Homes and gardens

Jostling for green spaces

Installing green walls and vertical gardens are a great way to restore lost plant cover, says Anupama Mohanram

In today’s cramped urban cities, how do we ensure we replenish the vegetation that we mindlessly destroy to get us the built spaces we want? Considering our desire to own every inch of built space we can get our hands on, and the increased FSI offered by new regulations, current attempts at restoring our greenery seem to be in vain. What we can do is grow our gardens on roofs, walls and balconies. Here’s how:

Take your pick

There are two ways to get plants grow on walls — one method involves designing a ‘green’ or ‘living wall’ that involves considerable amount of technology and installation. As the plants are grown very close to each other, it is important that the right kind of species be chosen in the right grouping to avoid contamination due to diseases. Regular maintenance is required.

Another method is going in for a ‘green façade’, which is less expensive and relatively easier to maintain. The soil only is placed at the base of the wall (either in a planter or on the ground) and climbing plants are set up on the face of the wall, either directly or on a trellis. In tall buildings, planters at every floor can provide intermediate growing media for planting.


However, being conscious of today’s water situation, we need to ensure such a system requires minimal water use. A well-designed irrigation system is a must and one should consider re-using treated grey water for irrigation and also look at ensuring that overflow water is managed well by a gutter/piping system. This ensures percolation into the ground or to other means of collection.

The plumbing system for the above should be integrated into the design and planned as part of the façade elevation. Control of watering could be manual or automatic based on sensors to ensure minimal wastage. Access to the planters especially in high rise buildings will also need to be planned for occasional maintenance. Lightweight soil will also ensure minimal load on the building as well as retain moisture for longer.

The right plants

Another way to ensure water conservation is to choose the right kind of plants. Native, fast growing species such as devil’s ivy, commonly known as ‘money plant’, bougainvillea (it requires limited watering as it grows), star jasmine and blue morning glory.

For vertical walls, climbing plants are not the only options. With a little planning, virtually anything can be grown vertically.

The author is the founder of Green Evolution, a sustainable architecture firm

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 8:56:10 PM |

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