Green Walls – Gardening for Every Space

Some of the first homes built by man were the ultimate in eco-friendly buildings. Simple wood or stone walls, with glass or open holes to let in light, but most efficient and easy to upkeep of all –  a roof made of live grass. Watered by the rain and fed by the sun, these roof coverings lasted as long as the building, attracting wild life and providing oxygen and clean air all the time they were being used.

Sod roofs, as they were known, were replaced with wood, metal then tar based products as they were considered superior, but life has a habit of coming full circle and once again, sod roofs are becoming popular again; only now they are known as living roofs. This living technology not only allows plants to be grown on roofs, but also on walls. Now anyone can have a garden – a vertical one.

George Irwin one of the first proponents of living walls struck on the idea when he was hiking around his home and saw plants growing vertically up cliffs and rocks with little or no growing medium. Mother Nature provided the pattern, and after some trial and error George found a way to emulate her, and the basis of the green wall was born.

Green walls are a great innovation as the plants that grow add a layer of insulation that regulates the heat of the building, keeping it warm or cool as needed. It provides clean air around the home with plenty of oxygen, and helps with the humidity. Not only does it provide the right environment to live in, it can also be trained to grow crops on the wall like herbs and other edible plants with very little looking after.

There are two types of green walls, one that adds a layer of material to the wall that allows the plants to seed and grow. Green facades are often a trellis like structure containing material such as felt, cocoa husk or mineral and rock wool. These structures are hung against the wall, or at an angle and rigged with their own irrigation system to keep them well fed and growing healthily.

A living wall is the same principle, but the growing mat is in a pocket on the wall rather than a separate structure. Each manufacturer has its own way of designing the wall and what material is used inside it, and the way the irrigation system keeps the wall alive. Living wall and green facades are still in their infancy so the way they are made and what they are made of is still a closely guarded secret.

Being able to use your wall space to produce oxygen and grow your own food is a wonderful green idea and makes it easy to help the health of the planet. You don’t have to cover your whole home with plants, but you can bring nature into your home and help keep the planet green.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!