Passive house design

Passive house design

Passive house design has gained traction in Europe and is now starting to trend in Australia. This modern house design technique of building aims to create homes with higher energy efficiency and fewer costs long term.

Passive house design helps with the environment home

What is passive house design?

Passive house design, also known as ‘Passivhaus’ in German, is a method of design principles used by builders and architects to reduce or eliminate the need for supplementary or additional heating and cooling in your home. The average use of heating and cooling can account for 40% of the energy usage in your home, followed by appliances at 33%.

A home with passive design will be low-energy. It aims to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. In turn, it can also save you on energy costs.

How does passive design work for a home?

Passive design uses natural sources of heating and cooling to meet the needs of your home. An example of this would be to take advantage of the sun during cold weather or a cool breeze during hot weather.

There’s no one way to do passive house design. You’ll need to consider a few factors like the position of your home including roof, walls, windows, and floors. The other element which impacts this is climate. Although Australia is typically hot during summer months, in some areas, the weather may change. In Queensland, tropical storms can affect building design, whereas colder temperatures impact a home in Melbourne in winter. Your proximity to the ocean may also interfere with weather patterns and your house design.

By being aware of your surroundings and how the sun or wind changes throughout the year, you can help minimise unwanted heat gain and loss, creating a more comfortable home environment.

Passive house design principles

If modern house design trends inspire you, passive house design is something you don’t want to overlook.

According to Australian Passive House Association, there are five principles for passive house design.

1. Insulation

Insulation is seen as a barrier to heat flow and improves comfortability. It’s vital to keep the heat in your home during winter and out or limited in summer. Adding insulation to your modern house design can also help to waterproof and soundproof your home, and is best done at the time of construction. However, insulation can still be done later where appropriate.

2. Windows

You wouldn’t leave an air con with the door open, but your home could still be losing its natural heating and cooling less visibly. If you seal your windows, you can stop these air leaks. This sealing is essential if you live in an area prone to drastic changes in temperature. The best option is to use low-emission double or triple glazing with thermal broken or non-metal frames. The windows should be in a position that makes the most of the sun movements all year round.

3. Ventilation

Air is good for us! However, by opening windows or doors you can expose yourself to noise, dirt or other pollutants. To prevent this and to keep your home cold and warm when needed, a mechanical ventilation unit could be useful. This unit recovers heat and coolth, while also filtering the air coming into your home. And you’ll still enjoy the added privacy you need.

4. Airtightness

Airtightness is an essential part of passive house design. This technique helps to ensure that there’s only a limited amount of gaps and cracks in your home, giving you better thermal control and no draughts.

5. Construction

When constructing your passive home, you need to be aware that insulation thickness is significant, but so is the continuous elements of the insulation around. Similar to an envelope, if there’s one side not sealed, things may fall out, or the gap may get bigger. You should consider using materials that will absorb and store heat energy like the use of concrete, bricks, and tiles. These materials have high heat storage capacity, compared to the likes of timber which has lower levels.

How to build a passive house?

If you are looking to build a passive house, you can speak to an architect or builder about your options. Economically, passive house design is best suited for a new home or during the construction phase. That said, depending on your needs and budget, you can still make changes in your home that follow these principles.

See a farm-house inspired passive house design project

Passive house on a budget

Modern house design passive design home

If you already own your home or want to reduce your heating and cooling bills, applying some of the principles and techniques of passive house design can still be possible and rewarding.

1. Add shade

Adding shading to your house and outdoor spaces can reduce heat in your home during colder months, improve comfortability and help reduce your energy costs. You can use eaves, window awnings, green walls and shutters to block unwanted heat.

2. Solar heating

Instead of relying on traditional energy sources from the grid-like coal, opt-in for solar heating. Using the power of the sun is a least expensive option to heat your home. And at the same time, you’ll live by the passive house design philosophy to reduce your impact on the environment.

3. Replace windows

Have old windows or ones with gaps? Consider replacing them with double or triple-glazed versions. Also look at old glass doors, which may be letting heat escape when you need it during winter.

4. Draught proof

A common place where heat escapes is through the door. A quick fix for this is to add a rolled towel or buy a door snake. You may also consider sealants or a frame to help close other gaps around the area.

Modern house design

If you are looking to reduce sound in your place or want to transform it, check out our vertical gardens and green walls here.

Up next: 16 ways to keep warm in your home

Your guide to UV treated artificial plants

Your guide to UV treated artificial plants

In this guide we will take a look at the options you have for UV treated artificial plants, exploring the different types of UV artificial plants out there plus how to add UV protection spray for artificial plants not covered, to ensure your greenery is safe from the sun!

UV treated artificial plants

UV treated artificial plants

Artificial plants have developed over time. These days you can purchase realistic fake plants that are like real alternatives. New trends like the demand to have your plants protected from the sun have led to new UV artificial plants ranges popping up. But don’t be fooled, there are some key differences when it comes to choosing your UV resistant outdoor plants.

Types of UV resistant outdoor plants

Looking to purchase outdoors plants? Be aware of the different options.

1. UV protection made within the foliage

This is the best form of sun safe protection for your fake plants. It means that the UV protection was inserted and blended within the materials of your green wall or greenery. As such, it has a stronger chance to handle the sun, preventing fading and cracking from occurring.

It’s difficult to spot if your UV treated artificial plants use this technology. Ask the seller if their plants are sprayed with UV protection or whether they do this in production within the individual layers of the plant. If the hedge or artificial green item sounds too good to be true or is cheaper than other UV resistant outdoor plants in the market, you may want to think twice about purchasing from that seller. It may be best to also ask for proof of the protection, with independent UV protection tests to support the longevity argument.

At Designer Plants, our UV resistant range of green walls and plants are shown in the product names or in the UV resistant category. We use this ‘in foliage’ method of UV protection for artificial plants because we know it’s the best way you can stop your plant from changing colour, due to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and temperatures.

You’ll also have confidence in your UV artificial plants protection, as we back this range with our no fade and crack 5 year guarantee. That said, we know our green plants and walls last longer than this, as demonstrated by our own director’s green wall that has stayed green for more than 9 years!

UV treated artificial plants and green wall

2. UV protection spray for plants

Another way in which artificial plant sellers can say their plants are UV treated artificial plants is by using a sealant or UV protection spray. This means the protection layer is applied on the outside of the leaf, not inside the materials.

A UV protection spray can provide temporary protection to your plants. The spray will need to be applied every 6 months or on a need by need basis.

There are several UV protection sprays on the market. We recommend using non-toxic and environmentally friendly materials when it comes to selecting a UV protection spray for plants.

3. Non UV treated artificial plants

Surprisingly there are outdoor artificial plants sold by other fake plant sellers that claim to be UV protected but when tested, may not actually deliver the benefit.

There are also outdoor artificial plants that you can purchase who claim that there is no UV protection. However, it’s worth looking into some form of UV protection – especially if you want your green wall or fake plant to remain green.

INFOGRAPHIC: 3 types of outdoor artificial plants

UV protection 3 types of outdoor plants

How to prolong the life of your green fake plants?

You purchased your greenery because you imagined it would remain green. However, without sun safe protection for your plants, the colours of the leaves are likely to fade, crack or change colour.

In Australia, our climate conditions can be quite hot – our weather patterns may change rapidly. For this reason, it’s definitely worth considering adding UV treated artificial plants to your space or finding a good UV protection spray.

There’s also a chance your plants may need some love. For indoor plants or those which collect any dust check out our how to clean your fake plants tips here.

Can you use UV protection spray on indoor plants?

Yes, you can use UV protection spray for indoor plants. This would be recommended if your inside plants are near a window or get sunlight. When applying UV protection spray be sure to read the instructions carefully. You may need to take your plant outside to apply the spray. Also, be sure to clean any utensils or tools you use to protect the indoor plant.

Benefits of UV treated artificial plants

We hope it’s clear why UV treated artificial plants are a worthwhile investment. Here is a list of some of the benefits you can enjoy:

  • Plants stay green all year round.
  • No yellowing of leaves or greenery.
  • Prevents your fake plants from fading.
  • Stops your artificial plants from cracking due to heat.
  • Some UV protection may help to minimise dust.

Read more: 13 questions you asked about vertical gardens

16 ways to keep warm in your home

16 ways to keep warm in your home

Even with the heat still around, sooner than you think autumn and winter will take over. Have you given any thought to how you will keep warm in your home other than reaching for your winter woollies especially if you live in a home that has poor insulation?

Here are our favourites for enjoying our home space when it’s cold and rainy outside.

Top tips to keep warm this winter

1. Wear more garments: Put on additional clothes. Warm socks and a cosy jumper will help you keep out the chill and won’t incur expensive electricity costs.

2. Rug up: Cover your legs with a handy blanket. It will keep you warm on the outside while you warm up the inside with a hot drink.

3. Huddle with your family: Sit closer together when watching a movie to make the most of body heat. If you have pets invite them onto your lap (unless they are too large) to add to the warm cuddle.

4. Crank up the fire: If you have an open fireplace make use of it on colder days to keep nice and warm. When not in use, close it to stop heat escaping up the open chimney.

5. Make sure the floor is covered: Floor coverings help keep warmth in your home, you can lose up to 10% of heat via the floor if it is not insulated. If you have bare boards, lay down rugs in the winter to keep your home warmer.

warm your home in winter with a warm rug

6. More than one layer: Add an extra layer to your curtains in autumn and winter to keep in more heat. Attach it to the back or your curtains or hang it from the actual rod itself to insulate the area at night.

7. Maximise daylight: Sunlight contributes natural heat to your home so keep curtains open during the day to make the most of this natural resource. Close them at night to keep warm in your home.

8. Fill the gaps: Are there places in your home that ‘leak’ heat when it’s cold? Search them out and fill them to improve your homes ability to retain heat. Think laterally and look at things like keyholes, under doors etc that can be filled temporarily in chilly weather. You could even use a green wall or plants to cover these gaps.

9. Bedding down for the night: We all love to retire to bed on a cold night but hate diving into an icy space. Add flannelette sheets, an electric blanket or a trusty hot water bottle for that extra warmth.

10. Wall coverings: Did you know that adding coverings to your walls, especially external walls, can improve overall insulation by raising the internal wall surface temperature? And every little bit counts. Use pictures or mirrors, posters or furniture like bookshelves with the books providing additional insulation.

11. Stylish screens: Position screens in your key living areas to keep the warmth around you and stop it disappearing into unused portions of the room. Remember that a screen will be at room temperature and help keep your back warm if it is behind you.

12. Furniture placement: External walls are usually cooler than internal ones. Position your furniture near internal walls to maximise the rooms heat.

13. Insulate your windows: Buy a DIY window insulation kit to reduce the loss of heat through and around your windows. Easy to install and will make a big difference to your heating bill.

14. Close the doors: Closing doors to the rooms not being used can reduce heat loss and help keep the main rooms being used warm.

15. Check your heating vents: Are they clean? Is air flowing freely when your heating is on? Make sure they are working properly and are free of obstructions.

check heating vents to keep warm in your home

16. Venting drafts: Make sure that bathroom vents have draught blockers installed so that cold air doesn’t blow back into your home.

Plan ahead for autumn and winter

Audit your home before the cold weather arrives and make a plan. Locate and plug draughts (this will help in the summer as well) and decide what other measures you can easily implement to keep warm in your home when autumn and winter arrive.

Up next: Add more space to your home

13 questions you asked about artificial vertical gardens

13 questions you asked about artificial vertical gardens

Homeowners are always looking for the next best thing. It’s one of the reasons we’ve fallen in love with home renovation shows like The Block and House Rules. However, what is achievable for a reality show may not be the same in real life (we don’t all have lots of time and unlimited budgets!). And that’s one of the reasons why artificial vertical gardens have taken off. Achieving a vertical garden with real plants can take a lot of time, energy and effort. So, faux is definitely trending. But where do you start?

Artificial Vertical Garden: Top questions

questions you asked about vertical gardens

We’ve prepared a list of some of the top questions you asked us about our artificial vertical garden range, and our answers to help you make the right choice for your space.

1. What can I do with a kitchen window that looks onto a fence?

A glass (window) splashback is a key feature of any home, so greater thought must go into designing the area, as you and your guests will regularly look out from this area of your home.

We suggest that a premium panel such as the white oasis or select range are used as this gives you fantastic depth and variation to your green wall and will make it the envy of your friends.

2. My neighbours look into my yard, how can I fix this?

Creating privacy is often easier than you’d think. One super quick option is to get a 2m hedge and put it into a planter. If you want greater height you can add a tall pot and some bricks inside so the hedge sits on that. The other option is to get a timber trellis fence extension then simply staple a green wall panel onto this.

When adjusting fencing heights, or balcony railings please check to ensure this complies with council and building regulations.

3. Are all fake vertical gardens the same?

Absolutely not! Generally speaking, fake green walls come in a few variations from a quality perspective. However, you can be easily fooled as they may all look the same, to begin with.

Non UV Green Walls – these are simply straight plastic formed into a leaf with various colours. These will become brittle and fall apart when exposed to the sun (however they will look 99% the same as UV engineered panels.

UV treated panels – these are effectively non UV panels with a UV spray over the top. These will often be 20% – 40% cheaper than a fully UV engineered panel. However, you will need to re-apply the spray as it will come off in the rain and heat over time.

UV engineered panels (these are what we sell at Designer Plants). These have the UV protectant within the plastic, to ensure it doesn’t wash off. This allows your plants to last longer. Our plants have been tested for Australian weather standards.

UV Engineered panels with fire protectant added: these are our select range panels which have an additional additive included to reduce flame spread to 0. Please note that one should ensure all products are independently considered with respect to suitability for safety, fencing, fire and building requirements by an approved expert.

4. How can I quickly cover up a drab looking wall?

Typically, attaching green walls can take a matter of hours. For example, a 3m x 3m wall onto timber may take 3 hours or so to complete. These are really easy and quick to set up!

5. What is the most popular green wall panel?

Please see our blog on the top 9 greenery panels.

6. Do I need to cover an entire wall or fence with a vertical garden or just a section?

This is a great question and one which really depends on your circumstances. Often if you are after a wow effect we would suggest covering an entire area. However, if you love the look of timber panels, you can mix them together.

7. I want the outdoors inside – how can I do this?

Our green wall disks are perfect for this as they are easy to attach and look like a masterpiece by themselves and don’t require any framing. Alternatively, you may consider using two panels and then build a timber frame around it so that it looks like a hand curated piece of art.

vertical garden green wall disk

8. Do I need to get rid of my live plants or can I use both live and fake plants?

Definitely not! We actually recommend mixing the two. One of the key benefits of green walls is that they can provide greenery where live plants can’t grow, or where they will regularly die. For example, some clients have put a green wall up on a fence in front of a splashback then attached some wall hanging pots to grow herbs. Other times people have used the green walls as a great backdrop to tall plants such as cypress so that they don’t need to look at a drab old fence.

9. What do I need to do to keep a fake vertical garden looking great?

Not much at all! We would suggest giving your faux greenery a wash every few months with a hose or similar. You may also wish to add some UV protectant spray to prolong the life of the plants for even longer (not necessarily required though).

10. How long have you been operating for?

We started off as a small family business around 10 years ago, and have since grown to be one of the largest distributors of green walls with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, the Central Coast and agents in QLD, SA, and WA.

11. How much do artificial vertical gardens cost?

Transforming your home doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands on knocking out walls or doors. You could uplift your space in a matter of minutes with a high quality faux green wall.

Our artificial vertical gardens start at $79.95 for a 1 meter panel and are easy to install. When looking at the cost of faux vertical gardens, it’s important to consider the time and saving you get with the plants not requiring any soil, fertiliser, trimming or water treatment on a regular basis.

12. How do I install a vertical garden?

Visit our useful guide to install your artificial green wall.

13. What plants are suitable for small spaces?

Even if your home or apartment is small, faux greenery can still be the answer. Consider creating your own plant pot with our fake plant’s range. Or make a statement with our green walls disks. The disks are a beautiful feature on a table or on a wall.

Need further help?

Got a question not answered here or maybe you need a helping hand? Our team of design consultants is here to help. Contact us and book your free design consultation.

9 ways to add more space to your home

9 ways to add more space to your home

If you are from a metropolitan area or live in an estate that is expensive, you know that space is a luxury one can’t always afford. The good news is you can add more space to your home, even if you’re not on the largest block. We share some great tips to create the illusion of space even in the smallest of rooms.

How to create space in a small house or room?

1. Move furniture away from walls

Typically we move our furniture close to walls. But for many pieces of furniture this isn’t necessary and in fact, takes away precious space.

By moving furniture away from a wall, you can add more space to your home. As an example, move the couch away from the walls far enough that a person can easily pass behind it, and enjoy the feel of a larger room.

2. Declutter your space

There comes a time in a homeowners life that they have to let go of things. If you are a hoarder or say to yourself “but I’ll need it one day” this could be a sign you need to clean up your act.

By sorting out what you actually need or want in your space, you can feel less cluttered and overwhelmed. Start by grabbing a few bags or boxes and sort your items to keep, give away or throw out. Rehome things you never look at or interact with. Be strict and only keep things that go with your space today and you actually need!

3. Get a display cabinet

Got hundreds of trophies lying around or perhaps some plates gifted to you? If you want to keep your collectibles together, why not display them in a cabinet. By adding a glass or wooden display cabinet, you can add space from the ground up in your home. Plus reduce that cluttered feeling of having things spread about in the room.

4. Invest in multipurpose furniture

These days furniture has evolved. You can purchase a shelf that becomes a bed or a lounge chair that has storage. Look at buying pieces of furniture that can perform more than one function.

Rehome any furniture that does not go with your home decor.

5. Paint the room with even tones

Colour can change everything. If you use even tones, compared to contrasts – this can create the illusion of a bigger space.

6. Add storage solutions

Sometimes rooms can appear smaller when they are messy or have too much going on. If you purchase or find some modern storage solutions, you can add more space to your home.

Don’t forget about those other areas you can store items you don’t need every day. Add items under the bed or beneath a bookshelf to make the most of your space.

7. Think open plan

If you can’t knock out a wall or add a home extension, consider other ways you can make your space appear larger.

Remove barriers or furniture that create walls within your home’s layout. This can create the illusion of more space.

8. Bring the outside indoors

You can extend a space by opening it up to other areas. By installing a wide glass window or removing curtains, you can create the effect a space is larger than it is by drawing a person’s attention away from the first space itself.

Remember to double glaze the windows to keep the temperature under control in the home.

9. Less is more

The more furniture you have, the more your space can look smaller. Remove unnecessary items or duplicates from your home.

You could also consider ripping up carpet if you have hardwood floors. This can often make the space seem much larger than it is.

Read more: Style your home on a low budget

DIY storage ideas for small spaces

diy space ideas for your home

Add more space to your home with these nifty ideas. If your not into do it yourself projects, you may be able to find this furniture at a local store or online.

Use shoe boxes to store bathroom goods away

Your bathroom cupboards can get messy. Organise your toiletries with old shoe boxes or plastic containers. You’ll be surprised how it can add more room to your bathroom. If you don’t have cupboards, you can consider adding a lightweight shelf.

Utilise your travel suitcases

Unless you travel every week it is likely your travel suitcases are empty. Make the most of the space by storing items in them until you go away. Add a space saving bag in the case, for when you need to transfer the goods when you go away.

Add a floating bedside table or shelf

Floating shelves or draws can create an effect that there is more space in your home. You can purchase wooden pieces or other materials from a local hardware store and assemble this yourself. Or purchase one already made for you.

Use old plastic bottles to create stationary organisers

Cut a plastic bottle in the middle and use the bottom to store pens and pencils or other stationary. The new containers may also be useful for your bathroom to hold toothbrushes and are easier to clean than some other bathroom item holders.

Add old drawers under the bed

Throwing out an old cupboard or spotted some random drawers on the street curb? You could turn these into space saving solutions for your home. Add cards, shoes or other items to the drawers. This is ideal for carpet floors. If you have wooden floorboards or tiles, consider adding felt to the edges to ensure no scratches.

Transform an art canvas into a jewellery holder

Grab some hooks or pins and place these on the canvas to hold your jewellery items or other small goods. You could even turn the art canvas into a hallway piece of art, where you store house keys and your weekly shopping list. Take the canvas one step further by placing an art piece over the top as a cover. Now your storage solution looks like only a painting, which makes your space look minimal and less cluttered.

Up next: Green Walls – space inspiration

How to clean or maintain an artificial green wall?

How to clean or maintain an artificial green wall?

If you’ve installed an artificial green wall recently or want to learn more about their maintenance, before you purchase one – read up on what you need to clean or maintain for your new faux green wall. After all, the more love and care you give your space, the longer it lasts.

Low maintenance green wall

steps to clean a green wall

The beauty of having an artificial green wall over a living wall is that its low maintenance. In fact, it’s so close to not needing any help, that we often refer to the range as zero maintenance.

Your artificial greenery will not need sunlight, soil, fertiliser or even trimming. Regular care will be a thing of the past. Of course, you can always add a living feature to your faux wall, which may mean this changes your routine. The option is yours to make and depends on what you need or prefer.

Read more: Artificial VS. Real Green Walls

Silk plants VS. Plastic plants

There are two main types of materials when it comes to an artificial green wall. There are silk and plastic plants.

For silk plants, you are not advised to get them wet as this will damage them. So if you have a fake plant or green wall of this variety, be sure not to put liquids on them. You can, however, use a duster or dry cloth to wipe them down.

As for plastic plants, this type of green wall material we prefer here at Designer Plants for its strength and durability. You can use water to clean plastic faux plants. We provide further detail on this later in the post.

How to clean an artificial green wall?

This guide is for those with plastic plants. Silk plants should use a cloth or duster, as they are not designed to be wet.

To kickstart your garden wall cleaning, you’ll need a few supplies including:

  • Feather duster
  • Dry cloth
  • Small bowl or bucket of warm water
  • Bottle of window cleaner / multi-purpose cleaner spray

Step 1: Dust your plants

Alike real plants, artificial green walls can collect dust. Depending on where your plant lives, the volume of dust will vary. Often if a plant is inside or near sunlight, it will collect more dust than usual.

Using the feather duster, lightly dust your green wall leaves and stems. Be careful not to break the plastic stems on your artificial wall.

Step 2: Spray your plants with window cleaner or a multi-purpose spray

After you’ve used the feather duster, spray the plants and green wall with a non-abrasive window cleaner or multi-purpose spray. An eco-friendly option like Earth Choice may be suitable for this.

If your plant or fake green wall is UV stabilised or resistant, leave the plant out in the sun for a few minutes. If not, let the wall dry for a few minutes inside.

Step 3: Wash your green wall with water or a shower head

After 10-15 minutes, remove the cleaning product from your plants using the warm water from your bowl or alternatively with a shower head from your bathroom.

If your plant or green wall contains flowers or is delicate in nature, you could try using a wet cloth or paint brush to clean it.

Step 4: Wipe your plants with a dry cloth

clean an artificial or fake plant

After rinsing out the cleaning product from your artificial green wall, finalise your cleaning by grabbing a dry cloth and wiping over the stems and leaves.

After this, your plant or green wall will be as good as new.

INFOGRAPHIC: Steps to clean your artificial green wall

INFOGRAPHIC: How to clean an artificial green wall

8 key considerations for a shop fit out

8 key considerations for a shop fit out

When fitting out your business you want to ensure that you are getting excellent value for money, and that you are setting your business up to reflect the brand you have worked so hard to create.

A business premise is so much more than just a few walls and a roof; it is the heart and soul of your operations. Within moments your customers will form a view about the kind of business you are and what to expect in future dealings with your shop or showroom.

It is essential to optimise the customer experience through careful planning in the initial stages to ensure the final product is exactly as expected.

Georgina, our in-house designer, and planner at Designer Plants guides you through the top 8 important factors to consider in your shop fit out.

How to fit out a shop or showroom?

Consider the floor size you require for your shop fit out

Too often we work with retailers such as hairdressers, restaurants and coffee shops that simply take a shop that is available, rather than waiting for the right property to come onto the market. For example, a past client had 8 staff and ended up choosing a shop that was simply too small. Their desks wouldn’t fit, and they had to start meeting clients off-site as it was too cramped. At the very initial stages ask yourself:

  • How much space does each staff member need to operate?
  • Do you have an area clients can wait for you (or are they sitting on someone’s desks while they wait)?
  • Do you have room to move around safely with customers and staff?
  • Can other activities still occur if you are at full capacity: a box being left by a courier as an example within your shop fit out?

Look at how the office will function

Now that you know the space is large enough for your needs, one must consider what will occur within the office. Some frequent questions to ask are:

  • Do you need access to power points?
  • Is natural light going to reflect on computer screens?
  • Will customers constantly have a gale force wind blow over them if they are made to wait near the door?

I would always encourage you to draw out with chalk what you propose on the floor. And then imagine you actively using that space and ask what could be better.

Choose appropriate flooring

This may seem like a silly question for a shop fit out, but often people don’t get this right. You need to consider noise, clientele (disabled, elderly, young or fit as they all have different needs), life-span, hygiene, and colours). This is an entire topic in itself. However, as a general rule, you don’t want slippery surfaces such as tiles or oiled timbers as people will often skid. On the flip side, carpet is great for attracting bacteria and dirt. Consider whether you can partition off an area, i.e. carpet tiles for where staff make phone calls, and non-slip flooring for the customer areas.

Determine how people will access goods

showroom fit out tips

The two common considerations here are how high you stack items (will they fall on people / will customers struggle to get items down?), and whether the items are attractively displayed. People will naturally look the at heights that are between their knees and chest. Areas up high are great for excess storage, but not for putting items that may fall or beyond a person’s reach.

Find a suitable payment location

We are all in the business to make money, so you don’t want to make this part of the customer journey too hard, or people might just slip out the door. Generally speaking, we would recommend that the payment counter is clearly marked differently from the rest of the shop fit out (different paint colour behind, or even some panels of artificial greenery to draw people’s attention to the payment counter. There are a few keys reasons why we say make the area around the counter different:

  • People know where to go for help if they require it
  • Makes payments easier for clients
  • Creates a perfect area to put advertising signage, flyers or information.

Don’t forget your security

Security is a key factor that needs to be taken seriously because of the competing priorities between being welcoming and staying secure with your shop fit out.

Starting at the exterior we need to consider options to improve security that will deter intruders to begin with. Often putting CCTV with signage is highly recommended. If you would like to improve the physical security of the window consider adding a clear window security film, or using thick plated glass. Inside the shop or showroom fit out, it is integral to ensure that staff have clear sight of the entire shop from their point of operation. This will ensure that visitors think twice before pinching any valuable items. Another factor to consider amongst many others in your shop fit out the is security of your personal employees. Often shops will install a back to base alarm system, this is a panic alarm that can be triggered should an incident occur.

Attend to your external environment

Probably one of the most important considerations in the entire shop fit out is the exterior of your space; as this is what prospective clients will first see. You want something eye-catching, and clear advertising that says who you are and what you do. For example, if you are a restaurant instead of simply having a white painted wall and a sign “Suburb X Takeaway”, think about brightening the front up. You could use a boxwood hedge mat, and signage that addresses those questions, i.e. “Sam’s Healthy and Delicious Asian Takeaway”.

Add a point of difference

I ask all clients this question – ‘what makes you special?’. This is key because everyone can set up a shop or showroom fit out, but what will keep customers coming back is something unique that they love! Is it your service, value for money, passion or energy? I’ll give you a practical example; Sam loves a healthy lifestyle at a fast pace and wants to attract similar clients. So how do you do this? Consider the colours people associate with healthy (green), and other sensory stimuli such as music and smell. What we would recommend is installing artificial greenery throughout to reinforce that subliminal messaging of health, some great pump up music, lots of access to water (also something people associate with health), and remove any traditional detractors (junk signage, camouflage, unhealthy food, and bins).

Fitting out a shop can be a daunting process, however, with the right planning, the task is easier than one may think. We have worked with hundreds of shopfitters across the globe in their projects and would be happy to assist you too.

Contact us for your next shop fit.

How fire safe are green walls?

How fire safe are green walls?

The latest trend in buildings is to install green walls. These walls can come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. However, when poorly maintained they can pose a fire risk and danger to the Australian public. Unlike other countries, Australia is yet to catch up to updated building laws and fire safety procedures for the green wall pheneonem.

Fire safe green walls

fire safe green walls

Green walls are growing in popularity, but their safety has come under question, especially for living walls. In 2012 a fire in Redfern raised the alarm not just on the need for fire tested green walls, but to ensure proper policies and regulations were in place. The living green wall at the bar came alight after a burning candle came too close to its proximity. The obvious thing to note here is that anything that could ignite a fire (like a candle), should not be near a green wall in the first place!

Plants and greenery are often seen as fuel for a fire. However, according to European Fire studies the vertical garden and green walls are quite fire safe if they are maintained. The key is to ensure that they are regularly trimmed back if a living type of wall. Also, that they are regularly watered.

As more people call for sustainable measures and the green wall trend continues, builders and developers will look to add more of these fixtures to apartment blocks, commercial properties and in their landscape designs. Although, with this comes added costs, that those in the industry may look to cut back or avoid. Hence, why some experts are saying that there needs to be laws within Australia that protect people from practices that may be deemed unsafe.

For builders and developers, solutions like artificial greenery have started to gain their attention. This is because the artificial green walls and vertical gardens do not require maintenance, posing less of a financial burden. That said, fire safe green walls are also in their interest.

Fire safety tips to maintain a living green wall

If you have a living green wall, make sure to follow some of these basic rules to keep you and others around you safe from fire hazards or risk.

Check that the irrigation system works

If the system fails, how will you know or what safeguards have you put in place? One of the common problems with a living wall garden is if the area becomes dry. This makes the area more likely to be dangerous if it was to be ignited. Regular checks or maintenance should be put in place to ensure that water irrigation does not stop or break.

Regularly maintain the plants

Trim and maintain plants. Any dead materials that are left on or near the plant will not help if the area comes alight. Record a schedule of maintenance to remain accountable for fire safe green walls. If you are a landlord or sell the property, ensure new owners are aware of this requirement too.

Keep fire hazards away from your plants

Electrical appliances, wires or simple items in the home like a burning candle can all present a danger to your green wall. As you would not put an electrical appliance in water, keep your green wall away from other items that could ignite if there was a power outage or glitch. When designing a home or space, give the wall a structure that could help avoid a fire risk. This is particularly important for spaces that are sold or rented to other people, who may not be aware of the need to be fire safe – especially in metropolitan areas where the perception is they are safe compared to the bush.

Use low combustible materials

Reduce the risk with a fire tested green wall or safe materials. For example, the use of soil within a green wall fire protection system can help to dampen the area further, dependent on the type of plants and your setup. Succulents are also said to be a less risky option for living walls. And whilst recycled plastic materials and wooden frames have a low burn rate, you can always opt for stronger fire proof materials such as fire tested stainless steel frames to hold up the structure of your vertical garden.

Fire safety for artificial greenery

fire safe and tested artificial green walls and panels

As builders and developers look for affordable or maintenance free options, artificial greenery is also top of mind. Of course, unlike living walls the faux variety comes without the need of a full suite irrigation system or to trim back plant growth. The walls remain green all year round. However, alike most materials – an artificial green wall does pose some fire risk.

At this point in time in Australia there are no fire standards for artificial plants and fake green walls. And there is little to no regulation of the living walls, unlike overseas. That said, there are building codes and regulations that operate within Australia that refer to flammability, smoke and other fire related characteristics. There is also heightened interest for fire safety in buildings after the Grenfell Tower incident involving plastic-filled aluminum panels referred to as cladding. This continued when government buildings in Australia were found with similar materials.

Whilst artificial plants and green walls are not said to be dangerous to Australian households and businesses, you may decide (along with independent advice) that investing in fire retardant green walls is an option suitable for your property or environment. Designer Plants released a new range of fire tested green walls this year, a new generation of greenery known as “Select”. The artificial plants have been tested independently for fire and ignition.

Fire safety requires common sense

In addition to the tips provided in this post as a suggestion only, we recommend that common sense is applied when it comes to your and others safety in the home or space you live in, or are designing for.

For additional resources on fire safety and advice, refer to your local fire body or state authority, and please note this written piece is not to be taken as advice or assurance as to the suitability of any product, nor is it to be relied upon with respect to any building works.

Making a flower wall for a wedding

Making a flower wall for a wedding

Have you considered a flower wall for your wedding to add a unique element to your special day? Flowers are an important part of any wedding. They add colour and texture to your big event and help to generate the setting that represents you and your partner.

So, you may want to think past the traditional arrangements and make your day truly unforgettable with some clever touches of nature.

Types of flower walls

making a wedding flower wall

There is no limit to how you can design a floral wall. Making a flower wall for your wedding is an opportunity to show off your creative side and use the concept to make a positive impact at your wedding. Try some of our ideas or come up with a unique concept of your own:

Lush

Cover the wall completely with flowers. Packed closely together in a rich display of one or an array of colours.

Simple Beauty

Use a stunning wall to feature a special design or motif that is significant to you.

Minimalist style

Place vines and flowers to highlight a wall rather than cover it completely.

Rustic Compromise

Instead of a wall create a beautiful archway. Combine branches, vines and hanging flowers to add a touch of nature. Add a solid wall of leaves behind for a more mystical effect.

Classy combination

Merge flowers with drapes of soft material for stylish floral walls, or match them with tropical prints for themed weddings.

Organic elegance

For a more natural feel mix your blooms with petals, twigs and leaves. Beautiful indoors or outside.

These are just some examples of the ways that you can design your own flower wall it’s all up to your imagination.

What materials do you need for a flower wall?

How to make a flower wall for wedding

With so many flowers and plant options around, it can be hard to decide on which flower wall you’ll make at your wedding. Here are the three main types, along with what you’ll need. Making a flower wall for a wedding can be done with real plants and artificial flowers.

Real blooms

Organic blooms for a wedding are classy and beautiful. Choose the right flowers to add ambience. You can even consider the fragrance of the flowers. Popular favourites include the traditional Rose, Hydrangea and Orchid. Whilst modern day blooms include the likes of the Daisy and succulents.

The real flowers for a wedding can be difficult to obtain, so order in advance. And don’t forget they can wilt.

Artificial flowers

Using artificial flowers or plants for your wedding wall is a realistic option. With high-quality products on the market, you can add gorgeous natural features to your wedding that will fool even the most practised eye into thinking they are real.

There are some definite advantages of using artificial components for your flower wall.  They look as good as real flowers and have a more consistent look. Availability will be less of an issue – especially if you need large quantities. And best of all they don’t wilt, so can be assembled way ahead of time.

Other materials

Another trend with wedding walls includes the use of paper or plastic materials. Although they do not have the same realistic feel as blooms or artificial flowers, they can showcase their beauty and again your creative style.

How to use your flower wall?

If you are not sure whether a flower wall is suitable for your wedding and how to use one, here are some ideas for how to add one to your decor:

  • As a backdrop for your ceremony;
  • Beautiful for either indoors or outdoors at your ceremony and/or your reception;
  • Use as a feature wall that people will remember and use for their selfies before they leave;
  • Add in front of your venue, especially outdoors, to help guests find their way.

Get creative and use flowers to make your wedding memorable.

What other ways would you use a flower wall at a wedding? We would love to hear your suggestions.

Australian fire tested green walls – Select range

Australian fire tested green walls – Select range

Fire Tested green walls in Certified Australian Laboratory     

Our philosophy from the beginning has been about offering the market the best green walls in Australia.

Having started off by introducing ROHS complaint vertical gardens and green walls, we now build on the tradition of empowering our customers by obtaining certified Australian based fire testing of our Premium Select Range 

Our tests were conducted in accordance with AS/NZS 1530.3-1999 Part 3 which seeks to test and assess building materials and components according to:

  1. Their tendency to ignite
  2. Their tendency to propagate flame
  3. The heat they release once ignition has occurred; and
  4. Their tendency to release smoke[1]

What happened with our fire tested green walls?

An independent expert laboratory, immediately prior to conducting these tests, conditioned panels to a constant mass, at a temperature of 20 ± 2°C and a relative humidity of 65 ± 5%.

Fake green wall inside an office

6 samples were subjected to fire testing at the expert fire testing laboratory.

The fire testing provided a range of results with respect to regulatory indices, with results revealing the ignitability, spread of flame index, the heat evolved index and smoke developed index.

Important things to note

Within Australia (as at the time of writing this report) there is no Australian Standard for fire rating of artificial plants, however, there are many building regulations that operate within Australia with respect to flammability, smoke and other fire related characteristics.

It is important you check with your builder, surveyor, engineers and fire specialists to make sure your design and build comply with such guidelines, regulations and laws.

In assessing the suitability of a product, such as a green wall – consideration may be given to proximity to fire escapes, fire ratings of walls, the height of the building, the type of construction (commercial, retail or residential as examples), or a range of other factors.

Please ensure that you request the fire tested green wall reports from us prior to placing an order and seek independent advice before making any purchasing decision.

View our independently certified reports

Designer Plants is unable to provide any advice on the suitability of the product as we are not fire engineers, or licenced building surveyors, rather suppliers of Australia’s leading green walls, vertical gardens and fake plants.

To learn more about our green walls please check out the green wall blog here.

You can contact us using the below link to request a quote or further information about green walls for Designer Plants Select Range.

Please note we require all fields to be filled in to receive a report, to ensure we are dealing with a genuine customer – unfortunately, some companies use other people’s fire reports to pass them off as their own and we want to ensure that the highest levels of integrity are observed as fire is a serious matter.

The reports for fire tested green walls are not to be altered or reproduced in any way and will be provided upon request.

shopfitting green wall

[1] https://infostore.saiglobal.com/en-au/Standards/AS-NZS-1530-3-1999-R2016–359698/

Best 9 greenery panels sold to date

Best 9 greenery panels sold to date

Ready to add some greenery panels to your home or space? You might be thinking, where do I start? If you are not sure about the best artificial green wall to purchase, let others inspire you. We’ve picked our best 9 panels sold to date from our Designer Plants range.

Can you guess which one of our high quality greenery panels made it to number one? Scroll down below to see the garden walls making their way from ninth to the first spot.

Greenery panels you’ll love

9. Ivy leaf hedging roll

Ivy On a Fence

Our Ivy leaf hedge roll is great for when you want to add a bit of greenery to your space. Unlike the real ivy, it won’t overgrow. The sheet can be applied to a wall or a fence.

8. Deluxe Buxus Panels

fake buxus hedge walll

Your very own dense hedge. Great for a balcony, patio or outside space. The buxus greenery panels look great all year round and don’t require that constant trimming you have to endure with real hedges.

7. Boxwood screen panels

Boxwood hedge

A popular favourite, especially when it comes to events. The boxwood screen panels are easy to install. Compared to the buxus wall, they are darker and richer in colour. Also available as pre-installed units.

6. Ivy leaf screen

Artificial green vertical screen

It is no surprise that the Ivy leaf is a top seller when it comes to greenery panels. Everyone dreams of an Ivy that they can manage when it comes to their garden. This screen makes that a reality. The Ivy leaves can also be cut to shape.

5. Laurel Hedge Extendable Trellis

Extendable Laurel Trellis

Ideal for a wall, fence or backyard space, the laurel extendable trellis has the greenery woven around timber panels. The screen measures 2 metres by 1 metre and can be easily extended or made smaller to suit your needs.

4. Spring Sensation

Artificial Vertical Garden Wall - Designer Plants

Spring is in the air! One of the most sought out seasons where you can see nature in its beauty. But if you want Spring to stay around beyond three months, you can achieve that with this spring sensation greenery panel.

3. Jasmine Leaf Screens

Jasmine leaf

Decorate your home with green and yellow. A perfect mix that is not overpowering. The jasmine leaf is great for in the home, outdoors or even for showroom and shop displays.

2. White Oasis

White Oasis Vertical Garden Panel -

Your very own oasis. Since we launched this greenery panel, it has been a top pick for many homes and businesses. The perfect mix of artificial green plants, along with flowers makes this wall hard to resist.

1. Green Tropics

green tropics green wall

Sitting right at the top spot and for some time, is our green tropics. Lush forest has been a dream for many. Experience it as if you were on a tropical island escape. Lifelike and extremely dense.

How to create a tropical look in any season with palm trees?

How to create a tropical look in any season with palm trees?

Palm trees are known for their tropical island feel. They look stunning, picturesque and can be the finishing touch to a beautiful outdoor space. But did you know palm trees grew in the Arctic? Whilst the Arctic climate has changed, the opportunity to grow and enjoy these beauties have not.

What is a palm tree?

Palms trees despite the iconic image of a tree with coconuts and palms, can grow in the form of shrubs, woody vines, and trees. The palm tree has over 2,500 species and comes in many shapes, colours and sizes. Many argue that the palm tree originated from Iraq around 50,000 years ago, whilst closest at home Australian scientific findings and an Indigenous legend discovered that the palm has even grown in the Arctic around this same time period. Perhaps the most famous indication of a palm tree though is its fronds, which some people call leaves. There are two main types of palm tree fronds, the pinnate which is shaped like a feather. And then there is the palmate frond which is often described as a fan because it is wider in appearance.

palm tree fronds and palm tree leaves

Palm trees remind us of an island or oceanic view. A tropical appearance that makes us think palm trees all grow coconuts. But they are also famous for growing dates, acai fruit and palm oil from their fruit. Historically, they are also known for their religious symbolism. A palm tree in biblical times represented the victory of a martyr or victory of a spirit over a person’s body.

How do you grow palm trees?

Unlike other plants out there that grow using a cut off the plant, you can only grow a palm tree with a seed. You can purchase a living seed online or at a local living plant store. Palm seeds need to be fresh to grow quickly. To test if a seed is well, you can place it in warm water. If a seed floats, it lacks some of the nutrients needed to flourish. Once you’ve planted the seeds, place them in a pot plant. The palm tree will need little soil. In tropical islands, these plants grow quickly due to hot climates and with windy conditions. The wind and local animals help to drop the seeds and the palm tree grows.

In terms of growth, you can expect palm trees to grow from 70 days after planting the seed, and with some species, this can be up to six months. It’s best to check with your local plant store when purchasing the seed, so you can understand the expectations and whether your palm tree is on the path to growth.

All palm trees bar those from the arid region enjoy lots of sunlight and humidity. At the start, your plant will grow with regular servings of water. You can add fertiliser, but only once the plant has started to grow with a few leaves. Again, these requirements do depend on the species of palm tree.

What is a sign of an unhealthy palm tree?

If you notice your leaves starting to brown, this could be a sign you are not taking good care of the tree. During winter especially during bad weather, you should wrap the trunk with a blanket or plastic sheet. Whilst most palms are wind resistant, they do need protection from cold weather.

Can you grow a palm tree indoors in Australia?

Yes, you can grow palm trees indoors in Australia. There are living palm trees and artificial palms available that suit the indoor environment.

Palm trees that live indoor still need some access to sunlight. They are usually best placed near a window that gets indirect light and they need to be watered each week, depending on their species. Some of the common indoor species available include the parlor palm, fan palm, sentry palm, butterfly palm and the yucca palm. These varieties don’t need sunlight all the time, but should not be in complete darkness – otherwise, they will not grow.

Unlike outdoor palm trees, indoor palms are best to be pruned. When the leaves start to change colour, you can prune them back to keep them looking green and luscious in your indoor jungle.

Are there low maintenance palm trees?

Palm trees will require attention, love, and care. The needs of the tree depend on the type of plant you get. For instance, some varieties need a lot of sunlight, whilst the indoor types can survive with the indirect sun shining through. Though if you live in a place without a window or much brightness, it will be hard to grow a palm tree. They also require water, no matter indoor or out. Whilst they can outlast droughts in other climates, in Australia they tend to require water to survive our weather patterns.

For low maintenance palm trees, your best bet is to go with artificial palm tree varieties. We are not referring to cardboard plants, but ones that are made from strong plastic or other materials. A large tropical palm tree is perfect to brighten up space or create your own oasis. They are designed to suit many spaces, especially an office or living room corner. They will require little to no maintenance, with the only need being to dust them off every once in a while. The fake plant varieties have advanced quite a lot these days and you’d be surprised how lifelike the fake palm tree plants and trunks can be.

artificial palm tree

What do palm trees go with?

Palm trees are tropical. So if you want to match palm trees, they are often best delivered with a nautical theme. Commonly you’ll find people plant palm trees near pools or outside on the deck. For inside, palm trees have more flexibility. You can easily get away with having a fake palm tree in your lounge room in the corner or on a table. They are also great to add some colour or ‘life’ to some bedroom decor. And if you want to match the theme of your new tropical oasis, nothing says nautical theme than adding some watercolours, beach decor and some favourites like the pineapple. You can find some pretty neat pineapple lights and storage solutions at a department store or online.