Every month should be Earth Month.

As more people realize how sacred the environment truly is, some are choosing to bring nature into their homes with aesthetically pleasing living green walls or vertical gardens that add wellness and beauty while energizing interior and exterior spaces.  

The trend towards greening built environments and transforming rooms or outdoor areas with lush accent walls made of plants or artistic living murals is growing. Since plants are natural air purifiers as well as mood, creativity, and productivity boosters, the benefits of having a living wall at home or in a workspace are obvious.

“Green walls have been designed in many forms — with soil, hydroponics (lacking soil), air plants, or some combination — to create their green designs,” says Stevie Famulari, a green design specialist and professor in the department of urban horticulture and design at Farmingdale State College. “Living walls, living murals, or living sculptures can be created for any site.”  

On Long Island, green walls are usually installed in public spaces. But homeowners can also transform patios or backyards into relaxing retreats with a unique vertical greenscape that fuses elegant form with amazing function.

The New York City-based green design experts at Urbanstrong have been creating healthy, sustainable and captivating spaces everywhere, and are available for home projects locally. Their team built an eye-catching living wall at 1 Third Avenue in Mineola in the lobby of a luxury apartment building.

Famulari offers living design ideas that anyone can use in her new book due out later this year, Green Up!  Sustainable Design Solutions for Healthier Work and Living Environments.

“In design, what I enjoy is telling a changing story in the works, based on the site: its materials, lighting, people, scale, use, etc,” she says. “The story is also based on time and change. Plants show time and change in unexpected, beautiful ways, creating moments of sheer amazement and beauty that are wondrous.”

For exterior design, Famulari recommends using plants that are appropriate for the light, drainage, and location. The same applies for interiors, with just a different set of plants.  

“The applications are endless: small/large scale; flat and 3-D; low/high light, natural sunlight, artificial light; office, house, apartments; exteriors…everything is possible,” she adds. “Be creative and the green design solutions will come.”

Maintenance is taken into account when developing the design.

“Early maintenance — the first year — is the most extensive,” she says. “The second year is easier and less. And by the third year, usually everything is figured out and it is merely yearly maintenance of the pumps, lights, structure and plants.”

With lots of TLC most green walls can last indefinitely. Famulari points out that some of her early designs are still growing today.  

“For exterior walls, though some plants may be flowering or leafing seasonally, they are still designed to last for an extended amount of years,” she says.

“Plants allow healing, mental soothing, and easier breathing,” she continues. “And something to grow in front of you with visible change in a time frame. That reminds us that all things change and heal and can be wondrous.”

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