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Vertical gardens in offices

Izabela Jop • 03/10/2022

The company of plants is the daily reality for us in our Warsaw office, so we know from our own experience the benefits for bringing greenery indoors.

As well as providing a wonderful aesthetic, including a cosy and interesting interior, plants boost the health of office users.

Employees exposed to toxic chemicals from office equipment and glued furniture or harmful microparticles emitted into the air through carpet wear frequently suffer from headaches, dry skin or throat, and chronic fatigue.

Plants partially alleviate the effect of those negative factors. Placed in an open office space, they help bring down noise levels, thereby boosting health and limiting distraction. Some plants have bactericidal, fungicidal or germicidal properties and act as natural air filters. They also improve air circulation and humidity, thereby moistening and soothing upper airways, which helps reduce the risk of infection to employees.

An interior environment with vegetation has both a calming and stimulating effect. 

As a result, plants directly boost in-office work productivity and create a cosier atmosphere. 

An interesting way to bring greenery indoors is to design a green wall, or a vertical garden. Such a green wall is a beautiful element of office fit-out and does not require any additional space.

Vertical garden irrigation

If you decide to have a green wall with live plants, you may want to consider an irrigation system that will make regular watering easier. During office design it is a good idea to designate a location for such a wall and have water supply installed. The wall featuring a vertical garden should be protected from dampness and reinforced to support such an additional structure. Depending on the structure you choose, the vertical garden can be either freestanding or attached to a wall.

In the case of a wall with preserved plants such as moss, plants are attached to a board which is later mounted on the wall – the wall designated for the vertical garden should be properly reinforced during construction, for example with an oriented strand board (OSB). There is no need for irrigation or protecting the wall against dampness as plants absorb moisture from the air. Moss looks its best when air humidity is least 40% - it may begin to dry out over time when the air is too dry but will spring back once appropriate humidity is restored. If the ambient air is too dry, you may consider placing an air humidifier by the moss wall.

In the case of a wall with live plants, an irrigation system makes watering significantly easier and faster. It basically consists of narrow pipes, inserted in pots, which will carry water to plants. With a range of solutions available on the market, the irrigation system can be activated through a mobile app or automatically by soil moisture sensors once soil moisture drops below a set value. The choice of a system depends on the type of the green wall.

Do vertical gardens require access to daylight?

Preserved plants do not require any daylight. Live plants must have access to daylight (its required volume varies by plant species) or supplemental light from lamps with appropriate colour temperature and intensity. Plants can now receive additional light exposure from lamps emitting light that is harmless to humans – they can therefore be used to bring out the beauty of green walls.

Is it a good idea to contract indoor plant care services?

Suppliers of plants to offices usually also provide professional plant maintenance services – depending on your needs they can provide daily plant care including watering, pest control, fertilizing, repotting, replacing dead plants, etc. or be contracted to deliver some services while you remain responsible for watering. 

The frequency of visits will depend on the requirements and amount of plants and office conditions such as air temperature and humidity. With a large amount of plants and a broad range of services required, maintenance professionals will be paying several visits per week.

What plants are the best for vertical gardens in offices?

Plants for offices should be carefully chosen for the interior environment in commercial premises and be more resilient to pests and diseases. Top picks for offices are species that are resilient and less demanding such as Aglaonema, Ficus elastica, Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron scandens, and Dracaena.

At Cushman & Wakefield we opted for a symbolic green wall but our Project Managers are capable of taking up bigger challenges - literally.

C&W Upfield Grzybowska park
 Cushman & Wakefield Interior by Massive Design.
Photograph: Szymon Polanski
 Upfield Office Warsaw. Photograph: Photomohito  Grzybowska Park. Photograph: Piotr Krajewski

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