Plants are fantastic – they provide food, regulate temperatures through transpiration, underpin ecosystems, help lock-up moisture and carbon, protect soil from erosion and they look good too. They can help improve air quality, with some studies indicating that they can cut pollution by up to 30%.
These are all things we could do with more of in our urban areas, where plants can the literally ‘thin on the ground’, but where there is rarely additional land available for new green space.
The solution: vertical green walls.
The concept is hardly new, vertical planting was supposedly a key aspect of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but using modern structures and substrates, we can now produce an increasing array of green walls using modern hydroponics and different structures and substrates.
Green walls have many additional advantages; deflecting water away from building surfaces, providing a degree of insulation and noise adsorption etc. It’s also possible to plant a variety of edible species, including herbs and some soft fruits, such as strawberries, or scented varieties.
They are increasingly being used architecturally, both externally, and internally, and several organisations and companies now produce advice for home gardeners who are interested in producing their own green walls in their own properties, such as the Royal Horticultural Society, Biotecture, Green Over Grey and the amazing site DIY Greenwalls.
Building a few more green walls in our urban areas could provide a large number of benefits for very little cost – not least providing a welcome splash of natural greenery, which will help improve people’s wellbeing and connection with the natural world. Something we could definitely do with more of.
Photo from Thelmadatter via Wikicommons