Friday, August 20, 2010

Green Wall: Sounds Good!

Plants and decibels are not usually two words that are used together in the same sentence. But Victoria Coyne from Victoria Gardens has been thinking about the two together a lot recently. It all started with a decorative vertical planting on the front of the garden shop, surrounding the front door.

“It started off simply as a beautiful feature,” says Victoria.

Her husband Wayne Wadell engineered the irrigated panels that could attach directly to the side of the building, but as they worked on the idea and completed the one sided panels, the couple started thinking of other applications, in particular, a freestanding panel that could be planted on both sides.

One of the many benefits of green walls and green roofs, besides diminishing runoff problems, insulation, and oxygen production is reducing noise pollution. Homeowners and businesses close to airports have experienced an impressive reduction of the noise levels and vibrations indoors by installing green roofs and green walls, but the problem of noise hardly needs to be a 747 to be troublesome and even damaging.

A passenger car traveling at 65 mph on a road 25 feet away is measured at 77 dB (decibels). Anyone who lives on Rt. 209 between Kingston and Stone Ridge experiences that sound level constantly. But let’s look at an even less extreme example: a central air conditioning unit. Even a newer “quieter” version can still produce a droning of 76 dB.

Sleep studies have shown that even low frequency noise such as humming ventilation at 69 dB or the sound of traffic through closed windows (35 dB) had an effect on subjects as they slept. “Subjects took longer time to fall asleep during exposure to low frequency ventilation noise while exposure to traffic noise induced greater irritation in the morning.” - Waye KP. Effects of low frequency noise on sleep. Noise Health 2004;6:87-91

Most of us hardly need a scientist to tell us that our sleep and moods are affected by the humming, droning, or buzzing noises that surround us even in the country. Few people think about how loud something like an air conditioner or heat pump will be - at least until the unit is installed and running in their backyard. With some units, the noise created by the condensing unit outside can even interfere with indoor peace and quiet.

Which brings us back to freestanding green wall panels, which absorb sound and vibration as opposed to simply reflecting them. According to, due to the soft plant level of green walls, insulation can be improved and sound reduced by 8 dB.

To enjoy the peace and quiet of your outdoor seating area and the beautiful feature of a vertical garden?

Sounds good!

Here's a list of the cold-hardy varieties of sedums and sempervivums we used:

Sedum 'Dasyphyllum Major' - Pictured above.
Sedum a. 'Orange Ice'
Sedum 'Voodoo'
Sempervivum Mix
Sedum hakonense Makino
Sedum s. 'Ruby Mantle'
Sedum 'Sexangulare'
Sempervivum Sunset
Sedum 'Red Carpet'
Sedum r. 'Angelina'
Sedum 'Tri-Color'
Sempervivum Green Wheel
Sempervivum Red Cobweb
Sedum pachyclados
Sedum 'Oreganum'
Sempervivum Cobweb Buttons *

* Cobweb buttons * Aren't they adorable?


Melissa McGill said...

Oh my Vicki that is so beautiful! Are you manufacturing the wall base? Will they make it through the winter? I was thinking of doing something like that here but don't know if they'll make it in the desert and was wondering about the irrigation along the building...

Can you post this to my FB page?

Victoria Gardens said...

Yes, all the sedum are cold hardy and some will change colors in the fall and winter.

We built in irrigation and there is a vapor barrier in between the panels and the building, just like with a green roof.

So glad you like it!