Six Ways To Scrub Your Air


What’s better than the gift of clean air? Thanks to her unique skills in green building and regenerative design, Amanda Goldberg of Planted Design has the air quality thing down, so breathe easy. Learn more about her vertical gardens, also available for rent, and innovative ideas that combine beauty with healthier air, inside and out.

Did you know? 70% of the detoxing our bodies need is supplied by breathing (perspiration provides 20%). And yet, dangerous volatile organic compounds released by carpets, copiers, and most any synthetic item in our lives rob us of clean air daily!

“People often don’t think about the VOC gases given off by fresh paint, flooring, carpet and cleaning products,” says Amanda. “More people in a room also raise carbon dioxide levels. Too much CO2 makes us sleepy and causes headaches, nausea and sickness.”

With all those hazardous compounds and carbon dioxide hanging around, Amanda creates living walls that work hard to remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxins from the home and workplace. Thanks to photosynthesis, plants also replace toxins with vital oxygen.
Amanda’s top plant picks for healthier indoor air

1. Peace Lily
2. Spider Plant
3. Snake Plant
4. Philodendron
5. Orchid
6. Pothos

Amanda created her first vertical garden while working for Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, helping companies such as Aveda design products for a sustainable economy. Last March, she “took a leap” and started her own business bringing walls to life. She started with an 8×4-foot mobile vertical garden for the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA, then installed it in her client’s office in Palo Alto, CA.

Pothos Vertical Garden for Go Raw by Amanda Goldberg Planted Design.
Pothos Vertical Garden for Go Raw by Amanda Goldberg, Planted Design.

Now her creativity knows no bounds. With her unique custom portable gardens, Amanda is tapping into, and ramping up, the market for living wall rentals – weddings, conferences, photo booths and more. Because these gardens need backlighting, company logos and other special touches, Amanda turns to a whole community of artisans to bring out the best in her projects. As a ceramic artist and industrial designer who created a “living desk” for her college thesis, perhaps it’s only natural. “I enjoy the collaborative spirit. It inspires and invigorates me,” she says.

Partners in design: Amanda and Brandon Pruett from Living Green Design co-created this living wall in San Francisco’s Mission District, turning a sterile heat island into a thriving green oasis.

Brandon Pruett. Amanda Goldberg, Planted Design. Florafelt Pro System.
Brandon Pruett. Amanda Goldberg, Planted Design. Florafelt Pro System.
Root Wrapping Volunteers on a San Francisco Rooftop. Planted Design. Florafelt Pro System.
Root Wrapping Volunteers on a San Francisco Rooftop. Planted Design. Florafelt Pro System.

Amanda says she’s happy with the ease and flexibility of Plants On Walls‘ Florafelt system. “You can put plants in, then exchange them for a different aesthetic as your style changes.”

How much is enough? For a 1,800 square foot house, a NASA study recommends 15 to 18 good-sized plants that clean the air and give off oxygen.

Amanda Goldberg. Planted Design.
Amanda Goldberg. Planted Design.

Exploring Color and Contrast

Monet would be proud. Living Green Design is a noted San Francisco firm that, in their words, “takes a unique approach to garden design that crosses borders, styles and trends.” Their folks believe strongly that interior design, plantscapes and style should all connect to the exterior garden seamlessly. A vertical garden was an ideal way to incorporate this concept of unified indoor and outdoor living.

Davis Dalbok, founder and principal designer, and Brandon Pruett, who specializes in creating multi-dimensional vertical living walls, installed a large, 20×10-foot vertical garden at their San Francisco showroom.

Davis Dalbok, Brandon Pruett. Living Green Design Showroom.
Davis Dalbok, Brandon Pruett. Living Green Design Showroom.

They filled the Florafelt system with a vibrant textural feast of ferns, grasses, yellow oxalis and even trees − Japanese maple!

Oxalis is especially versatile when “painting” a vertical garden: besides yellow, the profuse flowers are available in pink, purple and white, and their foliage adds even more color and texture: chartreuse, purple, maroon, silver, purple-black, speckled combos and more.

Davis Dalbok, Brandon Pruett. Living Green Design Showroom.
Davis Dalbok, Brandon Pruett. Living Green Design Showroom.

Oxalis also thrives in part shade and likes well-drained, moist soil. Reliable up to zone 5, the plants can be treated as perennials in warmer climes; they’ll need overwintering inside if grown in climates like the Midwest, or they can be treated as annuals.

Davis says the garden is a hit. “When clients enter, they are so impressed by the diversity of plant material, and the sheer scale, that they almost always begin to figure out how they might incorporate something similar into their home or office. Most of the ambient natural light comes from skylights above, so this garden provides the perfect opportunity to ‘zone’ the placement of plants in the overall design, demonstrating how one can achieve a successful installation by addressing all of the particulars.”

Davis Dalbok, Living Green Design. Decorator Showcase 2013.
Davis Dalbok, Brandon Pruett, Living Green Design. Decorator Showcase 2013.

Plant materials for their showroom were repurposed from the 2013 Decorator Showcase in Pacific Heights San Francisco. Birds of prey was the title of this exhibition that featured grasses and conifers, maples and ferns.

All plants which are not typical to vertical gardening but were a total transformation of this enclosed space to a lush landscape of lore.

The Living Green team continues to delight and amaze with their unique vision that delivers an experience to be remembered.

Birds Of Prey Vertical Garden

Davis Dalbok of San Francisco’s over-the-top garden design group Living Green created a stunning masterpiece for the 2013 Decorators Showcase. Entitled ‘Birds Of Prey’ the walls were filled with grasses, conifers, and Maples to frame fine Japanese works of art also displayed in the outdoor courtyard.

Florafelt Vertical Garden. Decor Showcase 2013. Design by Living Green.
Florafelt Vertical Garden. Decor Showcase 2013. Design by Living Green.

Dalbok and team worked closely with Chris Bribach of Plants On Walls to incorporate his Florafelt vertical garden system. The space create a ‘living room’ as well as a partition to screen the neighbors.

Park(ing) Day Vertical Garden

Before the time of parklets, Parking Day was a way to express parking spots as mini parks, for a day. Mike Leon asked Chris Bribach to bring his early Florafelt vertical garden prototypes for an outdoor street side display. The framed panels were supported by a temporary metal structure and filled with hearty shrubs.