Living Wall Benefits
Living walls offer a variety of benefits, many of which are a result of fulfillment of the human need to connect with nature. The study of which is known as ‘biophilia,’ a growing field of study that emphasizes the physiological and resultant economic benefits that come from restoring natural connections in our built environment.
Green walls improve air quality.
Through the natural process of evapotranspiration, your living wall plants also release water vapor that cools the air in summer and restores healthful moisture to heated spaces in winter.
The net effect may be a reduction of allergies from particulate reduction and improved resistance to cold, flu and itchiness thanks to hydrating the membranes and tissues of the nose, mouth, ears and eyes.
Plants naturally infuse the air with oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide levels for overall improved quality. Plant leaves can remove traces of toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.
Not only do plants take in more CO2 than they release, plants on the building envelope have a natural cooling effect. This results in lowered demand for mechanical air-conditioning and the resultant carbon emissions.
Less air conditioning also means less hot air is emitted into the atmosphere. Also, because plants absorb sunlight for photosynthesis, less energy is reflected and absorbed as heat. The greening of building surfaces helps to reduce the urban heat island effect.
Paint with plants
Artistic expression comes to life with LiveWall living gardens, where there is no limit to the creative possibilities. Transform your building wall into a living canvas with a broad palette of plants.
Living walls can serve as a means of expression, creating a unique space for people to express themselves in various ways.
By its nature, living art moves and adapts to the environment it occupies. Green walls react to available sunlight and grow to fill in available space. This creates a dynamic work of art that is always evolving. This ever changing nature creates a unique experience each time the art is viewed.
Examples of illustrative living wall projects
The plants in these living walls are arranged to illustrate and object or animal, or to represent an idea, brand, or logo.
Living walls allow for urban greenery where ground-level landscape space is in short supply. Green communities see less violence, aggression, vandalism and littering.
Landscaped communities encourage residents to spend more time outside, contributing to a greater degree of informal surveillance and thus crime deterrence. Safer communities are more attractive to potential and current residents, encouraging population stability.
Similarly, green communities correlate with increased sense of pride and place, levels of trust, and civic participation. Residents in green communities spend more time outdoors and forming bonds with neighbors.
Increased positive public sentiment can support other community goals, such as maintaining population levels that bolster a community’s economic sustainability and stability.
Landscaped communities are more attractive to tourists and shoppers, and community planners can balance the desire for greenness with the desire for wide, welcoming sidewalks through green walls.
The plants in the living wall cool and beautify neighborhoods without taking up ground space, and surface runoff can be collected, treated and used for irrigation, reducing site runoff.
Plants and soil help recreate habitat for butterflies, pollinators, and songbirds.
We have observed nests with eggs or chicks in the springtime, and even frogs taking a break in our living wall planters!
The LiveWall system is mounted on vertical furring tracks, which allow for air movement and moisture escape from the building envelope.
Living wall plants absorb sunlight and release water during transpiration, which cools the building surface and reduces the amount of expansion and contraction of the envelope due to heat fluctuations and eliminates direct UV exposure.
When used outdoors, the evapotranspirative effects of living wall plants and the growing medium can reduce HVAC costs during hot weather.
Maximize the benefits of this cooling effect by covering the sides of the building that receive the most sunlight (in Northern Hemisphere, south- and west-facing) with full, broad-leaved plants.
Living walls can be used to mask the sight, sound and smell of equipment and utilities to convert undesireable space to gathering places.
Green walls are an attractive organic alternative to traditional two-dimensional architectural siding treatments.
Enclosing equipment and utilities with plant walls converts eyesores to beautiful points of interest, wholly transforming hostile spaces to inviting.
Plants, soil and air trapped in the soil and between leaves are acoustic insulators. Vertical gardens dampen and reduce noise, which is of great benefit to building occupants affected by traffic, trains, industry, airports or mechanical equipment.
In rooms with hard-floors and ceilings, living walls increase sound absorption. A reduction in sound reflection allows for a more comfortable ambient noise level.
To optimize noise reduction, increase the surface area of the living wall through billowing or upright large-leaved plants.
When used to surround recycling and waste dumpsters, or areas housing equipment for wastewater treatment or food processing, living walls can help improve both the appearance and the smell of areas adjacent to these facilities.
Studies on vegetation buffers for controlling animal farm odors found that leaves and other aerial plant surfaces remove some of the dust, gas, and microbial components of airstreams.
In response to growing concerns about where and how our food is produced, urban farmers are utilizing any available surfaces to grow food for local consumption with a smaller carbon footprint, optimum nutrition, and ultimate freshness.
Vertical gardens are a popular solution in the rising urban farming movement as horizontal space can be difficult to come by in densely populated areas. Even in rural and suburban areas, restaurateurs, senior caregivers, healthcare providers, and homeowners are turning to “vertical farming” for affordable, low-maintenance food production.
When used to grow herbs and vegetables, produce from a living wall provides supplemental food that is healthy for the body and the environment.
Children—and adults—who are involved in the process of growing their own food are more likely to have healthier diets.
An exterior living wall planted with edibles and receiving direct sunlight can produce abundant yields, approximately 1 ounce per square foot per week of greens and herbs.
Chefs need not get on their hands and knees to weed, and patients or residents with limited mobility can enjoy the benefits of horticultural therapy without the need to bend or walk.
FAQ about Growing Food in a Vertical Garden
Because of its natural orientation, roomy planters, efficient water delivery system and drainage design, LiveWall supports a broad variety of healthy edible plants. Below are some of the foods that we have grown successfully in the LiveWall system.
- Cucumbers (miniature)
- Eggplant (miniature)
- Onions (miniature)
- Peppers (compact varieties)
- Tomatoes (cascading / patio)
- Leaf Lettuce
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- Muskmelon (midget)
Herbs for Sunny Walls
(typically South or West-facing)
- Beebalm (Bergamot)
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Grass
- Wheat Grass
Medicinal and Aroma-therapeutic
- Aloe Vera
- Scented Geranium
- Sweet Woodruff
A vertical garden, or living wall used to grow food such as vegetables, herbs and fruits, requires several things – proper orientation, lighting, water, drainage and nutrition. LiveWall supports these basic plants needs and yields healthy vertical gardens.
In nature, nearly every edible plant grows with its roots toward the center of the earth (positive geotropism) and its stems and leaves toward the sun (negative geotropism). Plants organs also tend to grow in a straight line (known as autotropism).
When the plants are turned sideways in an unnatural orientation that results in unnatural growth patterns, as is the design of a number of vertical garden systems, they divert energy from foliar and fruit production in effort to correct their orientation. Some systems designed in this manner may also be prone to soil erosion and can be difficult to water or fertilize.
LiveWall offers natural orientation, with the plant roots growing downward and stems and leaves growing upward.
In most cases, typical indoor lighting is insufficient in intensity and inadequate in color spectrum to grow healthy edibles. Unfortunately, the small herb wall nested underneath your kitchen cabinets is not likely to perform well unless its facing a large, open window that gets several hours of direct sunlight daily, or supplemented with an intense light source of the right spectrum (such as the 15 degree Norb® bulb).
An exterior living wall planted with edibles and receiving sufficient direct sunlight can produce abundant yields, approximately 1 ounce per square foot per week of greens and herbs. Typically, food living walls perform best outdoors on south- or west-facing walls.
As with any plants, supplying the optimum amount of water — not too little and definitely not too much — is critical to success. With the LiveWall system, young edible plants will likely require just one minute per day of irrigation during summer months. As they grow larger, the green wall likely will need two minutes per day of irrigation. In extreme, prolonged heat, longer run times may be needed.
Our seasonal irrigation chart recommends exact runs times based upon wall orientation and average daily temperatures. Our vertical gardens are shipped with controllers or hose timers (on smaller applications), which can be set to run on a schedule. So, you are free to go on vacation without needing to find someone to care for the plants. In volunteer-run or community gardens, this is insurance against gaps in staffing. And, for restaurants, this means one less distraction from spending time in the kitchen.
Proper drainage is perhaps the most overlooked plant need in competing vertical garden designs. Positive drainage is necessary to prevent diseases, fungal or bacterial infections, and salt build-up in living wall planters.
LiveWall systems are designed to drain for healthy roots.
Vegetables, greens, and herbs require supplemental nutrition to produce foliage and fruit for consumption.
LiveWall makes it easy to fertilize. On outdoor systems, a granular, controlled-release fertilizer can be applied, typical once or twice per growing season. Alternatively, a fertigation unit feeds metered amounts of liquid plant food into the water at each irrigation event.
Most edibles by their nature are annuals and require replanting each growing season. With this in mind, we designed our vertical gardens to make the planting process easy. Removable planter inserts allow for the harvested, spent plants to be emptied and composted quickly and efficiently.
If desired, these inserts allow for young plants to be be started in a greenhouse. When the danger of frost has passed, the established vegetables or greens are simply dropped into place in the living wall.
Health and Well-Being
A growing body of research has built evidence of the physical and mental health benefits resulting from access to and interaction with plants. Living walls offer space-saving and high impact methods of bringing nature to the built environment, thus allowing residents, employees, customers, and patients to benefit from the healing power of plants.
Patients who physically interact with plants use less medication and experience significantly reduced recovery times after medical procedures.
Using plants and planted walls in healthcare enhances the experience of patients, visitors and staff, who report greater satisfaction and positive feelings in the presence of nature.
Mobile healing gardens also are possible with LiveScreen, which can be easily moved to allow greater patient access to therapeutic gardening exercises.
Researchers have found lowered cortisol levels and reduced reported anxiety levels correlating with access and interaction with plants.
Colors can have an effect on our emotions. Green is linked to safety, so green foliage typical of indoor plantings create a comforting environment.
Healing Garden project examples
The following green walls are installed on buildings used for healthcare, therapy, rehabilitation and other forms of healing.
Living walls are very effective marketing tools. People tend to stay longer and feel better about their time spent in the presence of plants.
Shoppers stay in stores longer and visit more frequently when plants are heavily prevalent inside and outside retail settings.
Consumers purchase more merchandise and are willing to pay higher prices for goods when surrounded by nature.
Living walls can be used to improve the view in leased space, translating into more dollars guests or tenants are willing to spend.
A living wall tells customers, residents, employees or neighbors that you care about your community, your health, and the ecosystem.
Local ordinances prohibiting signage may approve a wall of plants featuring organization’s colors or patterned in the shape of a corporate logo.
Performance and Productivity
Our innate need to connect with nature is known as biophilia. This is the driving force behind our boost in mood, sharper focus, and stronger immune system when we are exposed to natural environments. Living walls are a great way to trigger the biophilic response and improve performance and productivity.
Workplaces which incorporate biophilic design elements such as access to nature have reduced absenteeism, fewer complaints, and improved staff retention.
Providing access to nature in the workplace can reduce eyestrain, relieve mental fatigue, and improve focus on tasks.
Integrating plants into workplaces yields productivity gains and reduced psychological stress.
Student exposure to nature has been correlated with higher academic performance in Math and English.
Studies have also demonstrated that exposure to nature eases symptoms of ADHD.