Going Green: Rooftop gardens
YNN's Terry Ettinger explains the benefits that a rooftop garden can provide.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
This is what many roof gardens look like, doing the job of insulating the building to reduce energy usage but the minimal substrate depth, generally less than six inches, limits the type of plants that can be used and can lead to a lack of variety in the planting design.
The substrate for the roof garden being constructed on this building will range from 6 to 18 inches and that opens for the door for some innovation use native New York plant species.
"The plant species are from two very rare, natural communities in New York State that are north of here. The alvars are found northwest of Watertown, and in the dune community, along eastern Lake Ontario. We picked the draught-tolerant species that we could find from those really draught-prone natural communities," explained Dr. Donald Leopold, Environment and Forest Biology, SUNY ESF.
The selected plants were set up in test plots on this roof for two years to see which thrived the best.
"These plants have been growing on Illick Hall roof for two years with pretty different conditions. Heavy snow one year, and than no snow this past year with extreme cold on occasion and extreme draught. They've been through the usual things that you might expect over two or three years. We've lost only a few species, we've actually been surprised at how well some of the species have done," said Dr. Leopold.
Here's one that's obviously done well. The dune willow is a tall growing plant, something you don't often see in roof gardens.
"From an ecological standpoint, and from a structural standpoint, in terms of how you design a garden, how you design a garden space on a rooftop, you want to have some variability in things like that, so we're getting a larger plant which can tolerate the difficult growing conditions," explained Timothy Toland, Landscape Architecture, SUNY ESF.
Some 50 plant varieties are being used, so it will be a dynamic landscape with something happening pretty much year round.
"It's a novel application. It'll be a novel design and the fact that people can come out and engage it, and look at it, and experience it directly is good. One of the important aspects of that will be that the design community will have a new pallet of plants to increase the options for their designs when they work with green roofs," said Toland.