Are Living Walls Worth Creating Over Other Sustainable Options?

The shift towards green architecture is increasingly becoming popular among commercial and residential property owners. In the past, making a building sustainable used to be a nice-to-have afterthought, but now it has become a priority. Aside from using renewable energy sources and materials that are sustainable, a typical way to achieve sustainability is to incorporate nature into built structures in a more seamless manner. While this may not be an issue in buildings constructed within palatial grounds, integrating greenery in smaller modern spaces is much more difficult. This problem, however, can be solved by building a living wall.

Living walls or vertical gardens are not new. They have existed for thousands of years but in a more natural setting. However, it is only now that it is becoming trendy to create one in urban environments. This brings into question then whether creating a living wall in your property is a sound choice. Is it worth the effort or not? Creating a living wall has its pros and cons. Depending on your needs and current situation, you can decide what is best for you.

Purpose of a living wall

There are many different reasons why a property owner would decide to create a living wall. For a resort owner, it would look amazing for the guests and can serve as a centrepiece of the property. For a millennial vlogger, it could serve as an eye-popping #OOTD wall background. And lastly, for a family who values sustainability, adding greenery into their home means cleaner air and fewer pollutants.

Before you decide to build a garden wall, the purpose must be crystal clear. Is it only for aesthetic purposes or do you want to benefit from the living wall in other ways such as having your own herb garden indoors or making your home more sustainable? This is important because this will help you when selecting what types of plants will go into your living wall or if this wall is something you actually need in the first place based on your budget and location.

Constructing a living wall

With Pinterest and YouTube, it is not hard to DIY everything nowadays. With just a few clicks and swipes, you can absolutely find designs of modern gardens and living walls on the internet. But while it may seem easy to just construct your own living wall, you’d probably be surprised there are a lot of elements required for it to really thrive and survive.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking they could just recreate a living wall inspiration board only to find out after a couple of weeks that all the plants have dried out and they have to start from scratch again. This is because creating a vertical garden requires the expertise of either a landscape architect, horticulturist, or at least a professional gardener. You cannot simply pick whatever plants you like and then just stick them on your wall. There are many things to consider such as the weather, different seasons, the location of your wall, etc. 

Even commercial property owners who are considering adding living walls in their hotels, spas, malls, or stores must be careful when building such walls, especially indoors. There may be plants or greenery that may not be suitable as they can attract pests or insects. There may also be locations such as restaurants and cafes where living walls may not be ideal. Consulting professional sustainable architecture experts is then recommended to ensure the living wall will be created and maintained correctly.   

The cost and maintenance of a living wall

If your plan is just to place rows of succulents and herbal plants onto some wall shelves, this is not something that will cost you a lot of money nor take much of an effort. After all, succulents are generally low-maintenance and some herbs can grow indoors. However, if you are envisioning a full-on vertical meadow, this will be a different story altogether.

For homeowners, you have to consider whether you have the ability to maintain a living wall. The cost of creating a living wall is not limited to just buying the plants or building the wall. Depending on the types of plants you want to grow, there must be a complete system to ensure the plants are maintained properly (water, drainage, fertilizers, etc.) This is the reason why the upkeep of living walls could be quite costly.

Another consideration is whether you have the time to devote to your ling wall. Do you have a gardener or are you just planning to tend to it yourself? If you don’t have any experience in gardening on flat land, don’t think gardening on a vertical wall is much easier. This poses a bigger challenge.

The simple answer on whether a living wall is difficult to maintain is YES. The time, effort, money, and resources required to maintain one can be overwhelming, especially for a novice. That’s why if you’re just thinking of using it as a backdrop for your Instagram pictures, installing artificial grass may be another eco-friendly alternative. On the other hand, if you have the money to spare combined with the evergreen thumb or access to a gardening company, you can definitely go for it and enjoy its many advantages.

Commercial property owners who are looking into installing living walls may find it easier because these properties typically employ professional maintenance companies for their gardening requirements. However, if you own a smaller commercial property which does not have this service, make sure you hire experienced gardeners to do the maintenance of your living wall. What you don’t want to happen is to spend a lot of money building a stunning living wall only to have it dry up a few weeks later.

Is a living wall great for sustainability?

There are many sustainable advantages of having a living wall in your property. Aside from looking amazing, the added greenery provides oxygen and can even clear the air of pollutants. Living walls can also help in reducing noise levels and can act as insulators. 

However, unlike other sustainable options like using solar panels or LED lighting, creating living walls can be costly and high maintenance. However, that does not change the fact that living walls add an extra wow factor and a calming ambiance to any property. Therefore, the decision on whether you should create a living wall on your property would depend on your purpose, your budget, and your capability to maintain one.

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