Do You Know Your Green Wall Lingo?

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Not sure how to identify all the different green wall technologies that exist? Green wall industry experts actually have specific lingo for differentiating the categories and sub-categories of green walls.

The term ‘green wall’ is the best term when speaking broadly about vertical vegetation systems. It might also be called:

  • Vertical Garden
  • Living Green Wall
  • Greenwall
  • Vegetated Wall
  • Living Wall
  • Vertical Greenery
  • Eco-wall

According to green wall industry experts, certain terms may actually be more appropriate for specific types of green walls. For example, a living wall is a type of green wall, but a ‘green wall’ isn’t necessarily a living wall.

As the green wall trend caught on worldwide, great strides in research and relentless product development have taken vertical greening to a whole new level.

There are three main categories of green walls: green retaining walls, green facades and living walls. While all of these green wall types seek to vegetate the vertical plane, they go about doing so differently.



Retaining Wall

The green retaining wall (aka living retaining wall, living landscape wall), sometimes considered a sub-category of living wall, has a very unique application. Green retaining walls serve the dual purpose of stabilizing a slope, thus creating more developable space, while accommodating vegetation as a green feature. Green retaining walls are typically modular, and contain pockets designed to hold volumes of growth medium and support vegetation. Depending on the system, green retaining walls can facilitate groundcovers, perennials, grasses, and even small trees and shrubs. Cape Brick is a provider of green retaining walls and slope reinforcement systems.


Nedlaw System

Living Wall


Living walls use modules or layers affixed to a wall or structure to hold plants on a vertical plane and are appropriate for indoor or outdoor applications. Living walls can be sub-categorized into modular living walls, vegetated mat walls, and biofiltration walls. Modular living walls (or modular green walls) use specialized trays, panels, or modules filled with an engineered growing medium. Vegetated mat walls feature layers of synthetic fabric and a hydroponic system to support the plants. Biofiltration walls are designed to improve air quality and regulate indoor air.



Green Facade

Green facades usually feature plants climbing from ground level soil or from planter containers. Green facades can be sub-categorized as directly-attached or indirectly-attached. A directly-attached green facade simply refers to climbing vegetation growing directly on the wall structure. On the other hand, generally aggressive plants used might hinder maintenance and possibly damage the building envelope. Addressing those concerns is the indirectly-attached green façade, which utilizes a climbing structure to facilitate plant growth. The climbing structure might be a trellis system or a strong cable, wire, or rope.  Green facades are limited to exterior applications, but indoor greening might be feasible under the right conditions.

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