Wowed by green walls

Wowed by green walls
Civil servant Joanne Quek on the green wall in the bathroom (above) of her jumbo HDB flat.

Homes may have grown smaller but that has not stopped people from seeking ways to add greenery to their dwellings.

With less floor space to work with, home owners have taken to using their walls to house plants, sparking a rising trend in living green walls.

The vertical garden business has picked up in the last two years, especially as costs have come down with better technology, say companies that specialise in this.

Mr Veera Sekaran, managing director and principal consultant of vertical greenery specialist Greenology in Farnborough Road in Changi, says costs have dipped by almost half. His company charges about $500 to $700 a square metre to set up a green wall with a built-in watering system.

Mr Darren Neo of Vertical Green, a landscaping company in Soon Lee Street, estimates that costs have dropped by 20 to 40 per cent.

Both companies started about six years ago.

Mr Sekaran says: "It was considered expensive just four years ago, but now it has a life of its own as people are more conscious about climate change. Or they decide that a green wall can be used as a screen for privacy rather than putting up a concrete wall."

He adds: "The environmental benefits are far more than what they expect. Having a green wall can reduce heat in rooms, make your house aesthetically pleasing and be an alternative food source if you grow herbs."

Assistant director Steven Ng of The Nature Company in Joan Road says it has seen a 20 per cent jump in the number of residential projects asking for vertical greenery in the last two years.

The vertical garden concept was modernised by French botanist Patrick Blanc, who patented it in 1988. He has several projects in many cities around the world, including Singapore, such as the Rainforest Rhapsody in Battery Road, which was completed in 2011.

Skyrise greenery made the news last week when Tree House, a 24-storey condominium in Bukit Timah, clinched a Guinness World Record for having the world's largest vertical garden.

There are other such notable green lungs here, such as the seven-storey green wall with 13,000 plants at office building 158 Cecil Street and the 2,125 sq m garden at Ocean Financial Centre in Raffles Place. The Ocean Financial Centre wall used to hold the record as the world's largest vertical garden, with 51,000 potted plants arranged to form the map of Singapore.

More private home owners, too, believe green is in. For Mrs C. Loke, a vertical garden was a must when she built a wall to give her semi-detached house in Serangoon Gardens Way some privacy.

The 1.5m-tall green wall, which is 11m long, features seven species of plants tucked into felt pockets which are mounted on a panel. She paid Vertical Green about $10,000 last year for the installation and now spends $180 to $200 every three months for maintenance.

The 43-year-old, who works in the banking industry, lives with her businessman husband and their 16-year-old son. The family also have a small soil garden next to the vertical wall, where they grow plants such as a frangipani tree, red ginger and a yellow bell tree.

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