Living walls: a natural way to brighten up your life

Living walls: a natural way to brighten up your life

If you hate to be parted from plant life, or you don't have any outside space but would like some greenery in your life, then why not think about having a green wall in your home?

By Emily Georgiou
Plants indoors create a healthy environment

Bringing the outdoors in.. green or living walls are fairly common in US homes, but we're only just getting in on the act here in the UK. A green wall is a good way to improve your air quality ..and if you're worried about bees buzzing around in your sitting room once the weather warms up, well the key is use green leafy plants, not flowering ones. Pictured above: a yellow sofa certainly makes a good contrast against a green wall... photograph by Garry Belinsky Photography

Mmm, now what can you put on a wall to make it look delightful and improve the air you breathe? The answer is of course a green or living wall. These vertical gardens are a boon to the nature-deprived ...and are ideal if you live somewhere with a dearth of shelves.
The installation of lush vertical gardens is well-established on the exterior of commercial buildings, and you do now find them in plenty of US homes. But we're not so au fait with them in the UK, which is a pity because they offer many benefits. They can look stylish and interesting, they can help reduce overall temperature in hot weather and they're good for improving air quality in the home -  according to NASA, indoor plants do this by absorbing environmental toxins and increasing healthy oxygen levels.
Svoya Studio in Ukraine incorporated living walls into this apartment
Forget large mirrors or paintings, use Woolly Pockets and make plants your main artwork in the sitting room. From £13.99
A white wool looks fantastic with some bright green foliage in Woolly Pockets
John Lewis stocks Urbio Living Wall modular units, from £15. /
Freestanding wooden vertical wall for the home by Williams Sonoma, which ships worldwide. Around £378
How about a coffee table with an integral garden.. Living Table by Habitat Horticulture, around $850
What is a living wall?
As the name suggests, it's a wall-mounted 'garden' full of luscious foliage. A vertical garden is a great way to make good use of a bare wall while introducing some greenery into your life.
You can have systems based on panels or trays, and obviously they have integral water reservoirs so your plants don't die of thirst. If you want a large wall covered with plants, and you have the budget, you might want to use a specialist company such as Bright Green, Mobilane or Green Walls. Bright Green offers real plant walls, faux foliage (not eco, but ideal if you want an easy life with no plant maintenance) and preserved moss walls.
Alternatively build up your own wall using individual modular planters such as Woolly Pocket's Living Wall self-watering planters, which are made from BPA-free recycled polypropylene and are fully recyclable (£22.49 per planter which comes with water container and fixings.)
Urbio is another US modular green wall system for the home and you can now buy units in John Lewis; so get creative and build up in the design you want. Urbio units from £15.
Williams Sonoma is a US company that offers an excellent freestanding wooden vertical living wall unit, which costs around £370 ex shipping. The company does ship to the UK so it's worth taking a look online.
Woolly Pockets offer the most affordable way to build up an indoor green wall
A plant painting.. these plants live in a frame and hang on the wall.. by Mobilane
A wooden table with a fissure for growing grass. By Emily Wettstein, around $2,500
Indoor green wall by Bright Green. POA
Plant a picture
Another interesting idea - though it's fairly pricey - is a living picture that bridges the gap between art and plant. Mobilane has introduced a range of interior green ‘pictures’ which come in a frame and contain plants attached to a vertical substrate so it looks like a painting. The frame contains a water reservoir to keep maintenance to a minimum. Around £700.
Best plants for the job
The design, installation and maintenance of a living wall are important factors to consider if you're warming to the idea of a green wall or two in the house. And once you have decided on your container system, you have to choose your plants.
You need to find out which plants will work in your home and various factors will dicate the species - for example is your wall hit by the sun, or is it cool and shaded? The Royal Horticultural Society says hardy foliage is needed for indoor green walls, and ferns, perennials, and arums can be used. That said it's best to nip along to your local garden centre and ask for their recommendations.
You can also bring plants indoors via the table route. Emily Wettstein has designed an intriguing table with a planter channel running through the middle. And Habitat Horticulture has designed a charming coffee table that looks like a garden under the glass top.
So if you've not thought about any more than having the odd pot plant in your home, why not be greener and more adventurous and cover a wall or two with foliage. Plants can increase wellbeing, they produce oxygen, absorb toxins..and they look lovely.