Melbourne-based Modula' Greenwalls designs, manufactures, installs and maintains vertical gardens and greenroof systems throughout Australia for commercial, residential and hospitality clients. Owner, Troy Danns, brings to his work more than two decades of horticultural, landscape design and construction experience.

What sparked your career in landscape design?

As a child I had a strong interest in horticulture. I was constantly growing cuttings and tending plants from primary school age.

What inspired you to establish your own business?

I had always wanted to own my own business. While working in the horticulture field for others, I started to take on my own side projects and this evolved into the business I have today.

When and why did you first decide to offer greenwalls to your customers?

I first started offering vertical gardens around 10 years ago, mainly to have a point of difference from other landscapers. Getting into greenwalls was also an interesting avenue for extending my interest in creative horticulture.

What advice would you give someone thinking about a greenwall?

Do your research! There are so many different systems and installers in the market. Go for simplicity and functionality.

Are greenwalls a good option for people who don't think they have a green thumb?

Yes, absolutely. If built and installed correctly, most greenwalls are low maintenance. It's always reassuring to know that most vertical garden installers offer a full maintenance service if needed.

What do you see as some of the advantages of living greenwalls?

Greenwalls give a remarkably high visual impact for a small amount of space or narrow footprint. Plants arranged in this way have a calming effect, while in general they also help to remove dangerous VOCs from the air. Improving indoor air quality is a huge advantage of commercial and residential greenwalls.

Vertical gardens are a perfect way of bringing greenery into apartment living.

Living greenwalls are beautiful, but are they practical for the average homeowner in terms of cost and maintenance?

A simple, small DIY greenwall is quite inexpensive and easy to install. The only real maintenance required is trimming the foliage and pest control as the plants grow.

There are many ways to design a vertical garden – how do you approach greenwall design?

Every greenwall has different requirements; they really are a blank canvas ready for a masterpiece. We design all of our greenwalls as bespoke creations, with a focus on being functional, simple to use and long lasting.

Vicinity Greenwall indoor pool room greenwall for ICON in Southbank.

What types of plants thrive in living wall systems?

For indoors: Calatheas, Philodendrons, Nephrolepis, Syngonium – to name a few! For an exterior greenwall: Anthropodiums, Heuchera, Tolmeia, Phlebodium, Asplenium – but the choices are really limitless.

What's the difference between growing plants in a vertical wall and growing them from a pot or in the ground?

In a garden you can grow a multitude of plant species from small grasses, medium shrubs to large trees. In our greenwalls (with the exception of a few) the basic foliage/plant size should exceed more than 600mm high and 300mm wide in its natural horizontal habitat. Plants that are classed as invasive will not last long term in a greenwall; neither will plants that have large, spreading root systems. For best effect, each greenwall should have plants that complement each other, and have similar water and nutrient requirements. This ensures a lush, sustainable greenwall.

What qualities do you appreciate about the Vicinity Greenwall system?

Ease of installation and the flexibility in overall greenwall size. Unlike hydro-felt greenwalls, if one plant dies, you replace only that plant with the clip-on/clip-off pot. All main components are 'plug and play', making DIY installation a really easy, inexpensive option.

Why do you use the Vicinity system?

It's so easy to use! The Vicinity system works on all horizontal surfaces, flat walls, square and rectangle pillars, and even round pillars. The plant density per square meter is far superior compared to other systems on the market.

Tell us about one of your greenwall projects.

We installed two greenwalls on the 36th floor of the Rialto Towers (Melbourne CBD) for Stockland. These office foyer greenwalls wrapped around a 90° corner with an inbuilt LED flatscreen TV. The ability to deploy individual modules and pots however we wanted made using the Vicinity system in our bespoke greenwall frame super easy. The Vicinity system is our go-to greenwall system for all of our corporate and commercial greenwall installations.

Vicinity Greenwall with irrigation tanks, low voltage irrigation pumps, auto fill and leak sensors to shut the system off in the event of a water leak.

This particular project used a sub-frame of seam-welded powder coated aluminium and incorporated 300 plants, including Davallia, Calathea, Asplenium, Spathiphyllum (Peace lily), Chlorophytum and Tolmiea. The irrigation tanks were also inbuilt seam welded aluminium, incorporating Vicinity greenwall automated pumps.

These walls are irrigated automatically every two days and we provide a maintenance service every two months. We make our own grow media with added fertiliser; after 12 months a liquid fertiliser is added to the irrigation tanks annually.

Our first maintenance visit 6 weeks after installation revealed the plants had almost doubled in size. The walls were simply looking spectacular!