Green walls in the city
Sydney’s walls are greening up and inspiring residents to grow vertically at home.
Amongst the hard exterior of inner city Sydney a quiet revolution is taking place. Residential apartment blocks, terrace courtyards and even heavy traffic route walls are being transformed as councils and residents seek innovative ways to meet rising demand for urban green space. Green walls are taking root in Australia and internationally as one way to overcome a lack of accessible soil, improve air quality and make otherwise drab spaces beautiful.
Sydney City Council is actively encouraging residents and businesses to grow upwards with a new Green Roof and Walls Policy that aims to increase the number of green facades and rooftops in the city. “With higher-density living and a growing population, we need to accommodate people in a healthy way and use urban space as wisely as possible,” says Lucy Sharman from the City of Sydney’s Green Roofs and Walls initiative.
Urban green space also benefits the environment. “Green walls and roof gardens help to cool buildings and slow down rainfall, helping to make cities better adapted to a changing climate,” says Lucy. “They are a practical and accessible way to make cities more liveable while generating environmental and social benefits,” she says.
Lucy says that you can make the simplest green wall by growing vines in pots or a planter bed and training a vine up a wall. By growing a vigorous, fruit-bearing vine, such as passion fruit, you achieve both thermal benefits and have fruit to eat. [Ed note: see more on edible shading plants in Sanctuary 27] You can also grow plants in pots on racks/shelves secured to a wall, espalier fruit trees on wires, or you can go the hydroponic route. Hydroponics is based on growing plants without soil using nutrient/mineral rich water to sustain them.
There are also several companies that specialise in both types of green walls, and some systems are now available from nurseries and hardware stores at cost effective prices. Even small green wall projects can help attract wildlife back into the city and give you the unique satisfaction of creating a garden, no matter what size.
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