Keep it Cool with Living Walls

Keeping your residents and tenants cool in the summer heat isn’t easy, especially in the city, but thankfully there are ways to keep cool when the heat is on!

Urban Island

It isn’t just your imagination. It really is hotter in the city than in the country during the summer months. The reason? Something called the urban heat island. Essentially large urban areas are warmer than the surrounding rural areas because of the human development. In a city all the concrete buildings and asphalt roads hold and retain heat more than the grass, fields, and forests of the country.

Without trees and other vegetation cities also lack natural shade and have a diminished capacity for evapotranspiration (the movement of water from the ground through plants and into the atmosphere) which helps regulate temperature.

More buildings also mean more surfaces to reflect and absorb sunlight, in what is known as the ‘urban canyon effect.’
Southern Ontario is one of the most populated areas in North America. To mitigate the ‘urban island’ effect there are some basic landscaping steps that you should be taking.

1) Living Walls

What if there was a way to bring the country into the city, to convert those hot, reflecting concrete surfaces into an oasis in the middle of the city? There is and it is called a living wall.

At one time living walls seemed like nothing more than a futuristic fad, but they have gone mainstream and are springing up all over the world.

Living walls are vertical gardens attached to interior or exterior walls. They are usually built using a frame, waterproof panels, a hydroponics system, and plants. For interior living walls you may also need lights to help the plants grow.

The entire system is tightly installed in front of a pre-existing foundation to ensure that the underlying wall is not damaged, and that the living wall is securely attached.

Garden Grove Landscaping are experts in landscape management and can design, install and maintain a living wall system in your commercial setting.

2) Green façades

You may not have heard the term ‘green façade’ before, but chances are that you have seen them. A green façade has a soil base at the bottom of the wall from which a plant grows upwards along the side of a building or on a specially designed lattice. Ivy walls are the best example of green facades, and although they are different from living walls they too can help absorb heat. Green facades and living walls both provide the perfect accent to your space, bringing a fresh, natural look to your property.

3) Trees and shade-providing plants

Planting large trees around your property is another fantastic way to avoid the heat. Trees provide shaded areas which can be up to 14°C cooler than nearby sunny areas according to Hydro One.

Trees, like living walls, green facades, and healthy lawns remove airborne contaminants and produce oxygen, which will help keep your residents and tenants healthy. Plus, they help heat escape through evapotranspiration, naturally cooling the air. Unlike concrete, asphalt, rock, or brick, trees (and other plants) won’t retain or reflect heat. In fact, they help dissipate it.

4) Lawns

Nothing beats walking barefoot through a cool, thick lawn in the summer heat as a kid, but the benefits of turf go much further than that. Lawns absorb heat, scatter light and UV rays, and cool the area through evapotranspiration. According to the, “roughly 50% of the sun’s heat striking the turf may be eliminated through this transpiration cooling process.” This means that turf can be more than 10°C cooler than asphalt. Spread over a larger area, the Lawn Institute says that eight average lawns are the equivalent to 70 tonnes of air conditioning.

Cool your property with landscaping

By naturally cooling your property with plants you reduce the need for energy-hungry A/C units and fans, while making a strong statement about your environmentally-friendly values.

Attractive and low maintenance, plants naturalize urban environments for patrons and employees. Biophilia hypothesis is a term that suggests humans seek out natural surroundings and feel more comfortable around plants and greenery. The London Free Press references studies that suggest “in addition to reducing sick building syndrome, plants also increase our concentration, make us more productive and reduce absenteeism in the workplace.” In addition to this, living walls, trees, and lawns, act as a sound barrier from outside noise and increase interest and property value.

Whether in the suburbs or in the heart of the city, landscaping is a beautiful, practical solution to summer heat and smog. Contact Garden Grove Landscaping to discuss how to incorporate an innovative living wall or other natural cooling solution into your landscape.


  1. David_Lammers

    Written by David Lammers

    David Lammers is the president of Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. David may be contacted at or 1-866-996-1099.