How to Make a Smart Garden

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Years ago I left a dramatic and hated job to begin a new life working out of my home office. While it might seem terrifying to some, it was a miracle for me–it allowed me to step away from the pain and drama of a closed-in, unhealthy environment and transform my office into something healthier. While I spend a lot of time writing in front of my computer inside, I have built a lovely view of the trees and sky. When I am able, I work outside on my balcony or patio–I try to surround myself with plants and life. It does more than make me happy; it helps me breathe and think. Having a close connection to plants while you are working, particularly in a home office, can mean the difference between a positive working environment and a horrid one. That’s why I planted this smart garden, and one like it can do the same for you.

Plants Sharpen Your Brain

Scientific American ran an article discussing the power of plants on the brain based on a study done by the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Researchers demonstrated that when a working office setting has plants, it boosts the office workers ability to maintain attention. Additionally, there was a study done at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, showing that students demonstrated 70 percent greater attentiveness when their class-rooms contained plants. These results are based on a specific concept: attention restoration theory. Rachel and Stephen Kaplan developed the conceptual idea for the theory, and according to attention restoration theory, people can pay attention and have a greater capacity to pay attention to work if that person has had longer exposure to plants or nature. In other words, you can pay attention more when you have an emotional or physical connection with nature.

Combine this scientific information with what we already know about plants and oxygen; that, as part of their breathing process, plants output oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. having plants in a living wall sharpens our attention, produces fresh oxygen, and also offsets chemicals and purifies air, as demonstrated by the study done by the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Plants can make a positive difference for our work environments.

Working at Home

The number of telecommuters or at-home workers is increasing worldwide. According to a poll conducted by Reuters, nearly “one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle east, Latin America, and Asia, tele-commute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day.” While working conditions within an office can be high-pressure or uncomfortable, when workers are able to telecommute, they can take control of their working environment in a unique way.

At-home workers have more freedom to manage family and home because they are able to work the personal hours that make them feel better and in control. Are you a night owl? no problem; working at home enables you to pull more night hours. Are you an early bird? no problem; get up at 4:00 a.m. and jump online to send a few emails. Telecommuting and working at home is also more sustainable because telecommuting reduces carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone levels by at least 25 percent. If 40 percent of the US population would work at home half of the time, it would be like taking 9 million cars permanently off the road.

Make the Balcony, Terrace, or Patio your Office

Blending the work-at-home freedom with more natural conditions means working in the home can actually be better and healthier for you, your corporation, and the environment. Particularly if you take your work to the terrace or balcony. Winter might restrict balcony office work, but three seasons of the year could easily be spent outside on a balcony. With modern-day laptops, it might not even be necessary to have a traditional table or desk. Put together a chair, plants, and a living wall with a place to rest your coffee cup, and you have built a small outdoor office space that might free your soul and your mind to make amazing work progress.

In the United States alone, Forrester Research has forecasted that 34 million Americans currently work at home, and the number is projected to increase to over 65 million by 2016. Working in the home saves large companies time and money. Best yet, it increases the happiness levels of many of the workers that participate in this type of working arrangement. having a traditional home office with an escape to a nature mindset leads to amazing ideas for your summer office. Create a living wall with houseplants, vegetables, or herbs–whatever your favorite plants might be–on your balcony or patio. Keep the living wall on the balcony or patio close to your work zone to enable the most benefits from the experience. Using houseplants might give you the added benefit of moving the wall garden inside to your primary office area during the winter as well.

Working outside on a computer, whether on a covered patio, balcony, or in open area, can sometimes mean that there is glare on your computer. This can be mitigated by installing bamboo screens or a canvas canopy over your work area. Building a large or small living wall in a shaded area that is for low light, accompanied by a mix of tall potted houseplants, can help block glare, absorb street sound, and still provide healthy plants. Combine a home office with a patio, terrace, or balcony for a happier work experience.

Tools Needed

  • 1 bracket-hung framed art wall
  • Screwdriver or drill/driver
  • Exterior screws
  • Measuring tool
  • Level
  • Potting soil
  • organic fertilizer
  • Scented plants
  • Trowel

How to Build a Smart Garden

1. Measure carefully, then hang the framed art wall system according to package directions.

2. Lay system flat and fill with the soil mix using the trowel.

3. Measure an appropriate amount of organic fertilizer into the soil; mix well.

4. Arrange your preferred plants in the container.

5. Water well while the system is still lying flat.

6. While the water is draining, attach the mounting bracket to a secure vertical wall, making sure to keep the brackets level and spaced properly.

7. Hold planted unit and frame together by placing one hand on the back side of the planter and the other hand on the underside of the frame. The collector tray piece should be at the bottom. Slowly set the planter onto the bracket.

8. Slide the irrigator into the top planter grooves for watering, then slide the collector tray onto the bottom ledge of the frame to collect any excess water.

9. When watering in the future, water through the top irrigator unit.

More from Grow a Living Wall:

Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose by Shawna Coronado. Copyright © 2015 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. Reprinted with permission from the publisher; all rights reserved.

Top Houseplants for a Living Wall Garden with Dim or Low-Light Exposure

  • Arrowhead vine
  • Cast iron plant
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Dracaneas
  • Peace lily
  • Peperomia
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Snake plant
  • Spider plant
  • Zee Zee plant