The ins and outs of green wall installation and maintenance

user-gravatar Headshot
Updated Jun 20, 2019
Photo: PixabayPhoto: Pixabay

We’ve talked before about climbing plants and the different types, but let’s look now at the topic of green walls, also known as vertical gardens, ecowalls or living walls.

According to the company Ambius, which specializes in green wall installation, green walls are panels of plants which are grown vertically using hydroponics. They can be grown on free-standing structures or can be attached to walls.

While the idea of a green wall may be attractive to customers at first, keep in mind that they do come with their own set of difficulties. Take a look at a few of the challenges associated with designing, maintaining and creating green walls.

Green wall benefits

Not only are green walls beautiful to look at, they are beneficial to the environment and to your customer’s personal health. Whether the walls are outdoors or indoors, clients can still benefit from all these walls offer.

According to Ambius, studies have shown that green walls can increase a commercial building’s property values by up to 20 percent, and they can help clean the air and absorb pollutants from the environment.

Plants naturally filter the air around us, therefore the air quality of your customer’s office or landscape is sure to increase. This is good news for customers interested in adding a green wall to the exterior of their building or home.

Not only will the added foliage bring a new look to the structure, it will also help protect the outside of the building. Plants can help protect the walls of a building from intense sunlight, heavy rains and acid rains, which over time can harm the structure of building materials.

According to Ambius, green walls can also help reduce energy costs when added onto a building, because they are able to regulate the internal temperature of the building while working from the exterior. If a green wall is installed indoors, it can also help regulate humidity levels.

Green walls can also help cut down on noise pollution. Leaves have a natural ability to absorb sounds, and this ability can help cut down on excess noises and sounds in the workplace or in crowded areas. This can help create a more relaxing environment in the office or home space, and it can help reduce noise for customers who live in crowded areas.

Good landscaping, as you well know, can also boost property values. This can be a big selling point to customers who own their own business or for those just looking to increase the value of their home.

Green wall design  

Green walls are very up and coming with customer popularity in the landscape design industry, and they are safe to install on almost any structure, outside or indoors. They are a good statement and focal piece in landscapes and they also help create a good, welcoming environment.

Each green wall will be different depending on your client, so be flexible and have a few design and plant type options up your sleeve when brainstorming. Be sure to remember that different designs and plants will be used in outdoor and indoor green walls also.

“Plants for the exterior are chosen based on climate zone as it’s important to use the correct plants in the correct zones,” Matt Hills, architect I with Ambius, said on the company’s website. “Plants are chosen that will survive in a zone higher than the location’s climate. For example, if you are in Boston we’d pick plants that could survive in a more northern climate. Therefore, the further south you go the more species of plants that will grow and so a wider choice of plants is available for use. The interior plants are completely different from those used in exterior walls. The interior plants are tropical plants from the southern hemisphere, or southern states like Florida.”

Overall, there are three types of green wall design options: panel system, tray system and freestanding walls.

Panel systems have the plants pre-grown into the panels. These can be used in either indoors or outdoors and typically do well in most climates.

Tray systems are popular indoors. With this type of green wall, plants are pre-grown and inserted into the wall. This can offer a good degree of versatility that will allow more of the surface to be covered, or it can be designed as living art.

Freestanding walls are more commonly used indoors and they can be easily changed, whether that’s by relocating the wall or by changing out the plants that are on it.

When talking price, it’s hard to give a ballpark estimate because the price will depend on what type of plants your customer desires and what kind of green wall he/she wants.

Talk to you customer about their preferred timeline. If they are willing to save some money and wait for their plants to grow, they can opt for planting their future green wall plants on-site. This will give them the option of a cheaper method, and it will also let them have more time to decide on a final look.

For those who want to get started on this project quickly, pre-grown plants will be a requirement, which could in turn run up the price just a bit.

Green wall maintenance

Green walls may require a bit more care and attention than other landscape aspects, but that should not deter you from undertaking them as a project.

“To ensure success of the wall, green wall maintenance is critical,” Hills says online. “Most companies insist on a mandatory one year warranty with their green walls…We make sure the wall is installed correctly and then maintained properly for the first year…This is the most critical time for green walls, especially the first few months. It’s essential to get the irrigation and its timing right.”

Many green walls are designed with drip-irrigation systems. These can maximize the use of water and can also be set up using an automated system that manages the time the water runs, which ultimately helps your customers on their water bills.

The most efficient methods are recirculation systems because they reuse the water and pump the water from the bottom to the top until there is no water left. The tank is then refilled.

For those who don’t have the space option for tanks, direct irrigation is also a good choice.

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover