Living Walls Look Great, But What About Upkeep?

Not only effective in reducing energy use, a vertically scaled garden, or living wall injects a shot of green into gray urban streetscapes. Last week we wrote about North America’s largest largest living wall, designed by Kari Katzander of Mingo Design with the help of of Green Living™ Technologies. But there are plenty of others.


Posh London hotel The Athenaeum has gotten in on the green action with an exterior mosaic of live plants designed by botanist Patrick Blanc. Wrapping around the hotel’s facade, the vertical garden is ten stories high and covers nearly 2,800 square feet of space.


On a smaller scale, Brooklyn-based Mosstika designs a portable living wall, designed with slats that form an image peeking out through the greenery. Most often constructed with moss, as the name suggests, the designer’s newest piece integrates a wood frame and irrigation system to create a living wall hosting green succulent plants.


Naturally, there’s a DIY version. Ustatic’s Living Wall Clock grows plant life inside the home. The concept clock combines a vertical plane of grass in a stainless steel and glass frame, kept nice and tidy when trimmed by the clock hands’ sharp edges. Rather brilliant.


Sure, it all looks good. But what about maintenance? Any living wall won’t thrive without TLC. Britain’s first living wall, which shaded the front facade of a children’s center in northern London, died this summer three years after it was built (using £100,000 of taxpayer money). Designers hip to the incident speculate that the fallout could threaten the prospects of living walls. Maybe next time they’ll get a gardener in there to do some watering, or find heartier plants. There’s nothing more unsightly than looking at a bunch of dead plants.