Recent Posts

What Is the Best Green Roof Media Type?

Posted by Ecogardens


Growing media nourishes green roof plants and helps detain stormwater, but what form does that media take – and which is best for your roof?

Which media to use while building or maintaining a green roof is a question with many possible answers today. While choice is a good thing, it also leads to confusion and analysis paralysis.

Don’t worry; we’re not judging. “Analysis paralysis” is sometimes our middle name.

Yet in the case of green roof media, we can’t afford that. Choosing the best media type during the initial stages of green roof design is critical for the roof to function at its best, detain and retain stormwater with maximum efficiency, and enable future stewardship.

So here’s your brief primer on the best green roof media type, so whip out that notepad (or the tablet that’s already wired to your brainstem) and let’s get started.

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Topics: Green Roofs

How to Combine Solar Panels and Green Roofs

Posted by Ecogardens


Biosolar, or the combination of solar panels and green roofs, is shown to increase the effectiveness of both technologies as compared to each when used independently.

Despite the amazing advancements we’ve made with sustainable rooftop technologies, many people still hold onto archaic beliefs. In all fairness, that’s to be expected in a field that moves quickly and is populated by nerds.

Hey, we’re not throwing stones here. Our house is super glass, ifyouknowwhatwemean.

One of the biggest misunderstandings relates to photovoltaic (solar) panels and green roofs. Specifically, most people are under the impression that they’re mutually exclusive, that they can’t be combined – and that’s just not true.

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Topics: Green Roofs

What Is Smart Irrigation and Who's Getting It Right?

Posted by Ecogardens


Water is too valuable for the cavalier treatment it gets today, especially in the outdoor arena. Here’s what we need to do better … and the smart people who are getting it right.

For centuries, millennia even, we’ve been tending gardens, watering lawns and growing crops. The human condition is, and has been since prehistoric times, one of settlement and husbandry of the land. While the exact methods vary according to era and culture, some of the basic principles and resources are the same across them all – and we’ve become very, very good at using one resource in particular:

Water, yo.

Today, of course, we know that water is far from expendable. Christian Bale’s The Big Short character Michael Burry famously predicted the 2008 housing bubble burst, and thereafter invested his money primarily in water. That’s how precious it’s going to become in this century.

Of course, a lot of people aren’t taking this too seriously. We love our hot showers and our green lawns. According to the EPA, “landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.” Moreover, “In dry climates such as the Southwest, a household’s outdoor water use can be as high as 60 percent.”

This is especially devastating news given the fact that “as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.”

Time to irrigate smarter. Today, we're here to tell you all about the companies that are doing it right. But first ... what exactly is smart irrigation?

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Topics: Stormwater Management, Green Infrastructure

How to Use Green Roofs to Slash Stormwater

Posted by Ecogardens


Green roofs are one of our primary tools in the fight against urban, suburban and rural stormwater runoff.

Pop quiz: What’s the worst thing about rain?

No, it’s not forgetting your poncho and getting soaked on the way to that meeting. Nor is it all the standing water in the Starbucks parking lot, though that’s a bit closer.

The worst thing about rain is the damage stormwater does to our cities and the environment, overflowing sewers and carrying all that raw, toxic muck into our drinking water and wild habitats. We’re talking poo, people. It ain’t pretty.

Like we said, it’s the worst.

One of the best ways to improve our stormwater management efforts is to build more green roofs and ensure that we’re stewarding them properly, so that their benefits continue over the long haul.

Building and maintaining green roofs to maximum effect, however, requires understanding how they work together. Keep reading to find out.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Stormwater Management

How Green Is the Green Building Industry REALLY?

Posted by Ecogardens


Raise your hand if you’re a “green builder” who sometimes doesn’t feel very green at all. Yeah, you’re not alone.

Download the PDF here to share with family and friends for free!

Every industry has its own challenges.

Mattresses have to be comfortable without being squishy. Restaurants must cater to time-honored tastes with comfort dishes, yet innovate. Dog trainers have to instill fancy tricks but also teach their dogs not to bite toddlers, which just has to be hard.

Because occasionally … let’s not lie … we all want to bite toddlers.

The green building and landscaping industry, however, has it particularly rough. While green builders try to do their part to help the environment, there are some very un-environmental practices baked right into the job. Which means, unfortunately, green builders often have to take shortcuts that work against the very benefits they’re trying to provide. Benefits such as:

  • Reduction of resource use
  • Cleaner air, water and soil
  • Better ecosystems for native plants and animals
  • Smaller landfills and healthier oceans

If that depresses you, well, it should. (Can we go back to toddler jokes?) But it doesn’t need to end the conversation, which is what it too often does these days. Instead of throwing your hands in the air and concluding that there’s just “nothing to be done here,” let’s take a deep dive into exactly what’s going wrong – and what that means about potential solutions.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Green Infrastructure

How to Make Your Green Roof Pay

Posted by Ecogardens


Green roofs represent a significant upfront cost, but what if you could get that money back sooner? Here are a few ways to make your green roof pay.

Everyone loves the look of a green roof.

Or at least, everyone should love the look of a green roof. And anyone who doesn’t probably needs to be committed. But hey, we’re biased.

Point being, any roof that has the capacity to support green infrastructure is a good candidate for the increased stormwater management services, detoxifying and cooling abilities, and serious aesthetic appeal offered by green roofing.

Only problem: Them things are expensive.

Most people stop here, assuming that they can’t afford a green roof “right now” … or possibly ever. But that’s not taking into account the many options available for decreasing the upfront burden, as well as upping the roof’s ROI over time.

It’s time to consider both. Here’s how to make your green roof pay today.

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Topics: Green Roofs

What Is a Pollinator and Why Does It Matter?

Posted by Ecogardens


Pollinators are and always have been incredibly important to humanity, but we don’t treat them way. It’s time to wake up and give pollinators the respect and protection they deserve.

If you’re one of the many who think of butterflies as something cute that lands on Bambi’s nose, and birds as creatures to decorate your feeder, well … you’re not alone.

And to be fair, they are those things. But they’re also critical to the overall health of our environment, as well as a crucial link in the human food chain.

Why? Because they’re pollinators.

Despite all the fuss on the news and in scientific journals over the last several decades, though, too many laypeople are still left scratching their heads and wondering, “What is a pollinator?”

Those who do have an inkling usually associate the word with bees, having no idea that the category is so much larger than that. But don’t feel bad; you’re not alone.

That said, it’s time we do something about this misunderstanding. Because while we think bees rock, they are show-stealers. If we’re to heal the environment and bridge the gap between city and nature, answering the question “What is a pollinator?” should be at the top of the list.

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Topics: Pollinators

How to Maintain a Green Roof for Maximum Benefits

Posted by Ecogardens


Taking care of your green roof does more than keep it pretty, but do you know how to do so for maximum benefit?

Maintenance is an important part of any living system. When we cultivate something, we must keep cultivating it in order for it to survive – and offer the benefits we’re looking for.

Green roof, rain garden, bioswale, even a nature-scaped yard … these are all natural habitats forced into populated areas. Even with the right mix of native plants, these systems are unlikely to survive on their own within the milieu of human habitation.

So today’s question is: How can you maintain your green roof for maximum benefits? How should you think about maintenance in the first place, what benefits are we talking about, and how can you achieve them?

It starts with a better definition of maintenance.

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Topics: Green Roofs

Pharmaceuticals for Fish: What Our Drug Industry Is Doing to Our Waterways

Posted by Ecogardens


Have an owie? Pop a pill! We humans rely heavily on drugs that make us feel better, kill pain and put us to sleep … but now animals are paying the price. 

What do you get when you combine aquatic animals and antidepressants?

The start of a really good joke … or at least, so it seems at first. Sadly, that’s as far as it goes. Because believe it or not, Earth’s fishy folk are actually exposed to regular (and sometimes shockingly high) doses of pharmaceuticals.

It’s not just them, either. Mammals, crustaceans, snails and other animals are also affected. And in almost all cases, it’s not an improvement.

If we want to keep our urban ecology shipshape, it’s time we take a hard look at this issue … and do something about it.

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Topics: Stewardship

What Is Stormwater Runoff and How Can We Manage It?

Posted by Ecogardens


Stormwater runoff is a problem plaguing cities, but many people don’t know what to do about it. We say understanding is the first step, so let’s start there.

When you wake up to a stormy morning and look out your window, you likely think nothing of it. Rain happens all the time, after all. It’s just what nature does. The coffee, on the other hand, will not make itself.

And that’s about when the average person stops thinking about rain … if they even get that far.

The trouble is, not thinking about it doesn’t make it go away. Cities still deal with hundreds of billions of gallons of precipitation every year from both rain events and snowmelt.

Seriously, hundreds of billions. And where does it go? Right into our streets, sewers and waterways. It’s time to not only answer the question of what is stormwater runoff, exactly, but also to lay plans to manage it more effectively.

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Topics: Stormwater Management