02. Topics:

Urban Greening - What is it?

Planting for Urban Greening

London and major towns and cities are facing a challenge. Bringing plants back where construction and high rates of urban growth have removed valuable eco-systems is key to creating sustainable comfortable cities, we understand the eco-systems challenges that face our built environment and can support our clients to incorporate sustainable solutions for healthy happy urban centres.

Our team offers a range of intelligent greening solutions to support the greening of the built environment. From living walls, living pillars, green streets, Flex MSE (sustainable retaining walls) to green roofs our product range and horticultural knowledge can support businesses to bring improvements to their destinations, meeting the demand for increased green infrastructure and sustainable healthy cities. Innovative Green Infrastructure supports wayfinding, placemaking, public realm improvements and biodiversity in our valued spaces.

Motcomb Street Belgravia Urban Greening
Motcomb Street Belgravia Urban Greening
Motcomb street planting
Motcomb street planting

Why do we need more Urban Greening?

The environmental challenges faced by towns and cities

It is estimated that by 2030 more than 70 % of the worlds population will live in cities. In London alone it is said that by 2050 the population of London will increase by a further 3 million. Integrating green into cities has never been more urgent. Retrofitting existing urban infrastructure and specifying new green infrastructure at the outset is covered in the Mayor's London Plan, guiding businesses and designers towards policies to make necessary changes.

The environmental challenges faced by cities include:

Air quality

Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban biodiversity


Climate events (flooding and heat waves)

Urban greening forms an important part of the sustainability puzzle in terms of mitigating these challenges, whilst making cities far more human spaces to live and work, supporting urban lifestyles as the population grows.

How can plants help?


Plants, however they are incorporated into the built environment, in the high aesthetic of the living wall to the humble weed finding a root hold in a pavement or brick wall, have value.

Hairy, waxy, sticky plants trap particulate matter in the air. Particulates in the air known as 'PM' are graded in terms of size, ranging from PM10 to even more microscopic PM2.5 and PM 1. These tiny particles generated from transport, construction and fossil fuels can have serious impact on health, the ability of plants to trap particulate matter is well documented, as responsible landscapers or 'urban greeners' it is our duty to incorporate the correct horticultural content in projects to optimise the benefits that plants can bring.

What poor air quality means for our health?

It is estimated that 40,000 early deaths are recorded annually in the UK owning to poor air quality - which exacerbates lung conditions, heart health and asthma.

9,400 early deaths annually are recorded in London alone.

Plants for interior air quality

Urban greening includes making interior air quality better for the army of office based workers in the UK and beyond. Nasa has produced research which identifies the best plants to use in interior projects, here are the top ten:

Which gases do these plants help to remove?

Based on research the volume of plants specified is crucial to bring genuine benefit to the productivity and happiness of the office based population, plants when specified with other biophilic design principles including natural light and natural materials bring proven productivity benefits which ultimately have a very positive impact on the economic bottom line for companies. The Well Building Standard is a metric which has been designed in the US and is now well known in the UK. Research and analysis of buildings adopting this benchmark practice has proven the very positive outcomes from integrating biophilic design. Find out more here

Salesforce boardroom planting with living walls
Corporate client boardroom interior landscaping design and installation from Smartscape team

Living Walls to trap Particulate Matter

This 76m2 living wall has been installed as part of a series of interventions that are part of the Borough High Street Low Emission Neighbourhood initiative led by Team London Bridge and Better Bankside, supported by the Mayor of London.

Interventions are located to highlight calm and healthy walking routes in the busy London Bridge and Bankside area and are complemented by initiatives to promote green business practices like reduced deliveries and clean vehicles.

Find out more here

Plants for Biodiversity

Correct horticultural content supports biodiversity. Choosing plants which deliver all year round forage for bugs and bees and good habitats for urban birds. Working with ecologists, our teams specify plants which 'work' hard. The pollinator living wall created with the charity Bug Life provides forage throughout the seasons.

To download our recommended plant lists for interior and exterior living walls click here

The Urban Greening Solutions

How we can help with Urban Greening Targets?

As part of Smartscape's ambitions to re-wild towns and cities our expert team are here to outline strategies and solutions to manage and enhance our urban areas. By promoting urban green space and features such as urban greening, street parks, green corridors, green roofs, living pillars, living walls, street trees and rain gardens we can provide benefits including; healthy living, enhanced character, flood mitigation, improved air quality, increased biodiversity and climate change resilience. High quality greening will assist your urban spaces to be more competitive and resilient.

Our teams can assist to:

  • Create and promote an ambitious, transformative, and extensive programme of green infrastructure implementation at all scales
  • Create and deliver highly distinctive green environment, delivering a very strong, positive image
  • Strengthen position in climate-change adaptation through landscape-led initiatives
  • Develop innovative approaches to integrating vegetation and biodiversity across the whole range of possible contexts
  • Encourage and support green infrastructure in new developments, and identify opportunities for retrofitting, wherever possible
  • Inform and deliver landscape management practices to embed sustainable use of resources and promotion of biodiversity, whilst maintaining the highest quality standards and aesthetic outcomes
Living Wall For Team London Bridge, Better Bankside and Mayor of London
The Orchard Lisle Living Wall for Team London Bridge

Our teams are here to help identifying potential locations for new green spaces and interventions to help achieve your greening ambitions. Our approach seeks to find innovative ways of integrating public open space, vegetation and biodiversity across the whole range of possible contexts.

We explore potential opportunities to provide:

  • New and enhanced areas of publicly accessible open space
  • Enhanced green corridors
  • Parklets and pocket gardens
  • Gateway spaces utilising edges and nodes within the streetscape
  • Interventions to green the building envelope and streetscape including pockets of attractive planting, living walls and water sensitive design features
  • Greening to aid wayfinding and develop distinct characters
Living Pillar at Ebury Street Belgravia for Grosvenor
Living Pillar at Ebury Street Belgravia for Grosvenor

For advice, guidance and installation contact the Smartscape team at enquiries@scotscape.co.uk or call us on 0208 254 5000

Or listen to our Urban Greening Podcast with 'The Green Urbanist' here:

Urban Greening podcast Living Walls Green Walls urban greening
The Urban Greening Podcast, with The Green Urbanist

Living Walls & Urban Greening

You hav successfully subscribed to our mailing list.