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Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls Hardcover – Apr 15 2008
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Green roofs are a hot topic, and one that constitutes a trend extending well beyond the world of gardening. This sourcebook brings together a fascinating amount of data, covering the actual logistics of how to implement plantings on roofs and building facades. Dunnett and Kingsbury look at examples of ornamental projects while stressing the concept's solid link to the environment. Examinations of recent research underline the wide-ranging benefits of greening buildings, from recreational aspects to increased energy efficiency. Among the most positive changes to emerge are improvements in the air we breathe and the support of biodiversity. Given the lively current interest in how to extend living ecosystems that reach beyond the ground plane to the upper stories of our homes and office buildings, this resource offers important technical advice, along with horticultural recommendations pertinent to flat or sloped roofs and the greening of vertical surfaces. Undoubtedly, other manuals will appear as an interest in living roofs increases. At present, the material compiled here will be welcomed by a wide audience. Alice Joyce
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
—National Gardener, July 2004
“For those who lack a yard and want to green a roof or wall, this resource offers important technical advice, along with horticultural recommendations for flat, sloped, and vertical surfaces. Dunnett and Kingsbury review examples of ornamental projects and stress the wide-ranging benefits of greening buildings, from recreational aspects to increased energy efficiency.”
“Gardening gurus will appreciate the thorough knowledge the writers share regarding various techniques and resources required to plant green roofs and living walls, discussing, for example, how soil depth and environmental stress will affect plant choice and maintenance.”
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Good notes on plant species but I would have liked a more in depth section on actually the structure that needs to be built underneath the plants.
The reader will have to decipher what information is relevant to their area.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The living wall section on the other hand was thin. There was no mention of the living wall system Patrick Blanc developed which is much more interesting than putting up a wire trellis and planting vines next to it. The other comment i would have is that almost all of the examples are from Europe. We have fabulous examples in the US with more relevant plant materials and weather conditions.
Finally I would say that the authors didn't seem interested in exploring native plant materials and instead focused on a few cookie cutter plants commonly planted all over the northern hemisphere. Not unlike McDonalds.
Organic Architecture with Plants
Greenroofs, living walls, and various other bio-engineering techniques are introduced and the authors cite the associated benefits and reasons why we should be integrating these measures of organic architecture into our built environments. The authors refer to current international research and technology; background and history are touched on; and benefits and applications of these "ecotechnologies" are discussed at length. Yet, a "How-To Build" book this is not; basic principles are set out and tools for further research are provided.
Benefits at a Range of Scales
The section "Why Build Green Roofs?" explores hard evidence and the various benefits operating at a range of scales from amenity and aesthetic values to economic and environmental aspects. Increased roof life, insulation and energy efficiency, green building assessment and public relations, biodiversity and wildlife value, water management, air pollution, and fire prevention and risks are discussed with supporting evidence.
Although previously well known, the biodiversity and wildlife value of greenroofs is expanded upon here, including the new British models of "brown" or "rubble" greenroofs - those which recreate the thin, infertile landscapes of disturbed brownfield sites. Spontaneous colonization is presented as an important natural occurrence.
A Vast Array of Planting Opportunities
The authors rightly note that "The majority of guides to green roofs and roof greening concentrate on the technical and construction aspects but have relatively little to say about planting opportunities - mainly because most authors are not plant specialists." Well, Noël - a well known writer of plants and gardens, and Nigel - a senior lecturer in the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield, most certainly are plant experts, and an entire 47-page chapter is devoted to the wide range of planting opportunities for extensive greenroofs, beyond the ubiquitous albeit hugely successful use of Sedum species.
Prevailing site conditions will always dictate the plant selection, so designers need to know what plant species will not only survive but thrive in extreme local conditions. Desirable physical attributes of plants and how they may be established and managed are presented. Considerations of monocultures, single plant combinations and mixtures, and plant communities are useful as planting design tools. The form and physiology of suitable greenroof plants are nicely covered from a botanical as well as functional and aesthetic perspective. Issues of viewing considerations are pondered and design solutions are offered relating to the roof function and visual criteria. "Methods of vegetation establishment" is particularly detailed and thus extremely valuable. The authors point out, however, that current research is insufficient to show how long each species will live and how each species will interact over the years atop roofs.
The very important aspect of different growing medium properties and functions is addressed in-depth, and comments are provided about particular types of materials, substrate depths, and accompanying vegetative possibilities. Maintenance issues and requirements are briefly noted, touching on feeding, plant protection, drainage, and weeding.
Considerations of Natives and Introduced Species
The unexploited opportunities of testing and using native vegetation are explored, in terms of increasing biodiversity and aesthetic benefits. Regionally native plants should be tested for many reasons, including ecological restoration. Non-native plant species with invasive tendencies can be a problem, therefore careful selection is critical to maintain healthy ecosystems. Yet many introduced species are appropriate, and there are many circumstances where non-natives offer considerable local wildlife value.
Certain natural plant communities and their soil types are explained and presented as an argument for further study as suitable models for successful roof plantings. Trialing of appropriate local plant communities is therefore recommended and encouraged so as ultimately to be able to introduce more natives into the greenroof matrix of plant species.
"The natural habitats of potential roof-greening plants" explores the potential to discover and trial the world's flora found in similar harsh habitats. Mountain, high latitude, coastal, limestone, sclerophyllous woody vegetation, semi-desert environments, and species whose plants are exposed to climatic extremes are regions with potential for testing of new roof greening plants.
The Task Has Just Begun
Philosophy and advice to greenroof plant enthusiasts can be summed up with these reflections by the authors: "With roof greening becoming an important part of the new built environment, it is increasingly important that more attention is paid to sourcing new plant material from habitats in the wild where conditions approximate those on rooftops and other problem urban situations...The task of selecting suitable plant species for roof greening has arguably just begun, and it offers potentially enormous rewards."
They are quick to point out that the globalization of our knowledge base and the ready availability of certain aggressive species can threaten entire ecosystems, and care must be provided to the selection of greenroof environments (just as at ground level) so as to avoid invasive and potentially destructive non-natives or introduced species.
Façade Greening and Living Wall Structures and Surfaces are the final two chapters of the book, offering both visual and ecological climbers, clingers, ramblers and scramblers. New support structures, materials, technologies and details provide practical and interesting information for this older yet equally fascinating design element of green architecture. The authors examine how the design of façade greening can equally disguise unattractive features while at the same time enhance existing surfaces. In either case, education and care are necessary to promote vigorous growth that is supported by a variety of vertical and/or horizontal structures.
At the end of the book, 49 pages are devoted to the Roof-Greening and Façade-Greening Plant Directories, listed by botanical names, common names, cultivars and related species. The horticultural and cultural aspects are presented with definitions and listings of many specific plant characteristics.
A minor grumbling on my part about the book is the absence of identifying greenroof project photo captions for the geographic locations and the building application types. It would be beneficial to know not only where each is located, but also whether the project is commercial, industrial, residential, etc.
A Dovetailing of Living Plants, the Building, and Its Human Users
Whereas Ted Osmundson's excellent 1999 "Roof Gardens: History, Design, and Construction" is considered the bible for the intensive greenroof crowd, Nigel Dunnett and Noel Kingsbury's "Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls" is simply a must have for extensive and intensive greenroofers worldwide.
"Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls" is a comprehensive argument for integrating nature and architecture, and I highly recommend it. It's obvious that Kingsbury and Dunnett are first and foremost dedicated, ecologically minded plantspeople; here, then, is a very important work for those of us in the greenroof industry. ~ Linda S. Velazquez, Publisher Greenroofs.com
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