4 *Slightly* Complicated Steps for Installing Green Walls
July 27, 2017
Repurposed shipping containers are often linked to sustainability and green initiatives for businesses and homes. As environmentally conscious building methods become more popular, so do community features like rooftop gardens, hydroponic installations, and Green Walls. Also known as vertical gardens and living walls, a green wall is partially or completely covered in living greenery and plants. To keep the plants alive and well, the technique integrates a frame to hold soil or substrate and a water delivery system.
Green walls are not easy, or cheap to install. However, they offer a unique branding opportunity and serve functional purposes including heat insulation and providing fresh produce to serve at restaurants. Here are four *slightly* complicated steps to achieving a striking green wall in your space.
The first step is to decide what purpose the living wall will serve. The systems involved with creating a farm-to-table experience are different than those needed for aesthetics. For art pieces, hydroponic growing systems that use a drip system to cascade water down exposed roots is best. A system using planter boxes with probes that provide the roots with direct water access is more effective for larger plants including herbs and vegetables.
If you’re using a pre-existing space, most providers can retrofit the system for interior and exterior locations. In these cases, the entire system bolts to the walls and use rubber backing to protect the integrity of your space. No one wants to end a lease with a giant water stain on their walls and floors.
Though green walls can be put into existing buildings, the best-case scenario is to plan for the green wall during construction. This way, the vertical garden is recessed and acts more like a wall, instead of protruding out. And, when you work with an architect, you have more freedom in placement and mechanical options.
The most important element behind your plant choices will come down to the quality of light in your building. Do you have lots of windows and natural sunlight? Are you in an interior room with florescent lights? These considerations are important for having a green wall vs a brown one. Even in the presence of ample natural light, in most cases, the wall will need grow lights. Don’t worry. Lights that cast a white light are readily available, rather than choosing the typical blue or purple tint commonly found in greenhouses.
Regular maintenance and pest control checks a few times every year will be essential for retaining the quality of your wall. Most have built-in irrigation systems set on a timer. So, you don’t have to worry about constant care-taking. However, it is important to keep tabs on your system, particularly restaurant owners. Drooping plants need water, yellow spots may mean a fungus, and greasy or dusty plants mean you need to wash the leaves with a mild soap.
With careful planning, installing and maintaining your own green wall is only *slightly* complicated. How would you use a green wall in your shipping container space?