It’s a hot summer day in the city. Intense sunlight is turning sidewalks into giant frying pans, and you can feel the heat through the soles of your shoes. The air is so thick lines morph into waves and reality into hazy tones of beiges and browns. You turn a corner, and suddenly the temperature cools. You’re greeted by a breeze, a gentle rustling noise, and birds signing. Suddenly the sidewalk no longer feels like an inhospitable waste land, it feels warm – but not uncomfortably so. You look up and see plants covering an entire building in front of you. They are luscious shades of green, sprinkled with flowers, gently rocking in the wind. Your mind clears, all the stresses of the week fade from memory and the noise of the city dims until all that exists in the world is you, the green wall and the singing birds. This urban oasis has been designed by a landscape architect to illicit this very moment. These are the kinds of experiences we seek to create through design – oases in the concrete jungle. One of the many different ways we can achieve this is through the creation of vertical gardens.
The history of vertical gardening is steeped in traditions of myth, beginning in the mysterious Garden Of Babylon (said to have existed around 3000 BCE). Since then, vertical gardens have continued to morph and evolve through time. In 2015, more than 600,000 square feet of green walls were installed in North America alone (GRHC, 2016).
Vertical gardens offer many benefits including aesthetic improvement, as well as reduction of the Urban Heat Island Effect, reduction of heating and cooling costs in buildings, pollution and dust control, absorption of stormwater runoff, noise reduction and refraction, biophilia (the idea that people are drawn to the natural world and that it makes us feel good), marketing, and can also be used for discreet integration of native habitats in cities and food production.
The most common types of vertical gardens are soil bearing systems and soil free (hydroponic) systems. Soil bearing systems include traditional methods involving planted pots or planting beds in the ground, while hydroponic gardens grow in water instead of soil. Some distributors for vertical gardens include Nedlaw, Green Over Grey, Green Screen , and G Sky Plant Systems. TLA has used GreenScreen in the past and the product has lived up to our expectations of durability and ease of installation. One of our GreenScreen projects can be seen at 2901 Bayview Avenue in Toronto.
Green Roofs For Healthy Cities, (2016). “Inaugural Green Wall Market Survey Report”. http://greenroofs.org/index.php/resources/green-wall-industry-survey
Blanc, P. (2008). The Vertical Garden from Nature to the City. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.
Beatley, T. (2011). Biophilic Cities. Washington: Island Press.
Darlington, A. (1981). Ecology of Walls. London: Butler & Tanner Ltd.
Despommier, D. (2010). The Vertical Farm. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Larson, D., Matthes, U., Kelly, P. (2000). Cliff Ecology: Pattern and Process in Cliff Ecosystems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Urben-Imbeault, T. (2015). Vertical Gardening in a Northern City; Speculations for Winnipeg (master’s thesis) Retrieved from University of Manitoba mspace. http://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/handle/1993/30769
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