Archive for the ‘environmentally friendly landscaping’ Category

Green roofs are popping up all around the country.  The benefits of these roof top gardens are widely recognized: turning an impervious surface into a pervious one; reducing energy costs; improving air quality; reducing the urban heat island effect; the list goes on.  Despite the need for additional engineering work and sometimes added upfront building costs, this best management practice is really catching on.  Cities like Chicago have hundreds of green roofs, and even small communities like Webster and Friendswood Texas can brag about a green roof in their town.

As the idea of roof top gardens spreads, new ideas continue to pop up.  One of the coolest in my opinion is making the roof top into an actual garden; an edible garden; growing food on your roof.

All of the folks that I can find who have created roof top vegetable gardens are using commercial spaces or multi-family dwellings.  Mostly because they are larger, typically have flat roofs and more accessible.  They also offer opportunities for gardening in urban areas where real estate is at a premium and on the ground space is difficult to come by, it’s the idea of growing up, not out, applied to gardens.

Click on the photos below to check out some  projects where roofs are producing food and improving water quality, not just keeping us warm and dry.

  HigherGroundFarm Higher Ground Farm boasts of being Boston’s first rooftop farm


The Botanical Research Institute of Texas has a more traditional green roof but harvested prickly pear fruit to make jelly


Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn


Royal York Hotel Rooftop Garden in Toronto has taken the local food movement to heart

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We are working with the City of League City on a very exciting and ground breaking project, the Ghiardi WaterSmart Park.  This Park is currently under construction on Louisiana Avenue in League City, Galveston County, Texas. Scheduled for completion next month, this space is much more than just a park.  The 3.75 acre neighborhood space has a pavilion, walking trails and a playground.  It also has special features including rain gardens, a cistern to collect rain water for irrigation, a green roof on the pavilion and WaterSmart landscapes.  The park is also home to the 100+ year old Ghirardi Oak tree that was relocated during the reconstruction of Louisiana Avenue in 2012.

P1010092 - CopyCrew moving the 100+ year old Ghirardi oak tree.

The Ghirardi WaterSmart Park design is based on the three principles of WaterSmart Landscapes: water conservation, water quality and habitat for wildlife.  These three elements are integrated with typical park features to create a unique and water conserving park. (more…)

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A Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalks the new wetland on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center.

Visiting the Johnson Space Center (JSC), you probably anticipate a vision of a high tech future in space.  But to address a more down-to-earth aspect of the space center’s operation, Chris LaChance and I were invited to NASA by Sandy Parker of the JSC Environmental Office to consult on transforming a landscape problem area from boggy lawn to JSC’s first created wetland.

The JSC landscape maintenance contractor, Prodyn EPES, needed a way to deal with the water that pooled in a low spot between a weather station building, parking lots, and a jogging trail. It tended to be too wet to mow, so something else had to be done—and done on a tight budget. At about 2200 square feet, it was too large to be economically practical as a rain garden, which can sometimes require considerable excavation, an underdrain, porous soils, and a selection of predominantly nursery-raised native plants. Chris thought the site had more potential as a created wetland, so she brought me along on the mission.


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Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.

Author Robert Brault writes, “Why try to explain miracles to your kids, when you can just have them plant a garden?” Young children have an innate curiosity and are masters at observation. Encouraged at an early age, they can carry these observation skills throughout their school years and beyond. Attitudes about the environment are formed early, so we should create spaces right outside their doorstep where children can learn to appreciate the wonders found in nature.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, struck a chord that still reverberates, making us realize that our future environmental stewards spend too much time in front of video screens during their formative years. This is the time when making connections with nature can ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime. Opening the door to nature can be as easy as walking across the threshold, whether to a large backyard, a small corner of the front yard, or even a balcony. (more…)

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