It’s Alive!

Can a living wall thrive in the desert? Where there’s a pro, there’s a way.

Lisa Marie Hart Interior Design, Real Estate

Living walls bring life to entryways or other large walls. The best installations take root during a project’s early stages to factor in track lighting and irrigation.

Plants are the new art. Where a painting might look flat and static, a leafy green “living wall” of plants is a three-dimensional alternative that changes subtly throughout the day and dramatically as it fills out over time.

The sensible question is whether these trendy, organic décor darlings will survive in a climate where dry air and extreme heat take a toll on even the hardiest species. We asked Julie Davis Farrow, founder and CEO of Plantscapers in Rancho Mirage, what it takes to plant the idea and watch it grow.

A living wall is … In our offerings, it’s a wall filled with lush 4- or 6-inch living (or replica) plants. Made to reflect a client’s interiors, it can be any size. We have done very architectural ones with straight, clean lines and flowing ones with curves and pops of color.

These are walls with benefits? Yes. Plants make people feel good. They lower stress and enhance productivity, absorb sound, create a soothing environment, boost comfort levels, and remove indoor pollution. Living walls create a great deal of happiness called “biophilia.” This necessary component of human health signals our own biology’s desires to commune with nature every day.

Will the walls thrive here? In the right area they will, which we analyze on our consultations. We consider lighting, humidity, and temperature. In the desert, living walls work best inside. We can install anywhere, on drywall, brick, or cement.

So what’s the fine print? They are maintained by a computerized automatic watering system or by hand, but living walls still require professional maintenance weekly. This includes watering, fertilizing, trimming, shining, spraying for insects if necessary, and making timely replacements. We also create easy-maintenance walls from preserved mosses or high-end replica plants: no special lights or water required, just light dusting.