Interior Courtyard One, Northeast Library, Aventura, Florida / Landscape Architect & LEED Consulting: M. Chris Alonso / Photo: Lauren Robie



Basically, vertical green living walls take plants that usually grow horizontally and grow them on a vertical structure. There is very little soil profile or growing medium and the plants must be irrigated through misting, a drip system, or hydroponics. The green wall is a great way to incorporate plants where there is limited space to grow greenery –  inside or outside of a building, in interior courtyards or indoors. Green walls, or vertical gardening, have been around since 1935. Since its invention, green walls have become more daring and creative through innovative materials and irrigation methods.



Vertical green living walls provide an immediate visual impact that literally shifts your experience of the landscape. By rotating the planting structure from horizontal to vertical, new textures and color palettes emerge – providing the opportunity for viewers to discover innovative plantings.


Instead of waiting for an espaliered plant to grow on a wall over time, you can have a brand new statement piece right after installation. A large green wall is difficult to miss on a home, in a lobby, or any other vertical space. Green walls can be part of the building’s architecture or attach to a freestanding structure – given the right support system for plant growth, the possibilities are endless. You can even consider abstract shapes in the wall structure or create geometric forms out of the plant palette.


Living walls naturally cool their space. Live plants are better at absorbing heat than their hardscape counterparts.


The planting material naturally acts as a sound buffer in any space. If you want to tone down an echoing loft or shift to a more intimate sound, living walls can lend you a hand.


It is of the utmost importance to have a good contractor that is familiar with this type of work. Make sure to confirm your contractor’s qualifications early on by asking for prior examples of work.

One of the biggest challenges of constructing green walls is hiding all of the pipes and electrical work. It can hurt the aesthetics of a project when you see the pots and drip tubing of a wall’s structure. With green walls, you can create a look that is complete with full plants and a nice frame that cover all of the pipes. This is attainable if thought out in advance.

It’s most cost-effective to design and build a successful green wall with some foresight – by planning at the beginning stage of design. During this phase, discuss the type of system, budget, and design because it effects every other detail of the project: plumbing, electrical, weather-proofing, and more. If these are not thought out early on and built according to manufacturer’s specifications problems can occur. If considered at the beginning, one can innovate with aspects like water and drainage. These provide great opportunities for water collection and reuse, which lower your maintenance costs and the project’s environmental impact.

BUILDING SMART As designers at TOPO_GRAPHIC, we believe in educating the client beforehand about the complexities of cost and maintenance of green living walls. It is very important to work with a landscape architect that has experience designing these systems and who works with the other involved disciplines (like architecture, civil and electrical engineering).

Interior Courtyard Two, Northeast Library, Aventura, Florida / Landscape Architect & LEED Consulting: M. Chris Alonso / Photo: Bruce Robie

#landscapearchitecture #greenwalls #livingwalls #verticalwalls

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