How to make your building breathe

Planted with living walls and roofs, helping a building breathe, can filter out pollutants from the surrounding atmosphere.

We don’t need a budget of millions or an architect to wake up our own buildings with greenery either. Read on for information on how you can create your own living wall or green roof and help your building breathe.

Living walls

The spectacular work of pioneering horticulturalist Patrick Blanc (above) brought green walls to wider attention in the noughties. Living walls aren’t just pretty faces though. London’s largest living wall, unveiled near Buckingham Palace, has been designed to absorb excess rain and help combat flash flooding.

Of course, livings walls aren’t a new idea. Climbing plants came up with it as long ago as humans started building walls! A clematis plant climbing a Victorian terrace has anti-pollution benefits. It also provides beneficial food for insects such as bees.

How to DIY a living wall, without breaking the bank

There are a number of planting pockets and modules that you can use to brighten up an old fence or wall. If you’re planning to attach your green wall to a fence, check its weight when fully planted before buying. You may need to add some battens for strength.

We like Wally Planters from Woolly Pocket (£30). Made from 100% recycled materials, they’re hardwearing, suitable for indoor or outdoor use and modular, so you can have as many or as few as you like in your living wall.

Green roofs

It’s been said that when you create a green roof, your building becomes part of the landscape.

Amongst other technical benefits, green roofs reduce heating and cooling costs, absorb pollutants, reduce the likelihood of flooding. They act as natural filters for rainwater and provide a mini-ecosystem for wildlife.

If you’re thinking about creating a green roof, it’s important that the building is sturdy enough to hold the structure you build. An old shed might not be up to the job! If in doubt about a building’s load bearing potential, seek advice from a professional.

With the right roof space and a little DIY knowledge, it’s actually possible to build your own green roof in a day!

When deciding what to plant on your green roof, you’ll be spoilt for choice! There are any number of plants that will thrive on rooftops. Be sure to steer clear of ones with the potential to grow really tall as these could pose a risk. Choose evergreen and low maintenance plants for simplicity and year-round good looks.

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