Are you staring at a blank wall? Or two blank walls, or three –  or even four? If these walls are in a garden (any outdoor space for that matter) or a shop, an office or a hotel, then read on. Living Walls are a trend that is here to stay.

They’ve already been around for no little time in North America, in both the home and the retail sectors. The first one that made me take notice was in an unlikely location, sleepy Canmore, the beautiful mountain town in Canada that I visited several years ago. It was in the revamped Rocky Mountain Soap Shop (think Lush in the mountains). If you could make it through the front door without passing out, there before you on the far wall was a stunning green vista; an intertwined rhapsody of vegetation. A Living Wall. Quite how it survived in there, assaulted as it was on a daily basis by withering combinations of soap fumes, I’m not quite sure. But survive it did. In fact it seemed to be doing better than that. It was thriving.

But what exactly is a Living Wall?

We could call a Living Wall a vertical garden or green-eco wall. Whatever label you wish to give it a Living Wall is a structure for either indoors or outside your home or workplace where plants are grouped together to grow and form a lush green carpet wall of vegetation. This is a wonderful path to follow for anyone who wishes to both improve their living space and reap the benefits that nature can bring. Living Walls are both beautiful and functional for those who live and work amongst them.

Benefits of a Living Wall

Healthy Air: The plants on the Living Wall fight carbon emissions, infuse oxygen into the air, increase the humidity and decrease dust which will naturally purify the air. How eco-friendly is that? Many airborne polluted particles get trapped in the Living Wall and this has to be welcome news, especially in the light of recent research showing how air pollution affects both our short and long term health. As an added bonus, allergy reduction improves health and provides improved resistance to colds and flu – so more welcome news. Out with carbon monoxide and benzine, in with improved air quality!

Aesthetics: Indoors or out, artistic and liveability are key words for the design of a Living Wall. The calming effect of the colour green leads to alluring environments, especially if you are looking at a large structure in an urban space. Have you ever noticed that dental surgeries and hospital wards are often painted green to encourage calmness? Interior designers can create that ‘wow’ factor with living breathing walls whilst at the same time encouraging sustainability.

Habitat: With specific reference to external Living Walls and especially those that incorporate local  native plants, it is possible to meet the habitat requirement of many insects and birds, and even some small wildlife animals. A very worthwhile exercise especially in the light of the recent bee crisis.

Noise Reduction: Possibly not the most obvious benefit of a Living Wall but the vegetation will naturally block any noise, which will also be absorbed by the air gap between the plants and the wall.

Reducing Stress: It doesn’t take an expert to know that plant foliage is pleasant to look at, but research has shown that being close to greenery has a massive effect on our wellbeing. It is particularly effective at reducing stress in work related environments.

Energy Costs: Unlike brick or concrete, plant surfaces don’t store up solar energy, but reflect it. Both interior and exterior walls help to actively cool the air in summer, reducing the need to cool a building. But the advantages of green walls don’t end with the summer. In winter they can reduce heating costs by acting as an insulation blanket.

Where can Living Walls be used?

Living Walls can be fitted to both new buildings and renovations, from adventurous garden projects to large commercial developments. Completely versatile, they can be installed inside offices or attached to the outside surfaces of buildings. The public sector too could certainly benefit from the environmental gains of these systems, contributing as they would to its CO2 reduction targets, but really, any industry, or individual for that matter, could reap the rewards for years to come – as a reasonably new technology, the lifespan of living green walls is difficult to estimate with certainty, but in general it can be seen that the hardware, the panels and the growth media can last up to 25 years.

So there you have it. Above I’ve listed just a few of the benefits and applications of Living Walls and believe me, there are many more. Living Walls are the future. With benefits to health and happiness they are a revolution that wants to see the end of concrete and the start of nature reclaiming urban space. To include a Living Wall as part of a wider garden design, contact North Leeds Garden Design today to discuss your ideas.