Green Walls – Fab or Fad?

The phenomena of ‘Green Walls’ or ‘Living Walls’ has proliferated recently. You may have seen one in West London at The Athenaum Hotel, at the Westfield Shopping Centre or even on private houses. They are particularly beloved or Architects, Developers and Corporations seeking ‘green credentials’.

Call me a kill-joy, but this is not a seriously sustainable or ecological approach to greening our cities – in fact it’s a perfect example of ‘green-wash’.  Firstly, manufacturing and installing the system itself consumes energy and entails large quantities of synthetic materials, not to mention the cost and resources consumed by the constant irrigation-fed fertilizers and the necessary maintenance in plant care, pruning and replacement. Consider this description:

The green wall is supported by a trellis. “A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies.”

Then consider the costs and resources consumed when it all goes pear shaped, as in this fine example three years after installation:



Of course the glossy photos taken shortly after installation looked great in the publicity……..

What’s wrong with the good old approach of planting a climbing plant IN THE GROUND?  Keep It Simple! Requires:

  • 1 man with spade
  • 1 Plant, say £10 – £50.00
  • 1 Watering on first day, thereafter finds its own food and water.
  • Pruning annually or even less frequently.

To illustrate my point are pictures of the village square at Saignon,  in Provence, France.  For me, the loveliest village square in the world. Virtually every building is cloaked in creepers and roses. Planted in the ground. Not a drip-fed –synthetic-rooting-felt-pouch in sight ………






One Comment to “Green Walls – Fab or Fad?”

  1. says:

    How right you are about the ‘new’ green walls , nothing prettier than a wall of Virginia creeper at the height of Summer looks good in winter too