The Big Benefits of a Vertical Garden Will Have You Looking Up

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated January 28, 2022
decorated vertical wall garden in patio
Photo: fotolismthai/ Adobe Stock


  • Vertical gardens grow upwards instead of outwards

  • Grow more in small spaces with vertical gardens

  • Can decrease summer energy bills by up to 23%

  • Increased air quality and reduced noise pollution

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Compared to a traditional plant bed, vertical gardens might seem a little bit off the wall. In reality, this space-saving gardening trend couldn’t be more on it. It’s—literally—attached to the wall. What started as a simple 1988 experiment by French botanist Patrick Blac evolved into a phenomenon favored by architects and urban gardeners alike. 

With all the fuss, you might be wondering if vertical gardens really are all that and a bag of hydroponics. The answer is yes! Here are the six major benefits of vertical gardens.

What Is a Vertical Garden?

Vertical gardens—also known as living walls, green walls, plant walls, or vertical walls—are gardens that grow upwards instead of outwards. Rather than utilizing horizontal plant beds, vertical gardens are affixed to a vertical surface like a wall or fence. 

The high-end types that are installed by professional local gardeners and contractors typically use hydroponics, but you can build your own vertical garden using plastic planters and water it by hand. Some green walls, like vertical gardens made from preserved moss, are full of plants that don’t need any water at all.

Vertical Gardens Make the Most of a Small Space

Since vertical gardens grow vertically, they actually have a very small footprint, which is one of its standout benefits. This makes them ideal for tiny spaces—think cramped apartments, small bathrooms, or itty bitty balconies. 

Basically, you can grow the same amount of plants as a traditional garden, whether you opt for leafy green houseplants, flowers, succulents, veggies, or even a DIY vertical herb garden.

No Backyard, No Problem

vertical garden on the walls of a house
Photo: Lisa Stokes/ Moment/ Getty Images

You don’t need a backyard or a plot of dirt to grow a green wall. Green walls thrive in non-traditional spaces, which is why they’re so popular in urban settings. 

As long as your plants get enough natural light, you can grow a vertical garden on:

  • An interior wall

  • A balcony

  • A railing

  • A rooftop

  • An exterior wall

  • Backyard shipping pallets

In recent years, it’s even become trendy for apartment buildings and hotels to work green walls into their exterior construction.

Do Vertical Gardens Improve Indoor Air Quality?

vertical garden in living room wall
Photo: Deidre/ Adobe Stock

Want to breathe easier? Your regular house plants may not cut it. A 2017 study in the journal Buildings and Environments found that some of the most common houseplants barely make a dent in reducing ozone levels. Instead, there’s strength in numbers. Enter: the vertical garden. 

A 2020 study showed that green walls really can improve indoor air quality, but the same also goes for the air outside. For example, according to a proposal for Europe’s soon-to-be largest green wall, which will live on the exterior of a London hotel called Citicape, the 40,000 square foot vertical garden will absorb 8 tons of pollution a year.

Are Vertical Gardens Energy-Efficient?

Want a lower energy bill? Another big benefit of vertical gardens is that they’re a great energy-saving strategy. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), green walls can reduce your summer energy bill by as much as 23%. How? It all comes down to a process called evapotranspiration.

During evapotranspiration, water circulates through a plant, and the plant releases moisture. This moisture evaporates, lowering the air temperature. According to the ASLA, the temperature behind a green wall can be 10 degrees Celsius cooler than elsewhere in the home. In other words, vertical gardens can give your air conditioner a break. 

Can a Vertical Garden Reduce Noise Pollution?

Can’t stand your noisy neighbors? No problem. Let your plants bring you peace. Living walls act as de facto soundproofing, absorbing sound waves and acting as acoustic insulation. How well do they work? It’s a moderate improvement.

A 2015 study found that a green wall spanning about 6.6 square feet reduced noise from a neighboring room by an average of 15 decibels—about half the soundproofing power as double-paned windows. You’ll still probably need to wear earplugs if a party is raging in the apartment above you, but it will dampen moderate chatter.

Vertical Gardens Reduce Stress—on Your Mind and Your Back

Plants are known stress-relievers, and as it turns out, they’re excellent listeners. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, interacting with indoor plants (whether you’re touching them, smelling them, or just talking to them) can reduce both physiological and psychological stress. Vertical gardens take it one step further.

Traditional gardening puts a lot of strain on the body, particularly the back and knees. You have to consistently kneel down in the dirt and bend over to prune leaves. Since vertical gardens grow upwards, there’s much less physical strain, making this a major benefit for gardeners. You can even create a vertical garden at a comfortable height. Your back will thank you.

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