As Green Walls become more commonly used and visible, the public’s reaction has been quite gratifying. Our first major project was the Gathering Place wall in Sparrow Hospital in 2016. At 14’ tall and over 20’ wide, the visual impact is undeniable. At this height, a scissor lift for access is a requirement, and grooming and pruning is done every 14 days. Our focus is on vibrant color and plant health.
This installation has built-in irrigation and drainage, with a system allowing us to inject fertilizer through the watering system. Our technicians must constantly evaluate plant growth and fullness. With over 1,200 plants in the design, there is a protocol for rotating fresh plants in, while maintaining design integrity. The 4” pot size allows a great deal of design flexibility when planning the initial installation of living art, including the use of curves. The small plants are tilted out to face the observer, giving an immediate “wow” factor.
A wonderful system that can be used in Michigan indoors or out is called Live Wall. Based in Spring Lake, the Live Wall team has designed a high-quality mounting system, using decorative bins and inserts that allow the plants to be rooted in pairs in an insert. This makes plant changes simple and quick. The plants display upright, and vines then grow over to spill down.
Because the bins allow a 6” plant to root into a larger soil mass, plants live longer and become larger in this system, though pruning does become a near constant activity.
We have plants under our care in this system at Mill Steel in Grand Rapids, and Klavon’s Pizzeria and Pub in Mason, and we installed an exterior system for the state of Michigan for Constitution Hall several years ago. Our Live Roof on our grow pot exchange facility is a product of this same organization.
Another versatile system which we have used multiple times is the Next Gen system by the ASI Group. This relatively inexpensive system is modular, using backer grids and trays, and the plants remain in 6” grow-pots in this application. Small portrait size displays for offices and lobbies are easily designed in this system.
There are also systems where cuttings are rooted into batting, systems of wheeled room dividers, and even systems designed for growing food or herbs on patios. Vertical plantings are experiencing an explosion of interest and innovation.
For each system, there are three keys for success. Supplemental lighting mounted above the wall system, either from the wall or ideally from the ceiling, insures adequate light from a source directly above the plants. Plants must be positioned at a height safely reached by an 8’ ladder, or a scissor lift must be available for service every 14 days. Operators must be safety certified and aware of their surroundings at all times. The third key is a commitment to professional care. Even with an irrigation system, insects and diseases must be scouted and treated, fertilization planned and constant pruning maintained.
We are currently working on four projects where we have designed and specified a wall, and the proposal has been accepted. We have two more designs in process where a living green wall will be the focal point of a new building lobby or waiting area.
Pricing generally ranges from $150 to $250 per square foot, installed and planted. Is there a green wall in your future plans? We can visit your existing building or look at the plans for your new space, and advise on what systems you should consider for your application. We would love to assist you in greening your vertical space.