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Modular Greening Systems

High-tech greening systems are an alternative to classic facade greening. They are increasingly used in modern architecture, especially for expensive, high quality, and representative facades in southern Europe and Asia (e.g. Singapore). A pioneer in this style is the Frenchman Patrick Blanc with his "vertical gardens." The greenery there does not grow upwards from the ground or from pots, but sits on the facade in the form of planted modules. Such facade gardens are usually very expensive and maintenance-intensive; the plants must be replaced (in our latitudes) almost every winter. Alternatively, there are planting bags/pockets and similar suspension systems on the market, which make this replacement of plants easier. 

"Living Wall" greening system on a shopping centre: "Galeries Lafayette," Berlin
"Living Wall" greening system on a shopping centre: "Galeries Lafayette," Berlin

Guiding Principles

For such greening concepts, two guiding principles are combined. The first is the fact that some plants have the ability of growing on stone with very little topsoil. This phenomenon is then applied to facades and fronts of houses. The second guiding impulse was to suspend plant pots/baskets, as often seen in the streets of southern Europe, and hang them tightly next to and on top of each other to create a specific but also and broad-areal effects. Thus, modular green systems were created.

Technical Implementation

The plants grow in special pots, plant pockets, or substrate boards/panels freely into space. Irrigation equipment, together with pumping and measuring instruments, are usually attached there. Also an automatic supply of fertilisers is often integrated. Climbing supports are usually not necessary with such projects. In 2013/2014, a pilot project was carried out on a noise barrier at the Palmengarten in Frankfurt Germany, where four different greening systems of 12 sq.m each were tested. The results could now be trend-setting for further wall gardens in Germany.

"Vertical Garden" from Patrick Blanc in Paris / France
"Vertical Garden" from Patrick Blanc

Alternative Greening Systems

Low-cost solutions include 'metre-long hedges' (a 'hedge wall'), which is also suitable for greening facades or for suspended (hanging) systems with pots and plant pockets, which are watered manually and removed in winter. A further variant is the use of self-climbers in wall areas demarcated by recesses or protrusions-- so, naturally occurring 'niches' -- resulting in defined surface-area growth and a lower-maintenance wall garden. removed during the winter.

Affordable 'green modules' with Boston Ivy p. tricuspidata and indented climbing fields -- see text.
Affordable green modules, shopping centre in Leipzig Liebertwolkwitz
Moss on a coping
Moss on a coping
Wall greening in a wall niche
Wall greening in a wall niche
Suspended hanging basket on a facade
Hanging basket on a facade
The most modern greening systems, a "vertical garden" by Patrick Blanc at the department store 'Galeries Lafayette,' Berlin (see photo above).
The most modern greening system - shopping centre "Galeries Lafayette"
Simple greening system with annuals in hanging plant pockets
Simple greening system with annuals in hanging plant pockets, State hotricultural show in Koblenz / Rhineland-Palatinate 2011
Detail from the notable "living wall" in Berlin, department store 'Galeries Lafayette'
Living Wall in Berlin, shopping centre "Galeries Lafayette"