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Health and wellness benefits of indoor gardens

Of all the architecture and design trends spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic – from physically distanced layouts, to new ways of designing hospitals and assisted living facilities – indoor gardens stand out as perhaps one of the least talked about, yet potentially most fulfilling.

Lush indoor spaces designed for vegetation isn’t some brand-new thing, after all. The concept of indoor gardens, also known as interior landscaping – from indoor veggie gardens, to modest plant arrangements, to floor cutaways, indoor balcony gardens, and even vertical gardens and living walls – has been around for decades thanks to a growing appreciation of the benefits of plant life on interior spaces.

The concept took on a new meaning after many were stuck at home due to government-imposed restrictions. One of the most popular Instagram interior design trends of 2020 was “indoor garden,” with the search term growing more than 50 percent in popularity year over year. And they’re proving just as popular this year.

But not every indoor space is suitable for an indoor garden. Certain design and other elements – such as plenty of natural light from windows and skylights, along with good ventilation – are key when adding such a feature to your residential or commercial space.

Let’s have a look at why indoor gardens exist, why they’re good for our health, and what building features and amenities really make them flourish.

The health and wellness benefits of indoor gardens

The health and wellness benefits of indoor gardens and plants are as numerous as they are well documented:

  • Houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins and pollutants (known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)) in a room over a 24-hour period
  • Houseplants and greenery can improve concentration and productivity by up to 15 percent, while reducing stress and improving mood
  • Plants regulate humidity and release oxygen, while adding color and design flair to any indoor space

Indoor gardens can be particularly beneficial for improving mood, concentration, and productivity when paired with ample amounts of natural light, which has its own health benefits. And the industry has taken notice. “There is a growing understanding of the benefits of interior landscaping in offices, retail, hospitality and particularly in workplaces,” explains one garden designer in the U.K.

“Any designer with an understanding of how indoor plants can have an impact on health and wellbeing would probably have a successful time of it.”

ArchDaily says indoor gardens can even reduce energy use and costs, since spaces with lots of vegetation often require less air circulation.

The right conditions for interior landscaping

Because plants are living things, adding an indoor garden isn’t as simple as installing a few long planters and calling it a day. These interior gardens – depending on the types of plants being grown and how they’re shown – require the right conditions to survive and thrive, including the right temperature, humidity, and natural light.

Anyone who has ever tended a houseplant located far from a window knows just how much plants need light to photosynthesize and grow. Without light, many plants go dormant and can even die. Some artificial and LED lights are great for plants, but an indoor garden should ideally have lots of natural light in a solarium-style room featuring large windows, skylights, and even curtain walls.

Humidity and temperature
Most interior gardens require temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of around 50 percent.

Design elements
It’s crucial to plan the right design elements for your interior garden. Consider proportion and scale (your plants should fit the size of the room), form (try to match the shape of your plants with one another), texture (try mixing smooth and coarse plant surfaces), color, repetition, and balance.

If there’s a special spot you’d like to designate as a focal point, try parking a large indoor plant or tree in the area. Just be cognizant of the amount of light it will need (large plants need lots of light).

Plant types
While many indoor gardens grow fruits and vegetables, most (especially in retail, commercial, and similar settings) are for aesthetic purposes. Common plants in these indoor gardens include the Spider Plant, Aloe Vera, Weeping Fig, and the Jade Plant.

Display methods
There are a ton of cool ways to present your indoor garden. Ultimately, the type of display methods you use depends on the room’s style and amount of available space, your budget, and how much of a visual splash you’re willing to make:

  • Raised beds
  • Tiered planters
  • Separate pots
  • Walled, elevated, and sunken gardens

The right kind of windows for indoor gardens

While we all know natural light is great for indoor gardens, placing windows and skylights for the best light conditions can sometimes be tricky – especially if you would like to include a wide variety of plants in your indoor garden.

While it’s a given that south-facing windows provide the best light and east-facing windows provide morning sun, which direction your skylights and windows should face depends on your requirements:

  • South-facing skylights and windows provide a large amount of direct sunlight (good for plants that need lots of light)
  • North-facing skylights and windows give indirect and diffused light (good for plants that don’t need as much light)
  • East/west facing skylights and windows provide bright, direct light in the morning (east) or late afternoon (west) and indirect light the rest of the day (best for plants that need a mix of direct and indirect light)

Also consider the type of glass and glazing you require when specifying your windows, skylights or curtain walls.

Some glazing types allow more light than others: While double clear glass windows allow up to 80 percent of light to pass through (with the rest being reflected), 25 mm 5-wall polycarbonate only allows up to 50 percent of light to pass through.

Unicel Architectural glass and glazing products can help facilitate your interior landscaping ideas become reality

Unicel Architectural’s wide range of glass and glazing products include skylights, curtain walls, solariums, and windows for maximum natural daylighting benefits. All glass and glazing products can be operable and equipped with our Vision Control® patented insulating glass with integrated, cord-free louver technology, allowing for unparallelled control of temperature, humidity, and light.

Contact us today to learn more about our skylight and curtain wall systems.

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