Plants on the inside and outside of buildings offer numerous benefits to people and the environment.
We like to talk about getting back to nature, but when it comes right down to it, most people don’t spend enough time in the green. The average American spends upwards of 93 percent of their life inside — working, cooking, cleaning, and staying home instead of being outdoors. We spend so much time inside that biophilia, or a love of nature, is starting to be considered a rare trait.
The first vertical garden was patented in 1938 by a man named Stanley Hart White. He created a building designed with surfaces for growing vegetation. Now, the vertical garden trend has become all the rage among plant lovers — for several good reasons.
We, quite literally, don’t get out enough. We’re not talking about getting together with friends or going on a date. We spend too much time indoors and not enough time in nature. A lot of that is due to how busy our lives are — we work anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day, and still have to find time to spend with friends, family and loved ones. If we’re lucky, we’ve got some hobbies in there, too. It’s hard to make time to simply enjoy nature. Fortunately, architects and interior designers are starting to bring nature to us.
Biophilic design is the practice of bringing nature indoors, using plants, animals, water, and natural sunlight to bring the great outdoors into your home or workplace. That doesn’t mean you need to turn your home into a greenhouse, though. One of the benefits of vertical gardening is that it doesn’t take up much floor space. Vertical gardens make great accent walls for homes, balconies, and offices. In addition to their design appeal, they can make your space a bit more biophilic.
Benefits of Vertical Gardening
Planting a garden in a crowded city isn’t easy. There isn’t a lot of available real estate that can be tilled up and planted because most of it is dedicated to residential buildings or businesses. However, there are a number of benefits to gardening in the city that are too important to overlook, including:
- Cooler Cities: Most of our cities are built of steel and concrete — both of which absorb and retain heat, making them hotter than they need to be. Green construction helps reduce heat both outside and inside the buildings.
- Cleaner Air: Air pollution is a big problem in crowded cities. Vertical gardens help offset the carbon dioxide generated by cars and other heavy equipment.
- Natural Soundproofing: Cities are noisy, and soundproofing is bulky and expensive. Vertical gardens act as natural soundproofing to help reduce noises by blocking high-frequency sounds. Combine this with the vertical structure’s ability to reduce low-frequency sounds and it’s a win-win.
- Cleaner Rainwater: Rainwater and runoff can be a big problem. Vertical gardens act as a natural filter for water.
- Improved Mental Health: Being around nature has been shown to speed recovery times for patients, improve focus for children with ADHD and improve employee morale.
- Local Produce: Depending on what is planted in the vertical garden, it can be used to provide free or low-cost local produce to residents.
Vertical Garden Success Stories
Vertical gardens are a new and growing trend, but there are already some success stories we can take a look at.
The Oasis Hotel in Singapore might look like an ordinary hotel from the outside, but it is actually designed to be a giant vertical garden. The exterior of the building is home to a variety of plants. The red paint on the building provides a sharp and beautiful contrast, and the interior also features a number of different plants.
The Santalaia Building in Bogota, Colombia, is an apartment complex whose exterior is covered in green plants. There are more than 85,000 plants that cover the complex, which is enough to generate oxygen for 3,100 people every year, making it the largest vertical garden in the world.
Le Mur Vegetal in Paris is the brainchild of designer Patrick Blanc and covers the side of a building in the City of Love. The majority of this design is made of mosses and other air plants. They don’t need soil to survive and thrive, but still produce oxygen and remove toxins from the air.
Even the United States has a few vertical gardens set up, though nothing like the scale we’ve seen from other countries. The Hanging Desert Garden in New Mexico is a vertical medicinal herb garden.
Vertical gardens are the wave of the future. Not only can they make our cities healthier, but they also look pretty amazing, too.