Green Industry Naming Challenges

Many years ago (30 or so) when I got started in the plantable retaining wall block business as my first entry into green building, we didn’t know how to describe or name product types and categories. It seems strange today that that could be possible because now when you look at a plant covered building wall you say “that is a living wall” but you also might say that it’s a green wall and those are some confusing points just to start the conversation. In today’s market everything revolves around searchability and back when I started, we really weren’t using the computer that much and we didn’t have smartphones like we do today, so it just never occurred to us to create naming the coefficients that could be searchable by Google and other search engines.

Green Product Names can be confusing!

The confusion remains today and for me it might even be more difficult than ever because as I write this blog, I am always concerned about the searchability of our products on the internet. I try to use keyword names so that potential customers looking for products in our category can easily find information on our vertical garden products and others that are like them. As an inventor and product designer in the green building world, I have always felt like I really should not be concerning myself with all of this and I should just create great products that perform, and the rest would take care of itself. Sometimes that is the case but many times it is not.

What is a Living Wall?

Now let’s look at the names that have evolved relative to the different product categories that our products service. There are “living walls” which have evolved to mean vertical building walls covered with plants made possible by some form of structural rack that holds the plants, growing media, and watering system. No need to go further on that one because I think the category has been around long enough that professionals and consumers are starting to get used to it.

Is a Green Wall, Green?

What about the name “green wall” or even “green living wall”? That naming was used all the time over the last 15 to 20 years. Sometimes it meant a structural retaining wall and sometimes it meant a vertical plant covered wall for aesthetic purposes. I’m not sure if anybody really knows what a green wall is these days except that perhaps it might be mistaken as a “wall painted in the color green” which we always thought was a joke in the early days of green building but now you must be careful so that your product doesn’t pull up every time somebody searches about painting a wall green in color.

Defining Vertical Gardens?

We have coined the phrase “Vertical Garden” to describe our Varden line of products. Even within our own brand, sometimes we are confusing our customers and potential customers. People call in and say to our staff that they want to order a vertical garden and we quickly ask, which one?

Our brand includes:

Searching for Wall Planters?

Today we all navigate web search through product categories like Wall Planters, Plant Walls, Tower Gardens, Wall Garden, Live Plant Wall and Live Wall, to name a few from a list of hundreds.

Our business intent is to serve all aspects and categories of Green Building and Living Architecture but in doing so we must always strive to properly define the search categories our Varden Brand products fit into. Our mission is greening the built environment and empowering everyone to grow some of their own food, even if short on space. We are achieving our goals and the naming challenges will continue. I hope this blog post clarifies the names, the intents and uses of our products and others like them in their categories. Go Green!

  • Freshly planted living retaining wall
  • Varden Vertical Farm 264 planted and growing
  • Woman harvesting from indoor vertical garden
  • Large outdoor living walls planted
  • Indoor Varden living wall
  • 2 Kitchen Garden units installed on fence

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About the Author: Mark Woolbright

Mark Woolbright is an inventor and innovator of living walls with over 30 years in design, manufacture, marketing, and installation of plantable, living wall systems. Mark graduated from Eastern Illinois University and is currently Managing Member of Greenwall Ventures, LLC, and most recently, CEO/Founder of Verdtech, Inc. Throughout his career, he has been awarded twelve patents, with more applications pending. Mark has served on the Board of the St. Louis USGBC, as a member of the Green Wall Committee of GRHC which develops course curriculum for its Green Walls 101 course and is a certified Biophilic Design trainer through GPGB. He is passionate about educating the building community on the environmental benefits of Living Walls and best practices for their use. If you have questions on living walls, contact Mark at (314) 279-8905 or View his creations and services at