Interacting with nature is an important thing for our bodies. As we know, being around nature helps reduce stress, improve creativity and productivity, and overall health.
There are countless discussions about the significance of bringing the natural world into buildings like workplace or home. Any place where we spend the most time can benefit from biophilic décor.
Well, a new study by Finnish scientists supports this idea even more. It suggests that indoor air-circulating green walls can improve skin quality and immune system of workers in less than a month.
Many studies have found the benefits of bringing the outdoors in. However, this recent research is the first that links living green walls with skin improvement and more immunity against allergens and pathogens.
The researchers conducted the experiment on 28 office workers divided into two groups in urban offices in Tampere and Lahti. A group of 11 added air-purifying green walls in their workspaces, while the rest were a control group without the green walls.
After 28 days, workers that spend their time in the air-circulating green walls had an increase in number and diversity of friendly bacteria on their skin. When there are more friendly bacteria, they help the skin fend off pathogens and inflammation.
Furthermore, immune system responses also improved, not because of the skin condition. The results indicate that being in one space with green walls lead to positive effect on both skin microbiota that strengthen health and the immune system itself.
The control group, on the other hand, not so much.
Research scientist Marja Roslund said, “The results indicate that we can support people’s health with relatively easy nature-based solutions.”
Not only beneficial indoors
From this research, we can say that adding living green walls is going to be beneficial for your overall health. But you are more than welcome to install them outside the building.
Externally, the green walls can help cool the building, improve outdoor air quality around the building, and absorb sound in city centers.
It’s also said that living walls placed outside could provide natural solution to improve urban microclimates. If we used about 20-30% of external walls and rooftops for greening, city centers’ temperatures would be better.
Long story short, when you have green walls inside and outside the building, both living walls will benefit everyone and are highly suggested.
Low-maintenance plants for your green space
Some of us aren’t exactly the green thumb, so there’s this worry that comes up when we actually want to make our own living walls or green space. Not to worry, here are some plant ideas that you can get.
Oh, but before you get some of the plants below, make sure that the plants won’t cause invasive species issues. And, if the places you’re installing the living walls in have pets (if you have a home office, for instance), find out if the plants you’re getting are toxic.
Rubber Tree Plant
This indoor houseplant has naturally shiny leaves that’s not only beautiful to look at, but also not hard to grow and maintain. It will grow into 8 feet (2.5 meters), so you can use this plant for a bit of a focal point in your green areas. If you prefer them to be small, you can always prune the long stems and make the plant into a shrub shape.
It’s not without a good reason that you can see this plant in a lot of places and households. The dark leaves and curving white flowers are pretty and they’re easy to grow. You don’t need a lot of light and humidity to care for this plant, so it’s perfect for rooms with few windows.
This is one of the many perfect choices of plant for your living green walls. Pothos Ivy is able to absorb and strip toxins like formaldehyde from furniture and other stuff inside your building, such as carpet.
The air-purifying plant has railing stems, so it’s good in a hanging basket or a climbing plant. Again, it’s a good choice for walls, but you can also use the plant in whatever ways you see fit.
If you’re a total beginner, you may want to get one of the hardest indoor plants to kill, which is this type of palm tree. The arching fronds is great to put in some empty corners, adding a touch of elegance and a decorative statement.
Kentia Palm can cope with most light conditions, and it grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Its slender leaves cast beautiful shadows, which will look stunning when sunlight comes to your window.
Another plant that’s perfect for empty corners or table sides is this drought tolerant and robust plant. Also known as Sansevieria, the relatively slow growing plant can cope with low light spaces and is one of a few plants that keeps producing oxygen in near dark conditions.
And, it’s also one that you may want to get for your green walls/spaces because they can get rid of harmful airborne chemicals that you find in interior fittings, paint, and other indoor stuff. Much like the Pothos Ivy.
String of Hearts
Undemanding and very tolerant, this plant stores water in its long stems which can rech up to 6.5 feet (2 m) long. The bicolor plant will look beautiful on your living walls, but you can also plant string of hearts in a pot and put it a shelf or a hanging planter above windows or stairs.
Fiddle-leaf Fig Tree
The indoor tree has large, lustrous, dark green leaves that sort of look like a fiddle or violin, hence the name. A species of ficus, Fiddle-leaf Fig Tree likes bright (indirect) to medium light as well as temperatures around 65 and 80 degrees (18 to 26 C).
Although it’s native to tropical parts of Africa and therefore thrives in warm and wet conditions, don’t fret. This plant is relatively tough and is able to withstand different environment for a long time. So, it’s relatively easy to grow and care for.
This plant is one of the go-to choices when it comes to green walls due to its ability to remove harmful toxins from the surrounding air and help lower carbon monoxide levels. Moreover, it’s one of the easiest and most tolerant indoor plants you can grow.
Spider plant can still grow with low light levels, even artificial light. In fact, it’s not good to leave them under direct sunlight.
Other ways to bring nature indoors
Bringing the outdoors in isn’t just limited to getting indoor plants inside. If it’s possible, you can add skylights and sheer drapes that allow natural light to brighten your indoor space. Letting nature through can also allow you to know the weather, so it’s a plus-plus.
It’s also a good choice to incorporate sounds of nature inside the building/room. The easiest way would be getting sounds of water from fountains, aquariums, and water walls. They’re relaxing to look at, and the flowing, bubbling sounds of the water can reduce stress and improve health.
Even though it seems like a cliché, furniture or décor made from natural materials like stone, bamboo, hemp, rattan, clay, cork, and wood can make everything more harmonious, giving you a taste of the outdoors from inside the building. So, if it’s possible, try adding more interior elements made from natural materials.