What is a living wall?
A living wall is a system of vegetation attached to a wall – generally to the wall of a structure, either interior or exterior. In contrast to vines that move across the surface of walls, plants in a living wall are rooted directly into the medium attached to the wall. This method prevents damage to paint, stucco, siding and any other exterior surfaces on the wall and also allows the flexibility to plant various species in the same vertical space.
How does HH’s system differ from traditional systems?
All Habitat Horticulture living wall systems share the following design characteristics that make them unique in the marketplace:
Weight & Depth
- Planting is not confined to a small, rigid, modular box like other living wall-in-a-box systems.
- Our systems can move around curves, arches and virtually any geometric shape
Even and Clean Irrigation System
- Our walls weigh approximately 3-5 times less than soil-based systems making installations possible on nearly any building structure
- Extremely compact, structurally only protruding off the wall 3 inches
- Our system evenly distributes water and nutrients throughout the growing medium.
- No dripping water or soil runoff outside the HH wall system to clean off the floor or wall
- The growing medium which the plants are rooted in will never decompose or have to be replaced, unlike soil systems
- Plants have the freedom to migrate and are not stuck permanently in one location
- Made from 100% recycled and recyclable materials
- Maintained with all natural and organic materials
Habitat Horticulture’s living wall system contrasts sharply with the heavy, messy modular soil-based systems in mass production today. Ours is a soil-less system in which the plants are rooted in a porous, mold-free, geo-textile material allowing for root migration throughout the wall. Plants are not constricted to a small square box as in most pre-planted panel systems; our system gives us the versatility to paint the wall with plants, creating a composition that has rhythm and flow. Many boxes on the market are filled with soil, coir or peat, which must be replaced as the substrate decomposes and plants become root-bound and nutrient deficient. Furthermore, irrigation of these systems is troublesome and uneven, as the peat and coir are unable to remoisten once dry. Our geo-textile medium allows for even water and nutrient distribution and complete control over all aspects of growth.
Another major difference is the weight. Our living wall systems are approximately 4lbs per planted square foot. Soil-based modular systems are about 3-4 times this weight, which may jeopardize the structural integrity of a building. These observations are from founder David Brenner’s personal experience and research while working with soil and peat-based vertical garden systems at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo.
How much maintenance is there?
Like any garden, the growth habit of the plants, size of the garden and the client’s expectations dictate the maintenance. However, our living walls systems can be set up for complete automation where the plants will thrive on just a quarterly maintenance regime. On the other hand, if a client prefers a more manicured look, we recommend our monthly maintenance package where we take care of all aspects of growth and aesthetics, keeping the wall looking immaculate throughout the year.
Habitat Horticulture is able to maintain all our living walls in the San Francisco Bay Area. For our living walls located outside the San Francisco Bay Area, Habitat Horticulture provides easy and extensive maintenance training to local landscapers and interior plant-scapers to ensure the wall looks as good if not better as it did when first installed.
What are the benefits of our living walls?
Habitat Horticulture is strongly dedicated to sustainable building and organic practices. Our goals are to save water, support thriving habitats and mitigate our carbon footprint while beautifying the world through plants.
Water is one of our most precious natural resources and we all have a part to play in conserving and protecting our limited supply of it. Habitat Horticulture conserves water through our recirculating hydroponic growing system, which enables us to use 75% less water than traditional soil-based systems. In areas like California and the Southwest, where water is often scarce and costly, this is a crucial step.
Habitat Horticulture is not only committed to preserving and enhancing our local ecosystems, but also to the worldwide effort to reduce the effects of climate change. We do everything within our means to reduce our carbon footprint from our building materials to our Bay Area bicycle maintenance crew. All of the building materials that make up our living walls are made from recycled and recyclable or bio-degradable materials that can be used in LEED certified applications.
Organic Maintenance Practices
Habitat Horticulture we pride ourselves on our organic approach to pest management, which is safe to pets, people and the environment. We employ an integrated approach to pest control through natural biological control methods and organic oils. All of our products, including our fertilizers, are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed and eco-friendly.
Habitat Horticulture strives to promote healthy environments, not only for humans, but for the countless organisms that are essential to a healthy ecosystem. Living walls create a connection between the urban and natural world, providing a habitat in which biodiversity can thrive. In an effort to preserve threatened organisms and endemic plant species, we make it a point to incorporate regional plant species whenever possible.
Click here to find out how living walls can help gain your building LEED credits.