Making vertical gardens more climate resilient

02/05/2023 - 09:34

The demand for more urban green continues to grow. Greenery makes cities more live-able and climate-proof. Vertical gardens and green walls (also called plant walls or living walls) are also gaining in popularity. These eye-catchers contribute to biodiversity and air purification. In addition, they provide sound absorption, energy savings and cooling of the environment. But vertical gardens or greenery also face a number of challenges:

  • civil engineering considerations: what construction can I use?
  • orientation: a north- or south-facing wall?
  • plant selection: which plants are suitable?
  • substrate: is there sufficient water retention capacity?
  • availability of water and nutrients in relation to the fertigation system.maintenance.
  • etc.

Research to address the challenges

During 2014-2019, a Flemish Innovation Partnership (VIS track) was conducted with the support of Vlaio (Innovation & Enterprise Agency): VIS “Groen Bouwen (Building ecologically)" (IWT 140993).

The objective of this IWT (Agency for Innovation, Science and Technology) project was twofold: to acquire local knowledge on the subject and to stimulate the implementation of green walls in Flanders in Belgium because of their numerous advantages, both individually and collectively. The project consisted of acquiring better knowledge of existing green wall systems and their advantages and disadvantages. A 2nd phase looked at how these systems could be optimised. Finally, it focused on the development of new technologies and products.

TerraCottem BV was one of the partners. In this research, comparative growing trials were done with different soil improvers, including TerraCottem.

The results were conclusive. Adding the TerraCottem soil conditioners to the substrate gives the following results.

  • TerraCottem-treated plants are by far the most vital.
  • These treated plants are also the most drought resistant.
  • These plants produce the most biomass, both above ground (the green vegetation) and "below ground" (root development).
  • The substrate with TerraCottem has the highest water retention capacity.

Mixing a small amount of TerraCottem universal with the substrate stimulates plant development and increases the substrate’s water and nutrient retention capacity. In turn, the soil conditioner substantially increases plant survival rate and sustains a healthy vegetation.

Groen Bouwen (Building green)
"Green walls for sustainable buildings and cities"
Optimisation of water retention of some growth media used in vertical greenery.

In search of inspiration?

Courtesy of:

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Forestpa (Colombië) @forestpa_sas
Ing. Pavel Šimek – Florart
Nadine Wiggers @nadinewiggers

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