When you live in a country that was (until a few years ago) a vast desert, you come to appreciate greenery and all its perks. The air feels cleaner, the weather doesn’t feel quite as dry and well, the view isn’t so bad either. Plants and trees are known to enhance the quality of life, foster health and well-being, and transport one back to nature. One landscape studio bringing a splash of green to concrete jungles all over the world is Green Studios. The Lebanon-based innovators are known for their gorgeous ‘living walls’ that not only promote green living but also add tons of aesthetic appeal.
What Are Living Walls?
More commonly known as vertical gardens, living walls are panels of plants attached to a wall in the interior or exterior of a building. Once the most sought-after component for architects vying to win design awards, living walls are now more popular among builders seeking to check off the ‘green’ factor in their projects. When it comes to how it all works, the technology varies based on the system installed. Most living walls are self-watering with hidden mechanisms that sustain the plants over time. Green Studios installations, for example, employ hydroponic technology which allows plants to grow without soil and supplies the roots with a nutrients solution. The result: lush green walls that adapt to most climate conditions.
‘Smart’ Living Walls for better green living
Established in 2010, Green Studios aims to “invite nature into concrete jungles and revitalize the hottest (in terms of weather) cities on earth.” Their mission is to make this technology accessible and help the environment by promoting green living, indoor and outdoor. They offer 5 types of living walls; one for indoor installations, and four types of outdoor fixtures for various climate conditions.
Following numerous successful projects in Beirut and the US, Green Studios was recognized for its contributions to the environment by Dubai Municipality in 2016. The landscape technology studio created a stunning 33-metre high living wall, covering the exterior of the Dubai Municipality head office building. The project marked Green Studios’ first foray into the UAE market. They have officially established a base here and we’re sure to see many more gorgeous creations by Green Studios around town.
Innovative technology used by Green Studios integrates a smart function in living walls. The panels fixed to the wall have a layer of hydroponic skin that irrigates the plants and is embedded with sensors. These sensors then allow owners to monitor the status of living walls, like moisture levels and maintenance schedules, via an app. Essentially, owners can ensure the health and longevity of their living walls from the palm of their hands.
What are the Benefits of Living Walls?
When fitted indoors, living walls decorate and bring a serene quality to the overall interior design. They are also a great space-saving hack, given that they are on walls and do not occupy any horizontal area. While décor is a great reason to consider installing a living wall, the actual ‘green’ benefit is that plants improve air quality. As you may recall from science class back in school, plants absorb pollutants and produce fresh, clear oxygen for those around (i.e. the good stuff). And a whole wall of plants is bound to improve air quality significantly.
A green wall mounted on the exterior of a building also has numerous perks as well. For one, it acts as an insulator, reducing the overall temperature of the property. Reiterating on the improved air quality, more greenery equals fewer pollutants in the air. We tend to forget that air pollution is a real problem in cities. Living walls on buildings act as natural air cleaners, thereby helping the environment. They also introduce an element of nature in urban architecture. A splash of green on buildings would definitely be a welcome change for most city-dwellers.
Adding Living Walls To Your Home
As tenants we have little say in the building materials used and whether living walls exist in our apartment buildings or villas in the UAE. And while an entire living wall may be too expensive, you can certainly create add green wall interior décor to spruce up your home. Potted, hanging or vertical, all plants need the same basic materials to flourish: a container, some soil and water. Living walls need just one additional system that lends them the name; a hanging system, to keep them ‘vertical’. These core elements can be arranged in different ways to give you the stunning ‘green’ element that you wish to add to your space.
If you’re wondering how to make a green wall feature for your home, one of the easiest ways is by growing a vertical garden in a frame. It’s a relatively simple setup using a wooden shadow box or pallet to pot the plants, plastic sheet followed by some chicken wire to hold them in place, soil and the plants themselves. Once you add all the elements, leave the frame out in sunlight so the plants can take root. This process takes about 4-10 weeks depending on your plant selection. And as soon as the plants are firmly rooted, you can hang your frame instantly adding a focal feature in your home. Water these plants by laying them flat in natural sunlight. You can then hang it again once the soil has completely absorbed the moisture.
Those residing in villas in the UAE can go for living walls, in their entirety. Depending on the surface area you are working with, you may require a more sophisticated solution and will need to consult a professional. Simple ways to cover an entire wall with plants include angled planters, which are easier to maintain. Or multiple wooden pallets following the same process used in the indoor frame solution. However, unless you automate the irrigation process, these take a lot more work and are generally high maintenance.
Things To Keep In Mind when installing a living wall yourself
If you are going the DIY route, make sure you keep these factors in mind when planning your living wall installation:
- Location: Where do you plan to install your green wall? For plants to flourish and stay healthy, it is vital to ensure that they get the right amount of natural light. This depends on the plant selection and whether they are suitable for sunny or shady areas. If you are planning to fit a living wall feature inside, make sure the area has sufficient natural light or other sources of light to make up for the lack of it.
- Plant Selection: When choosing plant species to go on your living wall, make sure you keep the location and lighting in mind. Apart from that, select plants that are suited to the climate conditions. Succulents are a great option for most climates and need to be watered only once in a while.
- Maintenance: Know what you’re signing up for and care for your plants accordingly. Smaller green wall interior setups like a frame will take up less time compared to an entire green wall. Decide on a watering system that works best for the size of your living features. If you plan to do it yourself, make sure you don’t overwater the plants. It is also important to trim and prune out overgrown or unhealthy foliage to help the plants grow and thrive.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of natural elements when decorating. Whether it’s a small plant or an entire wall of foliage, greenery has a way of improving the quality of life. And we can all agree that life is better in nature. But because you can’t always escape to a forest to soothe your worries, it’s best to bring a bit of nature to you instead.
If your 2018 resolution was to consciously start integrating green living in your life, then here are some ways to make your home décor more ‘green’ or check out ways to turn your Dubai home solar. While you’re at it, how about exploring these great tips to make your home healthy too? Greener and healthier, we think a few changes at home are in order!