Q: How do people call vertical gardens? A:There are several names for Vertical gardens, such as Green Wall, Vegetal Wall, Living Wall, Bio Wall and Plant Wall. To keep it simple, I mainly use Vertical Garden and Green wall. Q: What is a Green Wall? A: A Green Wall or Vertical Garden is a wall, either free-standing or part of a building, that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and, in some cases, soil or an inorganic growing medium.
Q: Who invented the green wall?
A: It wasn’t me but I will explain you in detail how to build your own! The creator of Vertical Gardens or Green Walls is the French botanist Patrick Blanc. On this blog you’ll find more information about the person and his projects. I do not intend to copy his vertical gardens. In fact, my vertical gardens are entirely made by myself!
Q: Is it difficult to build your own green wall?
A: No it’s not difficult to build your own vertical garden! All you need are the right materials, suitable plants and I will guide you step-by-step with creating your own vertical garden.
Maintenance Of The Green Wall
The green wall needs simple maintenance, but deserves special attention regarding the following items:
Exposition to light A light source must be quite close and the green wall must receive 12 hours a day minimum.
Watering of the green wall Use a very reliable system for watering system, the wall can dry out quickly.
Removing Bad Weed For an outdoor green wall, maintain monthly checks for weeds as they can over grow your valuable plants. Apart from these simple tips related to plants and the green wall in general, remember that your green wall is based on a structure. So you have to check the frame regularly, but also the attachments that maintain it to floor and building.
Watering System For Vertical Gardens
Vertical garden structure possibilities: ready-made vs customized
When building your own vertical garden, the most important part of the green wall is the structure.
Nowadays you can purchase some ready-made solutions on the market. These green wall structures usually have a fixed size and are made of plastic or felt.
The main advantage obviously is that you don’t have to bother anymore about the most complex part of your wall. However the ones that I saw have the disadvantage that it is unlikely that your plants will cover your green wall entirely and you will still have some parts where you will see the plastic, which is probably not the result we are looking for..
When you decide to build the structure all by yourself, you need to pick the right material from the beginning. For the main structure of your wall, I recommend a water resistant material that is light weight and cheap.
Plants suitable for your green wall
The ivy is particularly well suited to the greening of facades. The plant is a strong climber, however this plant does not damage the walls, although it can damage the paint when its roots leave traces.
A green wall all year round
Ivy is suitable for outdoor green walls as it is resistant to harsh weather conditions (flood, frost, drought …). It stays green all year, allowing it to continue to absorb carbon during the winter when most plants have lost their leaves.
The pollination period of ivy is in late summer. The fruits of ivy appear very early in the year (March), and are a wanted food for fruit-eating birds.
In addition Ivy has an aesthetic value, need for your outdoor green wall. Other species commonly used are the Virginia creeper, honeysuckle, wisteria.
Maintenance green wall plants
The maintenance of facades can not be at all times of the year to meet the rhythms of wildlife and flora who have found refuge. Avoid nesting periods or periods of cold winters during which the vegetation provides shelter for many animals.
To facilitate vegetation and maintain natural processes, retain islands of vegetation (moss, ferns) in the maintenance of facades.
The developer must take into account the problems that can appear when installing a green wall in our outside the building:
Be cautious with moisture, such as humidity penetrating the wall of your home. It may damage paint work. Also be aware of any possible short circuits in case you have artificial lighting installed and / or a water pump.
The increasing weight of your green wall is also something to consider. Is your construction strong enough to support the weight of the vertical garden?
To avoid any of these problems and to keep your green wall in good shape, maintenance and regular checks are needed.
When using exotic plants for your vertical garden, avoid importing unwanted organisms or pathogens, it is recommended to work with specialist growers who can recommend you on the origin of the plants used and can offer your advise concerning legality of the plants used.
Vertical Garden With or Without Filter?
As you know I built a green wall with a watering system that works by itself.
I have to say it’s working very well and it suits a lazy person like me a lot!
However I found out that my vertical garden does need some maintenance once in a while..
Today I found out that one of the drippers got stuck and that no water was flowing through it. Therefore one plant didn’t get the water that it needs. This plant looked already weak for a couple of days, now I know why!
A filter in your watering system will help you in the first place to keep the water clean that is flowing through the dripping system.
However it can still happen that some dirt will get into your drippers, resulting that part of your green wall is not receiving enough water.
My tip: Make sure that you can access the drippers, so you can clean them if necessary.
Plant shopping for my green wall
One of my favorite things to do in the weekend is to visit a plant and flower market. In my city Shanghai. There are several large markets like this and they sell many plants that are suitable for vertical gardening.
Outside green walls – an introduction
Vertical gardens or green walls describe are artificial ecosystems, designed either as aesthetic elements, as part of a so-called urban gardening, sometimes as works of art using the plants or with specific intention of retaining sound or regulate heat.
In the latter case, these walls, such as vegetated terraces or fences, helps to improve the characteristics of a building, and perhaps to restore green areas, particularly in the city.
They can serve as a refuge for birds, insects, but they can also play a role in the microclimate, water purification, sound control and urban air quality. Its horizontal equivalent is a green roof.
History of the vertical garden
Natural colonization by plants on walls is usually considered a problem, the roots damaging the foundations of the building when they are wet. This, under certain conditions, can take off the bricks or contribute moisture to the wall. In the humid areas, some trees can quickly colonize and cover architectures -such as for example the temples in Thailand.
There are some artificial architectural structures, concrete or stone masonry units covered with moss and plants that have existed for over 200 years. These are mainly found in a few large parks typically surrounded with fountains or waterfalls.
This construction is especially found in French gardens in the nineteenth century.
Green walls were then developed in some zoos, and for the set of terrariums, generally using tropical species. This is before the French botanist and scientist Patrick Blanc created, tested and developed his concept of green wall.
Some other techniques of walls where plants grow independently, were developed by designers and landscape architects as new methods for interior spaces.
For instance, Fedor van der Valk has invented mini indoor hanging garden (“String Gardens”) that seem to float in the air supporting cascades of greenery. The New Zealand Patrick Morris was able to give the impression that the ceiling is covered with plants. Many examples of interior walls are now available.
Several Principles of green wall
Green walls or vertical garden can be arranged both outside and inside buildings, with or without artificial source of light.
The principle relies on the fact that without human intervention, in the presence of clean air and sufficient moisture in the air, plants will develop by themselves. In the case where the wall is dry, or a drier atmosphere, it can also be colonized by vines and ivies
Several approaches exist, from the insertion of plants adapted to dry environments which create a structure like a “rock garden” to very sophisticated techniques optimizing the colonization and growth of plants with substrates capable of absorbing and releasing water like coconut fibers.
Or with plastic in which water circulates enriched with nutrients.
In the latter two cases, irrigation works in a closed circuit, and must be adapted to the context and seasonal climate, the watering system is more or less automated depending on the case, as well as the nutrient. An automatic watering systems is one of the core elements of your vertical garden or green wall.
Many tropical plants grow in the shade and need few nutrients, but require soft, pure water (eg rainwater).
Birds and vertical gardening
Increasing biodiversity also increases the presence of birds. However, glass surfaces are a visual trap for birds that hit windows during day or night.
The bird may be the victim of a mirror where the glass reflects the sky.
At night, birds frequently hit the window of a lighted room, a victim of the effects of light pollution.
In the latter case, the frequency of collisions can be reduced by 80% by using a heavy curtain. Such a simple measure to make your green wall more bird friendly.
By day, it greatly reduces the risk of collision by affixing a black silhouette of a bird of prey, even more effectively if it is hanging by a thread that allows it to move. These figures are marketed by various associations and institutions. They do not interfere with local wildlife adapts and prevent collisions with migratory birds passing through.
The father of the green wall : Patrick Blanc
The Botanist Patrick Blanc’s is a CNRS researcher , who used to like to observe tropical plants grow in their natural environment. He had the idea to recreate the vertical rainforest. The idea is simple yet still great: Plants are placed on a vertical support on which they have their roots . They are drip fed by a nutrient solution that flows from top to bottom in the vertical support.
The green walls of Patrick Blanc are all without soil, like tree trunks and rocks rain forests. The result is an extraordinary vertical wall of plants- generally tropical. Now they have been colonizing cities hotel, restaurant and shop. They give back to plants their place in the city. Just as a green oasis, the green wall on a big building is like the heart and lungs of the city.
When you decide to build your own vertical garden, it’s most likely that your inspiration comes from a man who practically invented vertical gardening: Patrick Blanc.
In nature plants have learned to adapt to a vertical existence. Plants grow on cliffs, dead tree trunks and rocks. Plants that grow vertically usually have learned to spread their roots over a wide surface, rather than penetrating deeply in the soil.
Exactly these natural ecosystems have been Patrick Blanc’s inspiration for his green walls. It is said that Blanc has traveled the world in search for the right plants. Not only did Patrick Blanc research plants that grow vertically, he also selected plants according to criteria such as differing light and temperature exposures.
So who is Patrick Blanc, the man who devoted his life to vertical gardening?
Patrick Blanc was born on June 3rd, 1953 in Paris. Blanc gained his doctorate at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. Since 1982 Patrick Blanc has been a scientist for CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
Patrick Blanc has performed several scientific missions since 1972 which includes research in Guyana &1989) and Cameroon (1989). Further Blanc is a lecturer at universities and a professor for PhD students.
Patrick Blanc Books / Publications
- 1990, Patrick Blanc: Biologie d’une canopée de forêt équatoriale : rapport de Mission Radeau des cimes, octobre-novembre 1989, Petit Saut, – Guyane française, (“Biology under an equatorial forest: report of Study Radeus, October–November 1989, French Guyana, a collective study under the direction of Francis Hallé et Patrick Blanc, Departement of Industry and xylochemistry
- 2002, Patrick Blanc, Être plante à l’ombre des forêts tropicales (“Putting plants in the light of tropical forests”), Éditions Nathan
- 2005, Patrick Blanc, Le bonheur d’être plante, (“The pleasure of being a plant”), Éditions Maren Sell (ISBN 2-350-04018-6)
- 2007, Patrick Blanc, Folies végétales (“Plants’ follies”), (lecture, Paris), éditions Chêne
- 2008, Patrick Blanc, Le Mur Végétal, de la nature à la ville (“The green wall in town and country”), éditions Michel Lafon
Nowadays Patrick Blanc has built many vertical gardening projects spread around the world. If you’re living in any capital city, there’s a good chance that Blanc has left his mark.
I grew up in France and lived in Paris for a couple of years. There you can find several vertical gardening projects from Patrick Blanc, including the large green wall at the Perhsing Hall in Paris. Or the green wall at the Fondation Cartier.
Nowadays I live in Shanghai, and also here in China Patrick Blanc has done a beautiful indoor green wall at LAN, Shanghai.
First of all: I’m a huge fan of Patrick Blanc’s work!
To end this post devoted to Patrick Blanc, I like to mention what some people say about his green wall projects and his reasoning behind it.
1. Is the only advantage of Patrick Blanc green walls aesthetics?
Some of the critics are that Blanc’s walls barely improve the insulation of a building. Furthermore his green walls consume electricity with its high power water pumps. Also his green walls usually consume tap water instead of rain water. Do you personnel think that there are any other real advantages to Blanc’s green walls besides the aesthetics?
2. If the first objective of Patick Blanc is to build a greener world, why to put patents on his techniques, isn’t this fact questionable?
What is the reason for the patents that Patrick Blanc has acquired on his vertical gardening techniques? Aren’t such patents slowing down the number of green wall projects?
The advantages of the vertical garden
The green wall or the vertical garden is a new process plant on façade or building which differs from a wall as it is simply covered in vines.
At the aesthetic side the green wall improves the beauty of a building.
It enriches architecture by creating small rainforest in constant motion – seasonal appearance, colors …, it also offers designers unprecedented opportunities to integrate a building to its environment or to make the urban areas greener.
Flexible and easy to implement, the vertical garden is therefore not only decorative: it prevents the building from graffiti, it also improves the acoustic performance and heat performance.
The vertical garden absorbs sounds
A full grown green wall offers an absorbing surface. The green wall is a sound insulating material which can be used for the construction of noise-shields. Such as Airports, Highways, Structures, Circuits motor sports, industrial sites, Home, Office Buildings …
The vertical garden regulates heat
Green wall is part in the ecological revolution. It regulates heat gain and losses of buildings as well as humidity, improve air quality. Moreover it protects the walls of solar radiation and reduces the temperature of a wall directly exposed to the sun of 10 ° C to 15 ° C.
The green wall is colorful
The green wall is changing with the seasons and the growth of the plants, it is composed of colors, different textures changing according to season.
The composition of the plant colors depends to the site location and direction North / South / East / West.
The green wall releases pleasant smell
In addition to the decorative wall, the plants can have odor properties:
Cassis, mint, lemon, pineapple or vanilla smells can be released by the wall by making the right selection of herbs …
You can smell it by walking by or even to crush a few leaves in the fingers to release a perfume.
Low Water consumption
You can make your green wall water efficient by irrigating it at regular intervals, and not too often.
Also using different materials for the bases can be extremely hydro retaining and form an integrated natural water reserve. In my case, I had few choices of materials due to my location. I advise to ask a gardening shop about their specific innovative water-retaining materials.
My noisy green wall waterpump
Today I went to a shop to buy an new water pump for my vertical garden.
I was excited to learn that the shops was selling a water pump with the right dimensions for my green wall. So I immediately bought it and went home to connect it to my watering system.
However when I came home I found out that this water pump is not suitable for my green wall..
Even though the pump was relatively small in size, it much a lot of noise!
First I thought that I would get used to the noise. But after a few days I got really annoyed by the disturbing sound. Therefore I decided to bring the pump back..
My tip for picking the right water pump:
When you buy the water pump for your vertical garden, always ask if you can see the model in working mode. When you install the vertical garden in your living room, it’s important to have a pump that produces little noise. Even though the pump is under water, some pumps make quite some noise which obviously you don’t want in your home!
Green wall problem: overwatering my plants
First I didn’t understand why this happened, as my watering system is functioning very well and the plants receive plenty of water.
After talking with a gardener friend I realized the problem: my Ivy plant received too much water, and the roots started to rot.
Ivies don’t need a large amount of water. When you plant Ivies in the ground, watering them once or twice a week is already sufficient. Handling Ivies for your vertical garden is a bit different from planting them in your garden:
Tip: I would advice to plant Ivies at the top of your green wall where these get less water than at the bottom. Do not over water ivies or the roots will start to rot and the plant will die.
Why choose to do a Vertical Garden over a traditional garden?
When utilising the large amount of wall space that you have to install a Vertical Garden you are maximising the amount of usable space that is precious in small apartments or town houses. Each square metre in your home can be around $5,000 – $7,000 per square metre!
The Vertical Garden also has further advantages such as:
Thermal Insulation – Reduce the temperature of an area on hot days while keeping the warmth in on cooler days.
Saves water – By only needing small doses of water more often, Vertical Gardens use less water then a traditional garde, By adding a reticulation pump in a trough at the bottom of the garden you will rarely need to top up the water. Also by adding a catchment trough you have created an easy application area for fertilisers to be added to the water for a healthy Vertical Garden.
Air Filtration – Vertical Gardens can create greater air quality in indoor and outdoor areas. By the plant acting as a natural filters, the carbon monoxide is taken out of the air with oxygen being put back into the air.
Stunning visual effects – By installing a Vertical Garden on a blank wall you are creating a great visual effect that was once a blank and boring wall. When installed in a office clients will have a perfect view of the Vertical Garden if installed in a waiting room and will not mind waiting!
It takes that boring old garden bed to new and exciting places that you would have never thought possible.. until now!
Vertical Gardening Tips
Simply speaking, vertical gardening is making the most of your usable gardening space indoors or out by utilizing climbing plants and vegetables, or by training non-climbing varieties to grow.
Vertical gardening is the only logical step in this ever expanding urban environment that we live in.
Vertical Gardening Growing Tips:
The majority of vegetable plants require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Locate your garden facing south if possible; this will insure that they receive ample sunlight.
Unless you are planting shade-loving vegetables,such as lettuce or spinach stay away from trees and shrubs.
As container gardens dry out easily, we recommend using self-watering container which has a reservoir and a wicking system to make that water available to plants on demand and prevents nutrient leaching.
Place yourvertical container garden near a convenient source of water. With proper advanced planning, you can design your garden so that all you need to do is turn on the faucet for a few minutes to provide adequate water to all of your plants.
Plants in a traditional garden are also afforded a wider root system that can spread out and pull nutrients and water from the surrounding soil, while a vertical garden is limited to only the soil in its “pocket or pot.” With this being the case, you must be vigilant about watering your vertical container garden.
Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are much better to use than regular soil. They are relatively sterile, pH adjusted and allow the plants to get enough air and water.
There are many types of potting soils available, you will need to do your research on which type is best for the vegetables you are growing.
Because container gardens require frequent watering, you must also use a liquid fertilizer or a compost tea on your garden frequently. In hot months with a lot of sun, this may require you to water your vertical garden a minimum of once per day.
Container gardens do well using a slow release or complete organic fertilizer at planting. This type of fertilizer will keep your vegetables fed for the whole growing season.
Vegetables that grow well in a vertical container garden
What plants grow best in self watering containers because they thrive on consistent moisture and grow better in the warm soil of a container.
The size of container you will need depends on the variety of plant you choose. Miniature tomatoes will do well in a window box, full size tomatoes require a larger container which can be placed at the bottom of the gardening panel or planted directly in the ground.
Even if you don’t live in an urban area, you may simply live in a place where the soil and weather simply do not allow for a traditional garden, or you may not have the time it takes to get your existing soil to become a suitable habitat for your plants. A container garden on our vertical growing stand provides you with the opportunity to produce non-seasonal vegetables right in your own living space.
Imagine a world where vegetables and fruit all climb, twine and grow upward, creating beautiful and bountiful landscapes that save space, require less effort, produce high yields, and reduce pest and disease problems. Whether your goal is self-reliance or the simple satisfaction of growing your own foods, a bountiful vegetable and fruit harvest can be yours regardless of the amount of space you have.
Indoor Vertical Gardens Add to Health and Productivity
Dr. Kamal Meattle researched the effects of indoor plants on the office work environment, a task he embarked upon after suffering deleterious health effects beginning with his job at an office building in New Delhi, India, a populous city noted for the poor quality of its air.
Dr. Meattle’s study over the years proved that plants can increase the oxygen content of the air in the office environment, as well as decrease a series of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethane and ammonia. Blood oxygen increased 1% in study participants, and productivity increased 20%.
The three plants used in the Delhi offices, the areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), the money plant (Epipremnum aureum) and the mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) provided the following benefits:
- Lowered eye irritation 52%
- Lowered respiratory symptoms 34%
- Lowered headaches 12%
- Lowered lung impairment 24%
- Decreased asthma 9%
- Increased blood oxygen 1% in 42% of workers after 10 hours in the building
- Decreased energy requirements 15% due to less need for air cycling
- Increased productivity 20%
These are not the only plants that give similar results. A former NASA scientist, Dr. Wolverton, conducted research in the use of plants for maintaining livable environments for astronauts during space missions, and has put that knowledge to use for improving the livability of home and office spaces. He has written a book with a list of 50 plants that can be used as substitutes for the 3 plants discussed in the video, including those that better fit into a vertical garden motif.
Sick Building Syndrome is the name given to the ailments commonly found in poorly ventilated houses and offices that result from various VOCs and irritants that come with our current lifestyle . A bevy of chemicals get released by the products of our modern construction and decor such as carpets, furniture and building materials, and are then trapped by well-insulated or closed ventilation systems. Add to this the use of various products that release VOCs in the home such as paint thinners, cleaners, degreasers, even clothes that have been dry cleaned. The ability to remove these gasses from the air and provide the aesthetic benefits of a lush green environment makes adding plants,whether as part on a vertical garden or just placed on the floor in pots, to the indoor home or office practically an imperative.
Starting your Vertical Garden indoors
What can I plant in my vertical garden containers?
Vertical Gardening in Northern States
Fall and Winter Vertical Gardening
|Beets||All Winter||5-20 F|
|Broccoli-Autumn Harvest||TP||Spring-Summer||Before severe frost|
|Brussels Sprouts-Winter Harvest||
|P||Winter||After severe frost|
|Cabbage- Autumn-Winter Harvest||
|P||Autumn-Winter||Before heavy frost|
|Cabbage-Winter Harvest||TP||Winter||Before heavy frost|
|Chicory||TP||Winter||After heavy frost|
|Chinese Cabbage||TP||Late Fall||20 F|
|Leeks-Winter Harvest||TP||Winter-Spring||5 F|
|Mustard Greens||Winter||5 F|
|Parsley Root||Winter||0 F|
|Swiss Chard||Fall-Winter||5 F|
||Seeds are normally this time of year outside.|
||Transplanting: Normal time seedings are transplanted to a larger container|
||Indicates vegetables that can remain outdoors longer when covered|