City dwellers who spend their daily lives surrounded by a concrete and steel jungle often yearn for something that resembles nature and can bring them back to earth amidst their urban environment. This is where Habitat Horticulture Living Walls + Design decided to step in. The landscape architecture company’s core belief is that “plants provide essential nourishment and vitality to our environment and the well-being of our community” as well as “bring greenery into urban spaces and into the everyday lives of city inhabitants.”
Passionate about ethnobotany, the relationship between people and plants, HH Founder David Brenner set out to study Environmental Horticulture Sciences with an emphasis in landscape architecture and Psychology at California Polytechnic University as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. Bringing people closer to nature through these living landscapes, Brenner feels that not only is he providing beauty in peoples’ lives, but he is helping to save plants that are threatened or at risk of extinction at the same time.
The benefits of installing a living vertical wall in one’s home or business include: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing energy consumption and cost, promoting biodiversity and protecting native species. Health-wise, their living landscapes can help reduce stress and filter out harmful toxins in the air. The product also serves to use space efficiently – no need to take up precious floor space in order to add greenery when one can grow herbs, vegetables and ornamental plants on vertical wall space instead.
As opposed to a creeping vine that attaches itself along a wall and can damage stucco, siding or paint, a living wall is created when a variety of species are planted into a medium that is directly attached to the wall. The medium HH utilizes is a felt-like porous, geo-textile, mold-free material where plant roots are free to migrate throughout the system, “creating a composition that has rhythm and flow.”
The company makes environmental conservation a major priority in their business practices. To conserve water, their living wall projects use a recirculating hydroponic growing system, saving 75% of the water it would take to use a traditional soil-based system. Living wall building materials are all comprised of recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials that can be used for LEED certified applications.
Maintenance of the plants is organic as they apply an integrated pest management system which uses natural biological control methods and organic oils. All products and fertilizers applied are Organic Materials Review Institute listed. Regional plant species are incorporated into the living walls whenever possible in order to help preserve threatened native species.
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Lesley Lammers is a freelance sustainability consultant and journalist, focused on the intersection between the environment, food, social impact, human rights, health and entrepreneurship.