What is a living wall and why should you have one installed?

what is a living wall

What is a living wall? You’ve probably heard of them and know they’re to do with plants. But what exactly are living walls, and why should you have one installed in your home? Read on to learn all about these amazing installations.

Firstly, what is a living wall? Well, put simply, it’s a plant-covered wall – and they look wonderful, so lush and verdant. You can install them inside or outside your home, but they’re beautifully striking wherever they are. So read on to find out more about them…

Why have a living wall?

Matt Lindsay, general manager at Growing Revolution, says: “Aside from being a fantastic decorative choice, a living wall is a great way to better connect with nature. Vertical gardening allows people to fill even the most unusual of spaces with greenery and reap all the many benefits plants have to offer. Our PlantBox troughs are stackable, allowing vertical gardeners to transform any plain wall into a living masterpiece, no matter the size. Our troughs are 12cm deep allowing green-fingers to get creative and fill them with a huge range of foliage plants, perennials, annual flowering plants, vegetables, herbs and salad crops.”

In addition, living walls promote biodiversity. They also make the air you breathe purer, reduce the ambient temperature and regulate the standard temperature. In scientific studies, plants have been proven to improve your mood and reduce stress, so imagine what a whole wall of them could do! In summer, they cool down the house as they absorb sunlight. They also absorb noise, making your environment quieter – a definite win.

what is a living wall
@theedwardianrenovation installed a living wall from Growing Revolution.

Why not install a PlantBox?

“We believe that green space should be accessible to everyone. So our PlantBox product has been cleverly designed to do just that,” says Matt from Growing Revolution. “All anyone needs to get started is a wall! Maintenance of your living wall will depend greatly on what is growing and how thirsty your plants are. Some hardy plants will need very little attention. Others might be a bit fussier. With ease in mind, we developed a unique watering system that makes having a living wall even simpler. Each planting trough has a 1.8 litre water reservoir, which is typically about enough for one or two weeks’ worth of water. The reservoir and wicking-felt means that plants take up water as they need it, so you don’t need to worry about over-watering either.

More from Growing Revolution

indoor vertical plant installation
The front view of @theedwardianrenovation‘s installation from Growing Revolution – so stunning.

“The versatility of the installation is what our customers love the most,” Matt adds. “From bringing a shady spot in the garden to life, to putting a pillar in the kitchen to good use by growing herbs and salad, a living wall is a great way to transform a space with purpose.”

herb planters
Not only can you grow plants, but they can be edible too, as with this herb wall from Growing Revolution.

Where should living walls be placed?

It’s a good idea to have your interior living wall installed as close to the outside as possible, so as to avoid damp and mould. Check the quality of your walls and flooring, and think about installing a wooden box fitted to the wall to prevent damp, mould and leakage problems.

Two Sleek Edison pendant lights, £35 each, from Industville, next to a living wall. Photo credit: @upstyleyourhome

What else do I need to consider?

The drainage system needs checking frequently. If it gets clogged, water can collect, creating damp issues, and the plants can start to rot. If they build up over time, mud, soil and dead leaves can block the draining system.

Think about the plants you’re going to have installed. If you choose low-cost, low-maintenance plants such as sedums, ferns and succulents, maintaining the wall will be far less hassle. In addition, if a few of these plants wilt, you can replace them at low cost.

A living wall behind a room in iSense Surprise flooring in Sky, £29.99 per sq m, Carpetright.

However, if you choose plants like premium perennials or larger, tropical plants, these are more expensive and need more maintenance. They probably won’t live for as long and will cost far more to replace. It’s entirely up to you – if you have your heart set on wonderful extravagant tropical plants, you may feel the cost is worth it.

The plants will need a trim regularly, especially indoor plants. Be aware that your wall will grow, but the direction in which it will grow and how much will depend on the amount of available sunlight, as it will grow towards the light. You may need additional lighting.

what is a living wall
A Growing Revolution PlantBox installed by @r_g3r.

Do you need to water your living wall?

Living walls need watering, but many of the larger installations have in-built irrigation systems, so you don’t need to worry about doing it yourself. However, if your installation is small, it makes sense to water it by hand. The frequency of watering your wall needs will depend on the plants you’ve chosen.

If you have an irrigation system, it’s not entirely hands-off. From time to time, you’ll still need to check that the filters, nozzles, valves and timers all work. Alternatively, you can pay for a maintenance technician to come round and check the system each month.

what is a living wall
A living wall behind artificial grass. Flooring: Whitby artificial grass, £19.99 per sq m, Carpetright.

Dobbies’ ‘instant colour’ living wall

Dobbies’ Garden Centres offer a living wall. They say it “adds vibrancy and life to an indoor space. It comes ready-made, full of gorgeous seasonal plants that have been expertly curated for maximum impact”. Dobbies’ Senior Houseplant Buyer Claire Bishop says, “Featuring a living wall in your lounge, sunroom, or any bright spot in your home is a guaranteed way to make an impact with your décor. It works well to make a statement in all types of spaces. If you’re looking to jazz up a neutral room or an empty wall, a living wall display is a brilliant way to inject some fun and personality.”

The living wall layers plants of different sizes and textures to create depth. It also utilises plants in colours that complement one another for a striking effect. Claire says: “I love the look of vertical planting for a pop of instant colour in a room. Our living wall includes some of my favourite seasonal plants that will suit a wide range of tastes. Some of the gorgeous plants included in Dobbies’ living wall for summer are Calatheas, Philodendron and Peace Lilies Spathiphyllum. Each of them features unique leaves that bring a different texture to the display. The living wall is a fantastic, creative way to bring some colour to your interiors. Just remember to position it in an area that gets plenty of light to ensure it thrives.”

Living wall from Dobbies Garden Centres.

It helps the environment

Dobbies’ living wall is good for biodiversity. The arrangement features native and pollinating plants for added ecological friendliness. 

Claire said: “The Devil’s Ivy Scindapsis and Adiantum, maiden hair fern that feature in Dobbies’ living wall are air purifiers. They will make your display extremely good for your home as well as creating a sense of wellbeing in your space. The plants included in the living wall will also have a positive effect on your home in summer by helping to keep your space cool. The density of the plants can actually reduce the ambient temperature of a room.” 

Ideal for houseplant beginners

Dobbies’ living wall is great for those who are new to gardening. This is because you won’t have to tend each plant individually – the wall has a self-watering system. Just fill it weekly and it will trickle water throughout the display – it’s so convenient. There’s even a gauge which will tell you if the built-in water reservoir is empty or full. This means you can avoid the common pitfall of under watering or over watering the plants. 

If you’re worried about maintaining a living wall, Claire says, “These displays may look intimidating but they’re perfect for all kinds of plant enthusiasts. Whether you’re a gardening pro, or are just beginning your houseplant journey, the low-maintenance aspect of a living wall makes it appealing to all plant parents, and the innovative watering system means you can spend less time worrying about maintenance and more time appreciating the instant colour it brings.”

Dobbies’ living wall comes in two sizes, with options that include 20 houseplants, priced at £299, and 40 houseplants, priced at £499. The arrangement of houseplants in the living wall features Calathea Adiantum maiden hair fern, Peace Lily Spathyiphyllum, Chamaedorea Parlour palm, Scindapsis Devil’s Ivy and Philodendron. However, this mix of varieties can vary depending on the time of year.

An alternative to indoor greenery

If you don’t fancy the idea, then how about installing Quiet Mark certified BuzziSpace BuzziMood biophilic acoustic panels instead? BuzziMood is green and pretty but also works as a natural air humidity indicator in any indoor setting. It also offers a low-maintenance alternative to traditional plants, with no watering required.  This acoustic wall solution utilises preserved reindeer moss as its primary material.

biophilic acoustic panels
BuzziSpace BuzziMood biophilic acoustic panels, certified by Quiet Mark.

And if you like the idea of hands-off low-maintenance plants but don’t want a living wall, there are also self-watering planters you can buy, including these cute cubes.

Cube Color 14 Lime Green, £10.22, Lechuza.

Want to read more? Then check out this feature on the six houseplants you’ll definitely be able to keep alive.

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