Living Walls – The Art of Vertical Landscape
A beautifully designed landscape can provide the perfect backdrop to any home, enhancing its features and framing pools and patios. But what if the natural colors and textures of landscape could actually become art, creating a living wall, even indoors?
That’s exactly what Scott Hutcheon envisioned when he first began designing “wall gardens” years ago. By designing a skillful arrangement of colorful plants, grasses, ferns and flowers, Hutcheon creates a three-dimensional framed work of living art known as a “living wall.”
While the concept of “vertical gardens” has long been popular throughout Europe and even China, Hutcheon created the original living wall here in the U.S. using a patented watering system in an innovative modular design. And, though many other types of living wall systems now exist, this modular design has been refined to manage weight, soil and water most effectively. Scott has created living walls for trade-shows and exhibits, including the Los Angeles Auto Show, and perhaps most notably, a permanent installation in the Venetian’s Palazzo in Las Vegas.
Artfull Expression Brought to the Individual Homeowners
Initially an extravagance suited for hotel lobbies and specialized exhibits, the possibilities presented by living walls are just beginning to be recognized by individual homeowners. This truly unusual concept – moving plants from a horizontal plane to a vertical plane – provides designers with a whole new canvas of design opportunities.
A living wall is made up of modular panels, allowing for a completely customizable size and shape and easy replacement of individual plants. Each panel contains a small irrigation tank at the top to add water, a synthetic mat designed to hold water and retain nutrients and a water collection tray at the bottom that can be emptied as needed. It’s clean, and both soil and water are completely contained making the modules ideal for indoor installations. Panels are also designed to attach drip lines for easy outdoor maintenance.
There are other natural benefits from living walls. A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified custom home in Culver City commissioned Hutcheon to install a three-story indoor living wall comprised of tropical plants and foliage as a functional design element to assist in cooling the building. Through a process called evapotranspiration, in which water moves through a plant’s leaves and evaporates into the air, plants have a natural ability to cool their environment. >>
New concepts for living walls are constantly emerging. According to Hutcheon, his new “HerbXchange” will provide one 10”x 20” panel of artfully arranged fresh herbs for use in the kitchen. When used up, panels can be exchanged for a fresh choice of herbs.
Super Custom – Super Unique
Additionally, living walls make it easy to incorporate the naturally changing colors of the seasons into home decor, from the beautiful colors of fall to the fresh flowers of spring. In fact, Scott is already designing panels that will integrate lustrous poinsettias for the holiday season.
Hutcheon’s living walls can provide a truly one-of-a-kind feature in any home. “They’re super-custom, and they’re still largely untapped. There are very few homes that we’ve done in southern California – so it’s very unique.”
By Garett McCorkle