The Difference Between Maintenance and Stewardship

Posted by Ecogardens


While the words “maintenance” and “stewardship” are often confused, they are in fact two distinct concepts that we need to sort out immediately, for the sake of the environment and our cities.

Simultaneously, the word maintenance has been unjustly deified as something toward which we should strive in matters of landscaping and green roofing.

We take issue with that.

And not in a minor way, like we take issue with anchovies on pizza or calling all organic food “farm to table.”

No, we take real issue with it. Because the truth is, when we confuse these two words, we dilute the benefits of green infrastructure and fail to safeguard them like we ought.

Boo to that.

Let’s discuss why we need true stewardship so much, and how to get there.

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Topics: Stewardship

What Is Green Roof First Aid and When Do You Need It?

Posted by Ecogardens


A green roof, like any other system, can get sick. When that happens, you need first aid fast – but how do you recognize it?

Put down the chai latte and come out of that lotus pose for a moment. Turn off the whale songs too. We promise this won’t take long.

Okay. That’s better. Now we have a question for you:

When you imagine green roof stewardship, what do you see?

If you’re like most people, your answer is something along the lines of, Wait, green roofs need stewardship? Don’t they, like, take care of themselves?

Now, we know you regard green roofs (and green infrastructure in general) highly, but that’s not the same as knowing what’s best for an ecological system. Don’t feel bad; even some of the greatest minds in the industry occasionally forget there’s a post-handoff step: stewardship.

Sadly, not all systems get the care they need on an ongoing basis, which is where green roof first aid becomes necessary.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How Does Regular Stewardship Impact Energy Costs?

Posted by Ecogardens


Want to keep those energy costs low and protect that budget? Keeping your green roof sound is the place to start.

Keeping your green roof nice should provide its own motivation, but let’s face it: Life is busy.

There are meetings to attend and spouses to appease and dogs to feed. (Also, we should feed our children occasionally.)

We can’t always get to everything on the to do list, and the fact of the matter is, green roofs often take the hit when it comes to schedule rearrangements.

Sometimes for months. Or years.

The problem with that is, you could be wasting a huge amount of money on energy costs and setting yourself up for big problems later.

So just how do green roofs and stewardship work together, and how does regular oversight reduce energy costs? Let’s take a look.

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Topics: Stewardship

What You Should Know About Gardening for Pollinators

Posted by Ecogardens


We rely on pollinators for our food supply and other important plant crops, so it’s time we turn our gardens to their benefit.

Hanging hummingbird feeders are a lovely addition to the landscape, and no doubt your teeny feathered friends appreciate them.

No really, they do. We asked them.

But that’s not enough. With our ongoing destruction of natural landscapes in the building of urban and rural human structures, pollinators have faced steady habitat depletion. Many of them no longer have resting places or food, and so are declining alarmingly.

“Worldwide there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered from loss of habitat, chemical misuse, introduced and invasive plant and animal species, and diseases and parasites,” explains Pollinator Partnership, adding that many are federally “listed species,” animals for whom there is empirical evidence of destruction and decline.

It’s time we start gardening for pollinators.

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Topics: Pollinators

Why Do Pollinators Matter So Much?

Posted by Ecogardens


Wondering why pollinators matter? Because they help feed us and keep the environment in good shape.

With all the hype about honeybees these days, you’ve likely wondered at least once why pollinators matter.

We don’t blame you. The coverage of devastating (but probably overblown) conditions such as Colony Collapse Disorder have made it seem as though A Giant Bee Crisis and Probably Worldwide Famine are imminent.

We don’t mean to make light of environmental degradation, but you can relax: That’s not going to happen soon.

More importantly, the fearmongering over the honeybees has obscured other important issues, leading fewer people to ask themselves why pollinators matter beyond honeybees.

The simple answer to that question is: Pollinators provide services that humans simply can’t mimic by hand or with machines, so we must protect them at all costs.

Here’s a closer look.

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Topics: Pollinators

The Definition Of Stormwater And What It Means For You

Posted by Ecogardens


Stormwater is liquid that results from rain, snow and other forms of precipitation. In an urban environment, we typically use the term “stormwater” in the context of surface water that aggregates on impermeable surfaces. 


It just sounds kind of scary, right?

I mean, you’ve heard the term. You know it’s a problem. You understand that addressing it is of critical importance.

But unless you work in landscaping or an environmental niche, you may not understand what to do about it. As a homeowner, building manager, investor or institution, you probably feel unsure what your responsibility to the environment should take – and that’s okay.

Let’s talk about the definition of stormwater and what it means for you today.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

Why You Should Get a Rooftop Garden Today

Posted by Ecogardens


Rooftop gardens bring more than beauty and energy to a formerly lackluster space. They also bring nature into the city, IMPROVING human health and offering valuable real estate for plants, pollinators and other wildlife.

Ever look out your office window and seen people having drinks on a rooftop garden across the way – and feel a serious urge to gatecrash their party?

Ever wish you could turn that abandoned roof space into a plant-bedecked, fairy light-strewn Eden, right in your own building?

Ever want to increase the psychosocial and physical healing times at your hospital with an elaborate green roof space, but you’re not sure how?

You, my friend, need a rooftop garden.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Pollinators

How to Bridge the Gap Between Resilience and Sustainability

Posted by Ecogardens


While sustainability and resilience should mean the same thing in urban ecological design, they too often do not – leading to misunderstandings that work against both.

The word “sustainability” conjures up everything from reusable grocery bags to solar panels to biofuel to green roofs … but how many of us actually use the word correctly in reference to any particular system?

Moreover, how many of us ensure, when we use it, that we’re actually contributing to the overall resiliency of the system in question?

We recently had a chance to speak with the inimitable Keith Bowers, president of Biohabitats and a renowned landscape architect and restoration ecologist. One of his most interesting ideas, in our humble opinion, is that resilience and sustainability should amount to the same thing, but too often they do not.

The question is, where did this divide come from, and what can we do to heal it for the sake of understanding urban ecology and creating meaningful programs to foster it in cities?

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Topics: Urban Ecology, Green Infrastructure

How to Develop a Rural Stormwater Management Plan

Posted by Ecogardens


Rural stormwater management is a critical – and often under-addressed – need in our world today. Anywhere humans live, we need a smart plan for purifying water and funneling it where it needs to go. 

We should definitely celebrate the fact that stormwater management has become a better-known concept in cities across America.

* pause for champagne and party crackers *

However, the focus on cities has had one unintended side effect: In the effort to respond to urban needs, many people have forgotten the importance of rural stormwater management.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

How to Minimize the Impact of Nocturnal Lighting on Animals

Posted by Ecogardens


To us dark-defying humans, flipping on a light at night is as natural as eating or breathing. Unfortunately, it is incredible unnatural for many animals that rely on darkness to thrive.

It’s easy to go through daily life ignoring our surroundings, especially our external environments when we’re cozied up inside for the night.

Garage lighting? What of it? You don’t want someone to steal the basketball hoop, after all.

Office buildings lit up like Christmas trees all night long? Well, of course! We wouldn’t want miscreants to get the wrong idea – and plus, that skyline looks awfully pretty.

Problem is, the massive amount of light we put out each night is a form of pollution. In addition to obscuring a beautiful night sky, it confused birds and other animals that travel, eat or live their lives after the sun goes down. It’s seriously disruptive to our urban ecology.

We need to do something about it, and now.

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Topics: Urban Ecology, Pollinators