Living Space: Living walls offer visual interest, natural beauty indoors or out

Vertical gardens can be created with flowering or green plants, even vegetables like peppers and tomatoes can be grown using a living wall.

Plants are one of the most overlooked decorative accents in the home. But one thing is for sure: living walls - large, vertical displays of green and/or flowering plants - can't be ignored.

A living wall instantly provides a touch of natural beauty and an attractive focal point for a room or outdoor space. Of course, plants also offer a great way to improve indoor air quality.

Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor living wall - or both - the results are sure to spark plenty of interest.

What to consider

Outdoors, green walls can be used to separate various parts of the garden, provide privacy or create a beautiful green backdrop for a patio or other space. Watering and sunlight are not as much of an issue as it is for similar indoor displays.

Living walls, sometimes called vertical gardens, can be created with flowering, green plants or various types of vegetables. You can choose anything from decorative perennials and annuals to herbs, peppers and other edible plants.

A living wall of herbs would be a great addition for the gourmet cook. Consider a green wall for tomatoes or summer vegetables to make for quick and easy picking. These are especially nice if bending over is difficult for you.

Before you build, think about whether your living wall will be something you want to maintain year after year. If so, plant with perennials, but also consider how the wall will look during the winter. For year-round interest in cold climates, you can plant an entire wall with evergreens.

Construction

Green walls can be designed in a variety of ways. A kit is the best option for assembling the wall quickly and easily. One handy choice is to use Woolly Pockets. These felt-like pockets can be filled with soil, plants and then hung from screws on a wall ($144, Woollypocket.com). They can be used indoors or out.

Another option is to build a tray with a multicell vertical planter. Insert a wall planter such as a Grovert, a polymer unit with 10 individual planting cells, into a wood frame, and you've got a beautiful green space ($33, verticalgardeningsystems.com).

Of course, you can always go the do-it-yourself route. Probably the easiest way to build a green wall indoors or out is with vines. Simply plant and wait for them to climb up a trellis or other support. Soon, you'll have a solid green wall that provides privacy and beauty in your home or yard.

When it comes to living walls indoors, a kit is definitely preferable to trying to do the job yourself. Watering is easier, and oftentimes, the mechanism is built into the structure. Watering is done from the top of the planters, so the moisture trickles down.

Some wall kits are actually assemblies of single units, and the segments need individual watering. The benefit of these units is that you can create exactly the size unit you want as opposed to being stuck with a single unit only available in a specific size.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.