Landscape & Irrigation

January/February 2016

Landscape and Irrigation is read by decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets — including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water mgmt companies and reaches the entire spetrum.

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CASE STUDY 14 January/February 2016 Landscape and Irrigation PROJECT FRUITION Motherplants brought in 3,000 plugs in November 2012, the earliest the roof could be readied for planting. Mark Winterer, co-owner of Recover Green Roofs, who collaborated on the planting, said, "We had to wait for the ground to thaw every morning before we could plant." However, planting the plugs in a dormant state turned out to have an advantage — their moisture requirements were low; and with supplemental water provided for just the first few weeks after planting, the vast majority of the plants came through the winter and established well. A highly porous, lightweight growing medium was conveyed to the site by a blower truck; it was intended to have less than 10 percent by mass organic matter (OM), because overly fertile soil would preference the growth of certain species over others, which would have upset the plant-community balance the designers sought. (Based on observing overly vigorous growth of some plants, Leopold later commented that 5 percent or less OM would have worked better.) The earth was sculpted with sections of expanded polystyrene geofoam to provide some undulations for aesthetic and microclimate purposes. Jute erosion control mat, while difficult to install on a windy rooftop in November, turned out to be extremely important in stabilizing the friable growing medium against erosion. Irregular flagstone slabs mimicked the limestone and pavement found in the Alvar environment, and provided entry points for teachers and students to gain a closer look at the plants. In terms of the planting, Toland said, "The patterning of the species was based on massing for aesthetic impact and to aid in monitoring." Three-plus years after installation, the green roof plant communities are thriving, and the beautiful outdoor gathering, teaching, and research space is fulfilling its mission. Leopold said, "Given that we are not aware of any similar planting on any other green roof in the U.S., I have been very pleased that the plant species that we selected have generally thrived under these very challenging growing conditions." Hydrologic monitoring has been conducted by SUNY ESF Associate Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering Doug Daley and others to document that the green roof fulfills its stormwater management objectives as well. SUNY ESF and Andropogon Associates received the 2014 Merit Award from the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for the Gateway Center Green Roof. The green roof is open to the public during regular business hours, and is not to be missed if you find yourself in the vicinity of Syracuse, N.Y. Michelle Sutton ( is a horticulturist, writer, and editor. Left: The SUNY ESF Gateway Center Green Roof was designed to be used extensively for teaching about native plants and native plant communities, soil hydrology, entomology and more. Photo by Michelle Sutton Right: Gateway Center Green Roof in July. Photo by Michelle Sutton LI

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