Green Roof Plants A Resource and Planting Guide Consumer Reviews Living Roofs—Bees Find New

Green Roof Plants A Resource and Planting Guide Consumer Reviews Living Roofs--Bees Find New

Living Roofs—Bees Find New Paradise

Pros: List of plants, garden examples, basic design information,

Cons: Online resources would be nice

The Bottom Line: This provides a practical, indispensable reference guide for anyone involved in developing a Green Roof garden. Anyone includes architects, landscape designers, engineers, environmentalists, and home gardeners.

That right smack dab in the middle of town

I found a paradise thats troubleproof

And if this old world starts a getting you down

Theres room enough for two

Up on the roof. (From Gerry Coffin and Carol King’s Up on the Roof)

Green roofs are sprouting up everywhere creating new sources of paradise. High up in the sky buildings, skyscrapers, apartment buildings, museums, government offices all across the country are supporting high up in the sky gardens. The bees need to fly just a little higher to find nectar sources, but what they are locating is so good they often don&#146t want to take the elevator back down to the street level.

In Green Roof Plants authors Edmund C. Snodgrass and Lucie L. Snodgrass are quick to point out that ten years prior to the release of this 2006 book &#147a plant guide for green roofs would not have found a market in the United States. Even five years previously, the idea would have been premature. &#148 He is a fifth-generation farmer and nurseryman, and owner/president of Emory Knoll Farms Inc. and Green Roof Plants specializing in plants for green roofs.

In an effort to improve the environmental quality of urban communities, to decrease stormwater runoff, and to create green spaces for urban residents, green roofs (rooftop gardens) have been popping up everywhere. Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, and Denver are only a few locations proudly displaying green roofs.

Why plant up in the sky?

Green roofs are planted for a wide range of reasons and just as wide of a range of goals. However, the most common include

▪ Storm-water runoff management

▪ Creating a cooler urban climate

▪ Food production

▪ Aesthetics

▪ Absorbing airborne pollutants and particulates

▪ Reduction of noise

▪ Tax incentives

▪ Insulates buildings from extreme temperature fluctuations.

I might add they fascinate me. Watching development of rooftop gardens on Chicago&#146s City Hall and the Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago has been intriguing. They are helping to lead a revolution. This book, Green Roof Plants. supports the Green Roof efforts.


Rooftop gardens remain a relatively new concept for many. What exactly does this look like? Rather than having black rooftops that generate immense amounts of heat, we find examples throughout the first 86 pages that have been taken from gardens from all parts of the country. There are more than 300 photographs of case studies and plants in the entire book. On page 19 we find &#147Intensive green roofs similar to this one on the grove Park Inn in Ashville, North Carolina, are much more common than extensive green roofs in North America. &#148 This garden has stone walls, a flowing water feature, paths, elevation and small structures. It resembles a small woodland park. Oh, it also has small trees, lots of shrubs and it&#146s fascinating.

Landscaped roofs are frequently planted with alpine plants, groundcovers, grasses and low-profile plants, however, some embrace creativity and design found in front yard gardens. The Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver (page 59) is planted with a kitchen herb garden actually used by their kitchen staff. Why not? Can schools plant roof gardens with nutritional food for their kitchens? These also become excellent locations for native plants. Some photos are of private homes in the United States and in Europe.

The Book&#146s Content

Green Roof Plants concentrates mostly on vegetation selection (establishment, installation, and maintenance) rather than physical design. The first chapter addresses fundamentals that examine benefits and challenges. The second chapter explains introductory basics about roof design and construction. Yes, you need to consider load-bearing. You also need to understand the multiple layers: decking, waterproofing, insulation, root barrier, drainage, filter and a substrate or medium layer. This knowledge helps when working with engineers and designers. Can you do this to your own roof? Not from the use of this book alone and they advise working with experienced professionals. With all these layers it&#146s a wonder that constructions not originally built to carry this weight can be modified to support the weight of the layers, plants, and water they hold. All new construction and retrofit projects need to be tested for leaks before planting.

Plant selection is determined, of course, by your geographic and environmental region. Plants must be capable of withstanding the heat and hardiness zones. Wind buffers might be necessary. &#147In general terms, the most successful green roof plants are low-growing, shallow-rooted perennial plants that are heat, cold, sun, wind, drought, salt, insect, and disease tolerant. &#148 This sounds like alpine plants, and that explains why a former colleague of mine, Panayoti Kelaidis of Denver Botanic Gardens, has been involved in the creation of the plant list.

The final chapter contains a fairly comprehensive plant guide. One hundred pages are dedicated to the details of 200 plus plants commonly used in designs (in alphabetical order according to their genus). Each description provides flower and foliage color, bloom time, hardiness zone, plant type (groundcover or accent), self-sowing or not self-sowing, natural range, height, spread, planting medium, and light requirement. Each has a brief description and color picture. The chapter’s introduction explains descriptives used with the plant details. This guide is followed by a directory of plants arranged by color and type, a bibliography, and an index (but no internet resources).

In Conclusion

There are many reputable resources for learning more about Green Roofs. Simply select your favorite search engine and look up &#147green roofs&#148 and you will discover organizations, government agencies, publications, nurseries, and architects willing to help you. This could be a fad, but the Snodgrasses correctly point out that the practice of designing rooftop gardens has been common in European countries. It actually dates back to Mesopotamia, the Greeks, Romans, and Persians. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were planted on rooftops. We are only now really exploring this style of garden in part as a solution to environmental needs, but also because of our lack of access to urban land for gardens and green space.

Your rooftop garden can add retreats and insect habitats, as well as pollution solutions. Beehives on top of Chicago&#146s City Hall produce honey. This book, written by Edmund C. Snodgrass and Lucie L. Snodgrass, is one of the first to provide practical, indispensable information and a plant reference guide for anyone involved in developing a rooftop garden smack dab in the middle of town, suburb, or rural community. Anyone includes architects, landscape designers, engineers, environmentalists, home gardeners, and everyone considering working with a professional to create a green roof for your building, home, school, or business.

Recommend this product? Yes

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