Think inside the box to create environmentally friendly green roofs and walls — Post and Courier

Think inside the box to create environmentally friendly green roofs and walls - Post and Courier

We evicted our new tenant.

He was hiding in the garage when we gave him the bad news. We had tempted him to move out with peanut butter and apples, but it took a thorough cleaning to convince the rat to find another home.

My daughter didn’t care. Like most of us, she associates all the pretty things with Mother Nature, like flowers and bunny rabbits, not disgusting vermin.

She also doesn’t think about Mother Nature growing green grass on shingle roofs and brick walls. But times are changing.

Green roofs are quite common in certain parts of the world. Plants can cool the roof by as much as 12 degrees and increase the longevity by two to three times. A 4-inch thick green roof can hold as much as a gallon of water per square foot, helping to alleviate stormwater problems in urban areas. Green roofs are also green, having a positive impact on mental and physical health. In fact, the benefits are so numerous that some countries have mandated all newly constructed flat roofs be green roofs.

Green roofs are typically designed and installed by professionals, using lightweight engineered soil and durable plants. Once a water barrier is established, the green roof can be installed by spreading the soil a minimum of four inches thick and planted. Another method is modular, whereby preplanted 24 by 24 by 4-foot-square containers are secured on the roof for instant greening.

Green roofs aren’t just for buildings. They can be installed on birdhouses and doghouses as a way to increase green appeal and utilize otherwise wasted space. A waterproof barrier can easily be achieved with a thick layer of plastic or the rubber liner typically used in ponds.

The soil doesn’t have to be engineered for small projects. It can be potting soil since the weight won’t be as significant as it is on a house.

If you’d like to mix your own lightweight, well-drained green roof soil, however, combine 75 percent inorganic material, such as expanded clay; with 25 percent topsoil and/or compost. Whenever possible, spread it at least four inches deep.

As for plants, sedums are the predominant selection for extensive green roofs. Succulents with a spreading growth habit can be purchased at local garden centers or ordered online from vendors like www.simplysucculents.com .

If you know someone with sedums, then you’re in luck. Pinch off a stem and stick in potting soil. Most cuttings will root within a couple of weeks and be ready for transplanting.

If greening a roof is out of the question, consider going vertical with green walls. Commercial projects anchor steel grids on buildings to support vines that insulate and soften the architecture.

Green walls don’t have to be complicated. They can be created right at home with simple materials to take advantage of small spaces and empty walls. The most important requirements are irrigation and waterproofing.

You don’t want a green wall to hold moisture against the house and introduce rot or termites.

At Trident Technical College, we’ve stacked colorful milk crates lined with weed fabric and filled with soil. By punching holes in the fabric, we planted petunias and vegetables that lasted most of the summer.

We also repurposed a large greenhouse vent by turning it upside down and filling the louvers and planting sedums.

For indoor appeal, we’ve built framed boxes and secured wire mesh over the top. Once filled, we stuck sedums through the screen to create a living picture.

The challenge is keeping green walls irrigated. Hand-watering from the outside has proven, over the long run, ineffective since it tends to run off the outside. We have integrated drip irrigation through the interior portions to keep the entire root zone sufficiently watered.

To tour a green roof and green wall, visit Moore Botanical Garden in Lake City. It has both, and the green roof is accessible via a spiral staircase.

The nursing building at Trident Tech also has a green roof that is open to the public.

Whether you green your roof or green a wall, keep in mind that Mother Nature loves her cockroaches and yellow jackets as much as she likes her songbirds.

Tony Bertauski is a horticulture instructor at Trident Technical College. To give feedback, email him at tony.bertauski@tridenttech.edu.

Comments

Notice about comments:

The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.

We do not edit user submitted statements and we cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click the X that appears in the upper right corner when you hover over a comment. This will send the comment to Facebook for review. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Read our full terms and conditions .

We evicted our new tenant.

He was hiding in the garage when we gave him the bad news. We had tempted him to move out with peanut butter and apples, but it took a thorough cleaning to convince the rat to find another home.

My daughter didn’t care. Like most of us, she associates all the pretty things with Mother Nature, like flowers and bunny rabbits, not disgusting vermin.

She also doesn’t think about Mother Nature growing green grass on shingle roofs and brick walls. But times are changing.

Green roofs are quite common in certain parts of the world. Plants can cool the roof by as much as 12 degrees and increase the longevity by two to three times. A 4-inch thick green roof can hold as much as a gallon of water per square foot, helping to alleviate stormwater problems in urban areas. Green roofs are also green, having a positive impact on mental and physical health. In fact, the benefits are so numerous that some countries have mandated all newly constructed flat roofs be green roofs.

Green roofs are typically designed and installed by professionals, using lightweight engineered soil and durable plants. Once a water barrier is established, the green roof can be installed by spreading the soil a minimum of four inches thick and planted. Another method is modular, whereby preplanted 24 by 24 by 4-foot-square containers are secured on the roof for instant greening.

Green roofs aren’t just for buildings. They can be installed on birdhouses and doghouses as a way to increase green appeal and utilize otherwise wasted space. A waterproof barrier can easily be achieved with a thick layer of plastic or the rubber liner typically used in ponds.

The soil doesn’t have to be engineered for small projects. It can be potting soil since the weight won’t be as significant as it is on a house.

Think inside the box to create environmentally friendly green roofs and walls - Post and Courier

If you’d like to mix your own lightweight, well-drained green roof soil, however, combine 75 percent inorganic material, such as expanded clay; with 25 percent topsoil and/or compost. Whenever possible, spread it at least four inches deep.

As for plants, sedums are the predominant selection for extensive green roofs. Succulents with a spreading growth habit can be purchased at local garden centers or ordered online from vendors like www.simplysucculents.com .

If you know someone with sedums, then you’re in luck. Pinch off a stem and stick in potting soil. Most cuttings will root within a couple of weeks and be ready for transplanting.

If greening a roof is out of the question, consider going vertical with green walls. Commercial projects anchor steel grids on buildings to support vines that insulate and soften the architecture.

Green walls don’t have to be complicated. They can be created right at home with simple materials to take advantage of small spaces and empty walls. The most important requirements are irrigation and waterproofing.

You don’t want a green wall to hold moisture against the house and introduce rot or termites.

At Trident Technical College, we’ve stacked colorful milk crates lined with weed fabric and filled with soil. By punching holes in the fabric, we planted petunias and vegetables that lasted most of the summer.

We also repurposed a large greenhouse vent by turning it upside down and filling the louvers and planting sedums.

For indoor appeal, we’ve built framed boxes and secured wire mesh over the top. Once filled, we stuck sedums through the screen to create a living picture.

The challenge is keeping green walls irrigated. Hand-watering from the outside has proven, over the long run, ineffective since it tends to run off the outside. We have integrated drip irrigation through the interior portions to keep the entire root zone sufficiently watered.

To tour a green roof and green wall, visit Moore Botanical Garden in Lake City. It has both, and the green roof is accessible via a spiral staircase.

The nursing building at Trident Tech also has a green roof that is open to the public.

Whether you green your roof or green a wall, keep in mind that Mother Nature loves her cockroaches and yellow jackets as much as she likes her songbirds.

Tony Bertauski is a horticulture instructor at Trident Technical College. To give feedback, email him at tony.bertauski@tridenttech.edu.

Comments

Notice about comments:

The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.

We do not edit user submitted statements and we cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click the X that appears in the upper right corner when you hover over a comment. This will send the comment to Facebook for review. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Read our full terms and conditions .

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