How to Choose the Kind of Artificial Foliage for Green Walls and Roofs that You Need for Your Decorative Project

This simple guide will help you decide which type of artificial foliage is best suited for what you need.

There are many options to choose from when shopping for something to provide shade for cars, turn a chain link fence into a privacy fence, or quickly cover up a wall that needs refurbishing.  Among the various known options, HORTOMALLAS® has created the ERBETTA® line of products which consist of snap-together panels of artificial foliage made of polyethylene of the highest quality with the addition of a first-class antioxidant to protect against UV rays.  This technical process for plastics allows ERBETTA® products to last years longer than other products, which are similar in appearance but after a few months of exposure to the sun begin to deteriorate and become discolored.

Artificial Foliage
The ERBETTA® panels of artificial foliage snap together easily and the tabs are hidden once put together.

These ERBETTA® blocks can be installed horizontally on flat rooftops so that from above they look like green roofs thus creating a natural looking setting and at the same time mitigate the accumulative effect of heat in the concrete.  This same effect can also be achieved by installing ERBETTA® panels on the southern and western sides of a building.

Roofs of erbetta foliage make for a natural look.
Roofs of artificial foliage make for a natural look.

When ERBETTA® Artificial Foliage gets installed on chain link fence it accomplishes two things: 

it provides privacy and it removes a cheap-looking perimeter fencing eyesore.  The panels are easily installed using cable ties or wire, with the leaves facing out from the side of the fence that needs improvement.  If these panels of artificial foliage are installed on both sides of the fencing, in addition to looking better on both sides of the fence, the level of privacy will also be increased.

By turning a chain link fence into a green wall,  it becomes more elegant and natural looking while at the same time shielding the interior from prying eyes.
By turning a chain link fence into a green wall,  it becomes more elegant and natural looking while at the same time shielding the interior from prying eyes.

If the aesthetic visual effect is only wanted on one side, it is advisable to put green shade cloth between the chain link and the panels.  In the case of needing a green wall for the privacy of clients of bars and restaurants that face a street, these panels get installed on metal structures so that it simulates a vertical garden.  This will separate the outdoor diners from the street and incorporate them with the rest of the restaurant.

Many times these panels of artificial foliage are installed over light-colored exterior or interior walls in order to bring out the depth of colors of the foliage.  We recommend that these surfaces be painted a dark color as a background—anywhere from green to black—in order to hide the plastic webbing that holds the foliage.

Backside of the ERBETTA® artificial grasspanels.
Backside of the ERBETTA® artificial foliage panels.


Why use artificial foliage instead of using the actual plants?

The easy answer is the low or no-cost maintenance (cleaning, pruning, watering, fertilizing) and the other is that they do not attract insects such as cockroaches or others that hide in the moist shade of real plants.  It is known that there are psychological effects from being surrounded by a vista of greenery:  subconsciously we relax when in the midst of the green leaves of a garden.  This virtual reality is as close to real that can be created at low cost so that our patients or clients in a waiting room can be at ease.

The ERBETTA® LINE of artificial foliage by HORTOMALLAS® offers a great variety of models and designs of mosaics of artificial plants, from the most popular and ordinary to the most far-fetched and sophisticated.

The ERBETTA® line from HORTOMALLAS® offers a great variety of artificial grass, bushes, and plants.
The ERBETTA® line from HORTOMALLAS® offers a great variety of artificial grass, bushes, and plants.

You will discover that there are economical versions of decorative foliage on the market, but they are usually made of recycled plastic and have a shorter life span.  In fact, much less—like less than half the life of our premium products!

In the long run these cheap products end up costing more because panels need to be replaced every year.  Moreover, these products have a lower density of artificial foliage which means that it is easier to see through and, consequently, there is less privacy.

Side by side comparison against the light of the density of ERBETTA® foliage as opposed to economical imitations.
Side by side comparison against the light of the density of ERBETTA® artificial foliage as opposed to economical imitations.

BUXUS: very sophisticated artificial foliage looking and easy to install.

The most popular squares, without a doubt, are those that simulate boxwood (Boxus Sempervirens) since its small but dense leaves obstruct the background (wall, fencing, chain link, or whatever) and they lend themselves to bending around a corner to make them look like hedges.

ERBETTA® Buxus is available in two styles:

  1. Two green tones
  2. Green with yellow-green

Many manufactures of synthetic plants erroneously call boxwood “Milan.”  Boxwood is a green perennial plant which lends itself well to both interior and exterior decorations.  It does a good job of covering up construction defects and provides privacy when installed over a perimeter fence.  It is available in 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panels.

: ERBETTA® Buxus (buxus sempervirens), 50 x 50 cm panel (20 x 20 inches).
ERBETTA® Buxus (yellow/green leaves), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

AZALEA:  the famous rhododendron, the flowering spring bush.

In nature azalea flowers last for several weeks, but ERBETTA® Azalea will provide you with some permanent flowers that simulate the visual effect of natural barriers made of azalea plants.  Its leaves mimic perfectly the natural leaves, both visually and tactilely.

ERBETTA® Azalea is available in two styles:  1) purple flowers and 2) foliage only.  Both are ideal for creating a natural setting near fountains, restaurant patios, or on exterior lateral facades or walls that need some sprucing up.


Azalea (with purple flowers), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

ERBETTA® Azalea (leaves only), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

CIPRÉS:  the natural green wall used to mark property boundaries.

In nature this plant’s roots grow vertically and for this reason cypress. (cupressus) gets used for hiding perimeter walls on urban properties since the roots will not damage adjacent construction.  By pruning it, very precise geometrical designs can be created.

ERBETTA® Ciprés has the greyish light-green tones of natural cypress.  Since its leaves form very thick foliage, it hides what is in back of it very well and helps to decorate exterior walls making them look like hedgerows. In open air areas of bars and restaurants, this provides privacy and protection to the clients from street traffic, alley ways, and sidewalk benches.

ERBETTA® Ciprés, 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

MAPLE: simulates maple leaves, but it is also quite similar to marijuana since it has whorls of seven leaves!

This leaf pattern lends itself well for creating a pleasant public space that becomes a conversation piece since these leaves can be mistaken for a plant that is not legal and therefore controversial. 

Its installation is recommended in visible areas of eating and drinking spaces where clients will feel welcomed by a natural setting.

ERBETTA® Maple, 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

GARDENIA: is a faithful reproduction in two tones of green.

Is available with leaves only.  In nature it is an evergreen shrub with bright green tones and white flowers with a notoriously intense scent.  Gardenia is in the coffee family and its scientific name is Gardenia jasminoides.

The leaves of the ERBETTA® Gardenia pattern have two tones of green. One light in color to simulate young leaves and the other dark green like the mature leaves of this species.  As in nature, this reproduction has brilliant leaves.

ERBETTA® Gardenia (leaves only), 50 x 50 (20 x 20 inches) panel.

JAZMÍN: is highly decorative and is ideal for small settings where the accent of white flowers can be appreciated. 

Its small leaves, as are those of  jasminium, and dainty white flowers would be perfect for creating an architectural environment with natural-looking. Visual spaces that emulate a border or partition densely covered with these leaves. 

These panels have very dense foliage which makes it possible to visually block anything in back of it such as chain-link or other fencing or grates.

ERBETTA® Jazmín (white flower), 50 X 50 cm (20 x 20) panel.

HIEDRA: is the exact representation of the classic climbing vine for walls. 

Its leaves are a classical facade on European country homes or New England houses where it is known as ivy (and which is the origin of the term “Ivy League schools”).  The most common ones are  Hedera canariensis or  Hedera hélix.

The panels of the ERBETTA® brand of artificial ivy have very dense leaves of various sizes which makes them very resistant to UV rays.  Their installation is very common in waiting rooms with fountains or on the facade of buildings in order to hide blemishes.  They also work well to hide grates, perimeter walls, and chain-link fences. Hiedra is available in 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) square panels.

ERBETTA® Hiedra, 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

BOUGAINVILLEA: follaje artificial Is top-of-the-line of the HORTOMALLAS® synthetic plants. 

It is a classic in Mediterranean gardens but originated in South America.  It was named by the French explorer,  Antoine de Bougainville, and there are different ways of spelling it in Spanish, [but in English it is known as bougainvillea].  Its characteristically brightly colored flowers gave origin to the so-called Mexican rose.

This plant is quite beautiful to behold.  However, any gardener knows how difficult it can be to keep the garden neat and tidy where they are growing since they shed and change leaves and flowers daily.  Another little-known peculiarity is that in nature the bougainvillea plant flowers more when it is ignored:  the less that it is pruned and watered, the more that it flowers!  The ERBETTA® Bugambilla line allows you to spruce up the facades of buildings without needing to be picking up fallen leaves.  It is, finally, an easy way to enjoy a botanical classic.   ERBETTA® Bugambilia is the premium line and comes in thicker panels than the other ERBETTA® products and the panels are 1 x 1 m (39 x 39 inches).

ERBETTA® Bugambilia (fiusha flower), 1x1m panel

FOTINIA: is the reproduction of a very large bush used a lot in Asia for marking boundaries. 

The scientific name is Photinia davidiana and in nature it is a small evergreen tree that grows to be from 3 to 15 meters. (10 to 50 feet) tall and with leaves that are from 4 to 12 cm. (1½ to 5 inches) and that can take on tints of red and burgundy depending on how much they mature and how much they are exposed to the sun.  The HORTOMALLAS® ERBETTA® Fontina is green with burgundy and has good decorative qualities which makes it a good choice for covering grates and gates.

ERBETTA® Fontina (green/burgundy leaves), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

OSMANTO: is the artificial foliage version of another plant of Asian origin: 

Osmanthus Fragrans, also known as fragrant olive or sweet olive.  Its leaves are from 5 to 12 cm (2 to 5 inches) in length and about 3 cm (a good inch) in width.  It is grown as an ornamental in Asia, Europe, and North America and it is the icon of the beautiful city of  Hangzhou in China.  Also in China it is used for making a tea to take advantage of its sweet taste and medicinal properties.  Unfortunately the artificial version cannot be used as a beverage, but its decorative forms are well represented in the two versions that HORTOMALLAS® offers: 1) leaves with yellow and green tones, and 2) green leaves only.

ERBETTA® Osmanto (green leaves), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.
ERBETTA® Osmanto (yellow/green leaves), 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 inches) panel.

DURAZNO: is a replica of the leaves of the peach tree and is the economical offering of the ERBETTA® series. 

It gets used primarily to shield areas fenced in with chain-link fencing from the prying eyes of neighbors and pedestrians.  This product is 1 x 3 m (39 x 118 inches).  It also gets used as shade cloth for covering and protecting vehicles from the sun.

ERBETTA® Durazno, 1 x 3 m (39 x 118 inches) panel.