopping to smell the roses,” you can have a sense of refreshment and calmness in your mind.
Living walls are a unique addition to any room or building. They’re customizable for colors, themes, sizes and shapes of the wall and space you’re trying to fill. You can also change the plants at anytime if you get tired of your current decor.
How does it work?
Living walls are actually built very similar to normal walls. They have a frame that is installed onto an existing wall, or they’re self-standing. Within the frame are pockets for the flowers and plants to sit in. The kind of living wall chosen is based on the person or business preference. If it is incorporated in the early stages of the location’s construction, an irrigation system could be set up in order to avoid hand-watering the more difficult-to-reach placements.
Feeling like Bob the Builder?
By now you’re probably imagining where YOUR living wall is going to go at your work space or home. No worries and do not FRET because I have the steps right below so that you could build your very own DIY Living Wall. Of course you have an option of buying a kit that you can assemble, but where’s the fun in that?
Steps for Becoming a Living Wall Master Builder:
- Choose a location that is the most practical for your living/work space. Whether the wall should or shouldn’t be near a door or window for some sunshine lovin’ (depending on the plants you choose, they may not need sunlight…i.e. succulents) is something to think about. Another thing to consider is that the plants may need to be replaced, which involves dirt– that leads to a mess. You can always put plastic or any type of material that can catch the droppings and be easily picked up. There’s also an option of vacuuming…it’s up to you!
- Measure and mark the area where your masterpiece is going to go (with a pencil) and decide on how big you want it to be. Keep in mind, to properly mount your heavy living wall, you will need to install it using the studs of your existing wall.
- The easiest way for beginners is to use a wooden pallet. After you rummage behind your local grocery store and pick one out, if there are any nails sticking out, hammer them in (these may be a risk depending on the location of where it’s going to be installed). You can use a wire brush to get any excess crud off of the pallet, and you can also bleach the pallet to lighten the wood, use a stain to change the color, or use a finish to smooth out the surface after you sand it a bit.
- Layer the inside of the pallet (where your dirt and plants are going to be nestled in) with plastic, so that you can protect the wood from warping, decaying or worse…rotting. Use a staple gun to securely attach it all. You can never use too many staples, especially if you’re going to have many cubbies of where the plants will sit.
- Next, you want to line the inside of the pallet with landscape material because it provides moisture for your plants to thrive on. Cut the material in strips to fit, using your staple gun or even a hammer and strong tacks to hold in place.
- After you line the inside of the pallet with the plastic and plant friendly material, line the entire outside and back of the pallet with plastic to keep the moisture away from the existing wall (drywall and paint on the wall).
- After you’re done with the linings, you can test it out before hanging it by putting dirt in your new living wall, and water it, so that you can see if any dirt or water leaks out. If there are leaks, locate the leaking area and reline it with plastic to get a better seal. Before hanging the living wall once you’ve established a tight seal, remove the dirt.
- Insert your plants – and Voila!!
Brought to you by the team of Western Landscape Maintenance Plus, Inc.