A lush vertical garden takes up minimal floor space and can transform the appearance of your home, both indoors and out. But good looks aren’t all that a living wall has to offer. Architects today are increasingly using space-savvy vertical plantings in buildings to boost our health and well-being, particularly in urban high-rises where our connection with nature is often tenuous at best. Here are five reasons to consider adding one to your abode.
1. Nature Connection
“Biophilia” is defined as a love of life and the living world, and describes our innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.
Vertical gardens are biophilic designs that integrate natural elements, materials and forms into architecture. Research has shown that including a mix of plant species in a vertical garden at home can have a potent biophilic effect, providing measurable physical and physiological benefits to the people who live in the home.
Positive effects include reduced stress levels, enhanced cognitive function and creativity, a deeper sense of happiness and well-being, and even the ability to heal faster.
2. Improved Air Quality
For those in urban areas, it’s all too easy to spend a lot of time inside — working, relaxing and socializing in an enclosed, air-conditioned environment.
But spending so much time inside can be dangerous. Some air-conditioned environments contain toxic substances, such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and xylene — and thesepollutantscan have a serious impact on health. Plants purify the air by filtering out these pollutants as well as carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, according to aNASA study on indoor air pollution abatement. Installing a green wall can help. The increased oxygen levels will help keep you awake and alert so you can be more productive at work and at home.
3. Cooler and More Comfortable Temperature
The urban heat island effect occurs when human activity causes a metropolitan area to become significantly warmer than the rural areas surrounding it. Essentially, it results from the modification of the land and atmosphere to build cities, combined with the energy created by people, transport and the hard surfaces of buildings (the hard surfaces absorb the sun’s heat and then emit it into the surroundings).
Exterior vertical gardens can mitigate this effect and make our cities more sustainable by reducing absorption of thermal energy by building walls, so less heat would then be transmitted to interior spaces. As a result, the need to flip the air conditioning switch to stay cool and comfortable inside a home would be reduced.
Interior vertical gardens featuring a range of lush green plants can also improve the environment by reducing air temperature, balancing humidity levels and increasing airflow.
They can help make an outdoor entertaining area cooler in the warmer months too — and extend the time people want to spend out there, effectively increasing usable floor space.
4. Noise Control
Hard surfaces commonly found in buildings can result in reverberation, which can create distracting acoustics inside and out for someone trying to relax or entertain.
If noise pollution is an issue in your home, a green wall can help. The leaves of plants reflect and absorb noise energy — and the more greenery you have in your home’s interior or exterior, the more sound will be muffled.
5. Being Part of a New Global Movement
The WELL Building Standard is a new set of guidelines developed by the International WELL Building Institute — a leader in a global movement that aims to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive. The WELL Building Standard is the first to focus exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices and generally enhance our health and wellness.
According to the WELL Building Standard, vertical gardens are one of the key design features available to improve the health and well-being of a building’s occupants — particularly in compact spaces.
They’re an increasingly common sight in new builds around the world. And they will only become more popular as they become easier and more economical to maintain and as the technology around growth, watering and lighting systems improves.
Top Tips for Adding a Living Wall
Want to install a green wall in your own home? Here are some tips for planting success.
Courtyards and balconies are ideal locations. However, a living wall can be installed anywhere indoors or out where there is enough natural light.
The plant species you choose will dictate how much sun is required. But generally speaking, walls that receive around four hours of morning or midday sunlight, but are protected from the harsh afternoon sun, are ideal.
If natural light is insufficient, consider having specialty lighting installed.
Any plant that can be grown in a small amount of soil can potentially be planted in a vertical garden. Herbs and small plants are ideal.
Succulents that don’t require a lot of nutrients or water are well-suited to low-maintenance vertical gardens, while ornamental plants with lush foliage require a more controlled and well-maintained planting system.
-Written by: John Lea, A Houzz Contributor
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