Get Your Green On!

With everyone becoming more aware of our ecosystem and environment in the last decade, eco-friendly and sustainable ways of living have been on the rise. Everyone across the globe is trying to make their homes greener and less toxic. One of the best ways to do this, given space constraints in most homes today, is to have a vertical green wall. Green walls are systems which will allow you to grow plants inside your home without occupying too much floor space. It is now possible to have a large number of live plants without encroaching on the built-up area.

Twenty-one years ago, Sonali Srikanth started ‘Riddhi’s Aesthetics’ – a business of flowers and plants, both natural and artificial – and the firm has been working on vertical green walls for the past seven years. Vertical gardens are the most practical type of greenery to have in small houses, as they don’t take up much floor space and can liven up the wall and ambience of the home. “It is a necessity in all homes and once you learn to keep up a live wall, it isn’t very difficult to maintain as there is no extra cost,” says Sonali.

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Apart from looking exceptionally beautiful, vertical gardens have several benefits in making a home environmentally friendly. The presence of a vertical green wall can reduce the urban heat, island effect and smog. It also cleans the outside air that comes in full of pollutants and dust, and offsets the carbon footprint of people and fuel emissions while creating a habitat for small birds and other types of insects that can be beneficial to our environment. Besides its numerous environmental benefits, vertical garden walls are great for acoustics and insulation as well. They act as a relatively effective sound proofing barrier, and can cool the building envelope.

The architectural benefits of a vertical garden are only the beginning. They have been found to increase the foot traffic in retail spaces, reduce absenteeism and boost employee morale in the workplace. In addition, they can speed up recovery time for patients through a phenomenon known as biophila, which refers to an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world. According to a theory, they can also be used for growing food in urban settings, in turn increasing the real estate value of the space.

Explaining how to choose the types of plants to use in a vertical garden, Sonali said, “Depending on the luxury levels in the given ambience, we decide on the plants to be used. There are plants for indoor and outdoor applications.”For indoors, commonly cultivated house plants like Syngonium, Phyodandran, Spathipyllum, and money plant are used, while Scheflera, Durantha gold, and Irasin are preferred for outdoor locations.

There has been an increasing demand for vertical gardens in Hyderabad in recent years. Awareness about environmental issues has been spreading and most people want to be more responsible. There has also been a rise in the average standard of living, as houses are not only meant to be for shelter, but also represent assets of beauty and aesthetics. Vertical gardens have been favoured over horizontal gardens much more of late, and Sonali points out that, “The major advantage of a vertical garden as opposed to a horizontal one is that in smaller flat sizes, there is no floor space taken away to beautify homes and offices.”

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Apart from several corporate and residential projects in Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and the Financial District, Riddhi Aesthetics has had several high-profile projects in the city, like green walls at both Hyderabad and Vijayawada International Airports, the CM’s Camp Office in Vijayawada, GHMC Head Office, The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, Mahindra Satyam, Microsoft, Mantri Builders, Cyber Towers, Cyber Gateway, and Hitech Convention Centre.

The idea of vertical gardens in homes and workspaces is catching on quick. We might soon be looking at vertical gardens beautifying every home and retail space in the city, making the city greener and even more eco-friendly.     --Tanya