Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Green Roofs and Living Walls are Really Just an Adaption of Raised Bed Planting Theory

If you understand raised bed planting theory you know most of what living roofs and walls are about.  Many times people think there are secrets to green roof and living wall design.

In fact, the corporate world has tried to patent many systems that are merely raised beds.

So expand your design considerations today by thinking of green roofs and living walls, not as a mysterious, high-tech approach to growing plants.  Think of your next design project where you need plants (be they flowers, food, natives or landscape specimens) as a raised bed.
Green Roof projects are like Raised Beds!

Questions to ask yourself include;

  • What will your soil media be comprised of?
    • Should be lightweight, well-drained not made from exotic synthetics heated in ovens to thousands of degrees for expansion or molding.  I like simple things, like sharp sand.
  • What are your raised bed (or living roof/wall) side walls made of?  
    • Stay away from materials that are flammable, UV degradable or contain toxins.
  • What plants do you want to use?
  • What is the root architecture of your chosen plants similar to?
    • Do you have deep roots?  Shallow root requirement?
    • Root architecture will direct your soil media depth design.
  • Try and stick with plants that provide food or are pollinator attractors.
    • I like native wildflowers but many designers stick with the tried and true succulents or sedum.
    • Food plants are also wonderful for rooftops and walls if protected from winds.
  • Where will the irrigation water come from?
    • I hate adding water to a roof.  They all eventually leak....but if water is already there, like AC condensate - use it!
  • Views
    • Plantings are mostly always pretty - make sure they can be seen.
  • Access
    • Can you get to the raised bed/rooftop or wall garden?
  • Dont put a raised bed on top of a septic tank and neither install a rooftop garden on a weak rafter system.
    • Common sense
  • and more...
The point here is - think of a rooftop design as a great raised bed in the sky.  Don't wait for the right 'system' to come along.  Go for it, design and install!

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