Most of us consider vine covered brick a living wall and wouldn’t conceive of the picture above if it wasn’t shown to us. While the green roof is an old but somewhat logical idea, (after all every urban dweller can see the benefits of creating a roof garden), planting a vertical wall is a gravity defining challenge for both architects and horticulturists. How do you keep the dirt from running off, the plants from growing scraggly and the water from infiltrating into the building? It is not easy, but it is possible. If you are curious about the typical structure of such planted walls, please check out the Biotecture website, for instance.
What are the benefits of living wall systems? For dense urban environments, processing of air pollutants and additional oxygenation alone would be enough, but add to this reduction in storm water runoff, heat island effect improvement (the living walls reflect only 20% of the absorbed heat), great insulating qualities, (especially related to heat loss due to convection) and overall air quality improvement and you got a winning combination.
For a scaled down, approachable and eminently residential version of the living wall system Meet Wolly, the “grow your plant in a pocket” wall mat.
These systems can be installed on any structurally sound wall and the type of plantings available is surprisingly broad. There you have it: if you run low on gardening space, please fill free to start planting the walls.