Not all ‘green walls’ being placed in homes throughout Australia are genuinely ‘living’ whilst some may be harmful for the environment or may even cause fire hazards, the founder of a leading green wall provider has warned.

Mark Paul, founder of vertical garden specialist company The Greenwall Company, has warned home-owners and home decorators that there are benefits and drawbacks to a number of green wall systems commonly sold on the market.

According to Paul, green wall systems can be broken down into four common types: Living green walls and green roofs; potted plant walls; moss walls and artificial walls.

First, there are artificial walls which are made from plastics.

On the positive side, these systems are easy to install and maintain – requiring only occasional dusting.

Nevertheless, they have serious drawbacks.

First, they are obviously not living and thus do not deliver the benefits of bringing natural elements into the home.

Being made from plastics, meanwhile, these systems actually do harm for the environment.

Worst, Paul says these systems can become a fire hazard. Artificial walls, he says, collect fibres and dust. This dust builds up and static electricity is generated from walking across synthetic carpet.

This, Paul says, has resulted in several cases where the plastic walls become flammable.

Next, there are moss walls.

According to Paul, these are cheap to install and are good collectors of dust and fibres.

Nevertheless, he says that these walls are actually not living and thus fail to provide the benefits associated with having natural plants in the home. Rather, he says the moss is sourced from the Arctic Circle, coated, glued and sprayed with acrylic colours.

Third, there are potted plant walls made up of potted plants which are formed to make a design.

Obviously, the plants used in these systems are genuinely living and deliver the benefits associated with bringing nature into homes.

As well, these systems can be less extensive to install.

According to Paul, however, these systems require extensive maintenance and can involve large amounts of cost and time to maintain. Many systems suffer from ongoing water issues due to a dripper blocking, which results in that particular pot dying and needing replanting. Soil also needs to be replaced regularly as it is biodegradable.

Finally, there are living green walls and green roofs.

According to Paul, these installations are soilless and actively growing all year round.

Also, if planted correctly and set up with an automated irrigation system, these systems are low maintenance and will flourish year round.

In order to flourish, however, these systems need consistent light, food and water. They also require an adequate surface area of the root zone to be exposed to air movement.

Living wall system supplied by The Greenwall Company (source: The Greenwall Company)

All up, Paul encourages home-owners to think about what they are trying to achieve and to seek advice.

“When it comes to selecting the best option for greening your home, the first thing you need to consider is what look and feel you are trying to achieve,” Paul says.

“Then you should engage an expert to assess the best planting options, irrigation set up, light access and the environment the wall or roof will be installed.

“Working with a horticulturist and an experienced designer, will ensure your installation lasts the lifetime of the home and in most cases can be moved with you.”