'Buildings that Breath', 'Green Walls', 'Vertical Gardens' or 'Podium Landscapes' - whatever you want to call them, these types of landscape elements are an important aspect of modern Architecture and Landscape Architecture and are making a significant difference to the living and working spaces where we spend so much time.
These elements have some notable benefits when incorporated into the urban fabric although there are important considerations that must be addressed both during construction and for the lifetime of the building including additional maintenance requirements.
Gardens in The Sky
The most cost effective method to achieve a ‘vertical green effect’ is to train a suitable climber to an existing wall or fence. An effective example is the 'Creeping Fig' (FICUS pumila) pictured below growing directly on a concrete wall. It will work just as effectively on timber, brick or stone, and will provide 100% cover in a suitable position.
Most climbers though will require some kind of trellis system and training to suitably cover a wall, particularly many flowering species. Below is an example of ‘Bower of Beauty’ (PANDOREA jasminoides) trained to a wire cable system. A fairly dense cover has been achieved with this species rather quickly due to the sunny position.
The downside of this option is that the climbers will require access to deep soil at ground level or planters of a suitable size to ensure longevity of the plants – essential to the success of the green wall.
Maintenance requirements depend on the desired effect, but having access to all areas is a good idea so that if an area of the plant gets totally out of control, it can be pruned etc.
Epiphytes derive nutrients and water from the air and rain. The use of epiphytes as green walls is one way easy way to achieve a striking result, as long as site conditions are suitable for the plant selection.
This example in King George Square provides a rich variety of colour, texture and form to what otherwise could be a very dull space.
Other systems are effectively a large flat bag of planting medium in a supporting cage structure.
The costs associated with any type of vertical garden depend on many factors such as location, plant species, height, framing, lighting and irrigation system. A professional installer will need to know quite specific details about the project to provide an accurate quote.