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Jakarta Post

Vertical gardens are latest fad in posh residences

Vertical gardens are latest fad in posh residences Lush view: Faik Fahmi trims his new vertical garden in the backyard of his house in South Jakarta. (JP/Indah Setiawati) (JP/Indah Setiawati)
Indah Setiawati
Jakarta   ●   Thu, March 27, 2014

Lush view: Faik Fahmi trims his new vertical garden in the backyard of his house in South Jakarta. (JP/Indah Setiawati)

Faik Fahmi, who lives on Jl. Ampera Raya in South Jakarta, enjoyed his backyard like never before after a large section of white, high wall surrounding his yard was transformed into a vertical garden three months ago.

'€œI didn'€™t like spending time in this back terrace as I couldn'€™t stand the heat. I felt stuck with the limited space here,'€ he told The Jakarta Post at his house over the weekend.

His house, on a 590-square-meter plot of land, has a backyard that consists of a terrace, a swimming pool, a gazebo and some small chunks of green grass consisting of decorative plants and a Tabebuia tree.

In search of the missing element in his new house, Fahmi remembered the many vertical gardens he saw in the public spaces of Tokyo and Osaka when he lived in Japan for seven years.

Fueled with the inspiration, he browsed the Internet and selected a professional provider.

He chose a vertical garden with an automatic irrigation system that allowed the soilless plants water and nutrition directly from a water tank and a bucket placed on the third floor of the house.

The system used an electric pump with a timer that was set for active every few hours.

'€œThis automatic system fits me well because I'€™m a busy person,'€ he said.

At first, he was concerned with the expense, but he never looked back after seeing the result in the 60-square-meter piece of wall.

'€œThe cost is probably equal to a secondhand Avanza car, but I am satisfied with the result. I want to have other sections of walls installed with a vertical garden too, but I will watch the progress of this first vertical garden first,'€ he said.

Fahmi is among a number of Jakartans who love the idea of greening space vertically to make amends for scarce, expensive land in the capital.

Sonny Gunawan, an owner of '€œV-ga'€ a vertical garden provider, said the number of his clients grew each year since he started the business in 2010.

Private residences took almost 50 percent of his work, which also included malls, restaurants and hotels.

'€œTo date, I have served 100 clients throughout the country, 85 percent of which are located in Jakarta. The biggest demand in the capital comes from clients with luxurious houses,'€ he told the Post, adding that in the first quarter of this year he had already received around 20 orders.

Vertical gardens usually see gardens placed on the wall.

He said vertical gardens were commonly divided into two styles, namely green façades and green walls.

In the green façade style, a special structure is attached to some parts of the building to support or carry the containers of the plants. The style is cheaper because it usually only has one kind of plant such as the popular Lee Kuan Yew plant, which is used to decorate the pillars of flyovers in the capital.

The green wall style, on the other hand, is much more expensive because it covers entire walls and usually uses an automatic irrigation system.

'€œThe irrigation system is the heart of my business. We even use complicated decoy pipes to protect the real installation,'€ Sonny said.

He said his company was developing a manual version of the green wall style that would dramatically reduce the high cost in order to cater for middle-class households that wanted to have a vertical garden in their houses.

Sonny'€™s automatic green wall costs Rp 2,250,000 (US$198). He expects to reduce the price by Rp 1 million for the manual green wall.

Meanwhile, Rizki Syahrazi of the Godong Ijo green garden contractor, said his company still focused on automatic vertical gardens priced between Rp 2 milllion to Rp 3 million.

'€œSeveral years ago, vertical gardens were exclusive to malls or hotels. However, we have seen rising demand from housing areas since the end of last year. It think people now have a better product knowledge,'€ he told the Post over the phone.

Last year alone, he said his company served 50 clients, mostly from high profile residential areas such as Pondok Indah and Permata Hijau in South Jakarta, Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta and Menteng in Central Jakarta.

Rizki said the clients had built a confidence in the vertical garden concept and usually asked for certain patterns or kinds of plants.