What is a living wall?
A living wall is a display crafted from live plants that are fixed to either an internal or external wall. Many people may know living walls as green walls or plant walls.
Living walls come in almost any size, shape, or design imaginable and can support a range of interesting plants from ferns to grasses to house plants. In fact, external living walls can even support the growth of herbs, fruit, and veg.
Some of the most famous living wall projects from the past decade include the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, the CaixaForum in Madrid, and the Centro Commerciale Fiordaliso in Milan. The latter of which features a huge total of 44,000 plants. All of these projects have helped pave the way for living walls to become a staple in high-end commercial and residential interior design projects.
How do living walls work?
Most living walls are modular by design. These modules can host a range of different substrates (the surface material from which the plant grows and gains its nutrients). These substrates include man-made hydroponic substrates such as mineral wool or insulation or natural substrates such as soil.
The plants on a living wall are watered through the use of an irrigation system that is placed out of sight, beyond the wall. The irrigation system is then connected to an external water source. Usually, larger living walls hold a tank to help with the extra watering requirements. Smaller living walls on the other hand don’t usually require a tank to help with irrigation.
In terms of light, most living walls receive sufficient natural lighting. There are a few cases where internal living walls don’t receive sufficient sunlight. In these cases, artificial grow lights can help to support the growth and health of plants on a living wall. Most grow lights are capable of delivering full-spectrum light, just like sunlight.
Man-made substrates such as mineral wool can’t hold moisture, unlike soil. This means that the irrigation system is vital in delivering water and nutrients to plants on a hydroponic living wall. Soil, on the other hand, is not so dependent on irrigation systems. Plants surrounded by soil can survive for a short period of time, even if the irrigation system fails to work.
How does the design process for living walls work?
To start the design process, a site visit will first need to be arranged to evaluate the space and take correct measurements. Alternatively, you can provide images and measurements of your space. If you’re not sure which location would be best for a living wall, our experts are also on hand to help you decide.
At this point, our designers will be able to provide you with a mock-up design of what your living wall could look like. If you have any preferences on planting styles or have a design in mind our designers are more than happy to accommodate. Regardless of whether you’re interested in incorporating herbs into an external wall or air-purifying plants into an internal wall. We love pushing the boundaries of creativity to provide stunning results for our customers.
Are living walls only suitable for internal spaces?
Living walls are suitable for both internal and external spaces. In fact, introducing an external living wall is a brilliant way to connect your space more closely with nature. External walls come with a whole host of unique planting options, including the option to plant fruit and herbs on your wall. This is due to the vast quantity of light and water that external living walls have access to.
External living walls that use soil act as a haven for wildlife. Many external living wall projects succeed in attracting a range of wildlife from bees to insects. Living walls are also wind resistant up to 140 miles per hour and expand in extreme weather. Truly ensuring that the living wall is the perfect addition for any external space.
What are the benefits of introducing a living wall?
Despite their similarity in appearance internal and external living walls actually come with a completely different array of benefits. The main benefits that come from the installation of an external wall are economic and environmental. Firstly, external living walls are a great way to attract wildlife. External living walls also help provide nutrition, shelter, and nesting space for birds, bees, butterflies, and insects.
Beyond attracting wildlife – external living walls can even help increase the value of your building. Introducing a living wall is a great way to help achieve WELL certification which studies have linked to increased real estate value.
Internal walls on the other hand come with a host of physical and mental health benefits. Firstly, we can incorporate NASA air-purifying plants into the wall to help improve air quality. Since poor indoor air quality has been closely linked to sick building syndrome, this has the added benefit of reducing sick leave. On top of this, live plants also help trap dust which helps to remove symptoms of common allergies.
Secondly, the live plants that makeup living walls can help boost humidity. Poor humidity is closely linked to increased rates of dry cough, sore throat, and dry eye. Therefore, introducing plants can help alleviate these symptoms and help reduce sick leave.
On top of this, researchers have found living walls help reduce noise pollution through increased sound absorption. In fact, the European Commission found that the installation of a living wall reduces sound by up to 15 decibels (dB).
Finally, the live plants that help make up the wall help to reduce stress & anxiety by connecting your team more closely with nature. Researchers found that around 20 minutes of either sitting or walking amongst nature was enough to reduce stress.
What are my options if I don’t have room for a full-sized living wall?
Living pictures are a fantastic option for those with limited space. Much like living walls, living pictures can host almost any indoor plant available. All living pictures come with a water tank that holds between 4-6 weeks’ worth of water. Therefore, there is no electricity or pump required. Living pictures also host an indicator that notifies you when your water tank is nearing empty.
Our living pictures are available in four different sizes to ensure there is an option to suit every space. Aside from size, it is also possible to choose from a selection of frame colours. If you’d like to find out more about our living picture options then make sure to contact us today.
How do I maintain my living wall?
It can be hard enough just to look after one live plant. Therefore, the idea of watering hundreds of plants that form a giant structure may seem near impossible. Luckily, as discussed above, our living walls feature an irrigation system connected to an external source which makes watering a fairly simple process.
Besides water, living walls also require light. Different plants grow at different levels of light so living walls are designed bespoke based on the lighting conditions in the space.
Whilst watering and lighting may seem simple, there are still a few plant care challenges to contend with. A thorough inspection for foliage that is dead or damaged and quick replacement is important to ensure that your living wall always looks pristine. More importantly, a thorough inspection for diseased plants or pests can save you thousands of pounds in replacement plant costs. Especially if you catch the spread of disease or pests early. On top of this pruning, weeding and dusting are just some of the extra steps required to ensure your living wall stays in good condition.
Alternatively, our plant care experts can take care of maintenance for you. Saving you thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours in the process.
I like the idea of a living wall but don’t want to worry about plant care, what are my options?
If you’re interested in introducing a living wall but don’t want the hassle of plant care then we can help. Firstly, we have our own team of experts on hand who can come to your site and maintain your living wall for you.
Secondly, we also supply artificial living walls. Designed for both internal and external spaces, an artificial living wall provides a totally maintenance-free alternative to living walls. Although an artificial living wall doesn’t come with the same physical benefits they look just as stunning and can have similar mental health benefits.
Finally, we also supply preserved walls. Plant preservation is a technique that allows the plant to maintain its original appearance. The happy middle ground between a living and artificial living wall, our preserved walls comes with almost all of the benefits of live and artificial. Their leaves are 100% natural and plastic-free – just like live plants. Equally, they don’t require any care or sunlight – just like artificial plants.
How long do living walls last?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to put a specific timeframe on how long living walls last. As they are a fairly new innovation, there aren’t many case studies showcasing their potential longevity. The length of how long your living wall will last for depends on a huge variety of factors.
If you or your maintenance contractor provider sufficient care for both the plants on the wall and the wall itself is properly then many living walls can last for over a decade.
How do I make my living wall project as sustainable as possible?
To improve the sustainability of your living wall – you can use harvested rainwater from the roof of your building where possible to water your living wall. Additionally, you can also use natural soil as the substrate. Soil is extremely efficient when it comes to holding moisture. Therefore, helping to reduce the overall water usage of your living wall.
Proper maintenance of your wall in general also contributes to its sustainability. One of the biggest points of waste in living wall projects is the waste of plants that die from poor care. Therefore, ensuring you have proper plant care in place is crucial to reducing waste.
Besides watering and maintenance, choosing a living wall rather than an artificial living wall is a great way to reduce your overall plastic consumption. Equally, on a small scale – live plants help absorb CO2 and pump out oxygen. Once again improving the sustainability of your wall.
Why should I choose Exubia for my living wall?
- Creativity: Our expert designers push the boundaries of creativity to deliver living walls that turn heads.
- Sustainability: We are committed to making every part of our supply chain more sustainable. Whether it’s the water & energy used to grow the plants, the substrate used in your living wall, or the vehicle your wall is delivered in.
- Experience: We’ve delivered hundreds of living wall projects across the U.K. If you choose Exubia, you can rest easy knowing that you’re in the hands of experts.
- Cost: We are experts when it comes to delivering our clients the most value for their budget.
- Customer Care: We pride ourselves on our commitment to making office living wall projects easy, hassle-free, and enjoyable.