Vertical gardens are a growing design trend in the construction industry. This has been fuelled by greater consideration of sustainability and the environmental impacts of construction projects.
We spoke with Travis Smith, Vertical Garden Specialist for Vertical Gardens Australia, a business that sells pre-built and custom-built vertical gardens for residential and commercial projects, on the impacts of vertical gardens and a more sustainable approach to contemporary construction projects.
The Growth of Vertical Gardens
Vertical gardens, also known as green walls, are a type of structure that allows for plants to grow in urban spaces. The trend is reinventing how residential and commercial construction projects are being developed, with demand steadily increasing over the last decade.
“We believe that this is because of a change in the mindset of the general population towards a sustainable and greener future,” says Smith.
The popularity of vertical gardens can further be attributed to their design—plants can grow on walls, fences or any free-standing structure. Vertical gardens allow for plants to fit into any kind of space no matter how small, such as kitchen splashbacks, office boardrooms, and bathrooms.
“Vertical Gardens allow for gardens to fit into many spaces where it would otherwise be impossible to grow plants,” says Smith.
Environmental Benefits of Vertical Gardens
Vertical gardens offer numerous sustainability benefits which contribute to their popularity in the construction industry. Research has demonstrated how indoor plants and green walls can increase the quality of the environment.
“The University of Technology Sydney has been studying the link between indoor plants and environmental quality for more than two decades, with team leader Dr. Fraser Torpy stating some 206 pot plants were needed to remove enough carbon dioxide from a large office to have a beneficial impact on air quality. However, we’ve found just five square metres of a green wall with enough light will remove the same amount of carbon dioxide from the air,” says Smith.
Green walls can also reduce the need for air conditioning and other technology designed for climate control, such as heaters, thus reducing energy costs in the long run and providing further environmental and sustainability benefits.
Vertical gardens also allow for contact with plants inside urban spaces, which was usually impossible for people. However, human interaction with nature is said to have considerable benefits on personal wellbeing and contributes to reducing stress levels.
Key Considerations for Construction Businesses
The growth of vertical gardens is driving more and more construction companies to install vertical gardens on their projects. There are several things construction companies should take into account before introducing vertical gardens into their projects.
Construction companies can install vertical gardens that can cater to any type of space, regardless of access to sunlight, water and electricity.
First of all, the orientation of the wall needs to be established. That way, you’ll be able to determine how much sunlight the garden would be receiving. What is more, the type of wall needs to be considered, whether it is a fence or a brick wall, for example, and whether there is access to water and electricity for the plants.
Alternatively, construction companies can install vertical gardens that can cater to any type of space, regardless of access to sunlight, water and electricity.
“At Vertical Gardens Australia, we have plants that can suit any kind of space. We separate our plants into four main varieties depending on the area and orientation to ensure the plants live long healthy lives,” Smith says.
There are numerous examples of vertical gardens that fit in well into both residential and commercial construction projects while simultaneously providing environmental and sustainability benefits, for instance, the Saint Hotel in St Kilda and the Cheltenham Manor residential aged care in Melbourne. These two are two examples of vertical gardens that construction companies can look to for inspiration when designing their own projects to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.