What Is Peat and Why Should We Protect It?

Posted by Ecogardens


Peat is a nonrenewable resource that we’re using at alarming rates, wreaking havoc on the environment as we do.

Peat is one of our main gardening staples. It’s used in applications ranging from potting plants to amending soil to starting seeds.

Inarguably, it’s an awesome tool in the landscaping and gardening fields. Its comparative cheapness compared to composts and other amendments makes it appealing right there. Add in excellent water and nutrient retention, soil lightening capabilities and pH adjustment, and you have a shoo-in of a gardening material.

The problem? Peat is not a renewable resource, no matter what some stakeholders might claim. And that’s really bad for the world.

If we want to be better environmental stewards, we need to understand the consequence of peat’s use, as well as what we can do to fix the issue.

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Topics: Stewardship

Why We Need a Better Stewardship Meaning Now

Posted by Ecogardens


We need a better approach to ecology if we’re going to pull our world back from the brink on which it’s currently teetering, and that means a better stewardship meaning.

We humans have a tendency to simplify. While we think of ourselves as deep thinkers – and we often are, happily – we are also very good at Glossing Over Important Things and Reducing Complex Meanings to Shallow Understandings.

Take a look at any ecological buzzword and you’ll see what we mean:

  • Green
  • Sustainable
  • Stewardship

These are words that have deep, multilayered connotations, but we toss them around as though they’re quite simplistic. The last one, especially, gets a surface treatment – and that’s a problem. Because until we understand the true important of the word stewardship we have very little chance of applying it properly.

We need a better stewardship meaning.

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Topics: Stewardship

5 Ways Regular Stewardship Impacts Green Roof Health

Posted by Ecogardens


Many people assume that green roofs are self-sustaining systems, but in fact they need continuous care to remain healthy and efficient.

It takes more than rainfall and prayers to ensure green roof health.

Unfortunately, while our sense of environmentalism develops by the day – and we’re seeing an explosion of green roofs as a result – too few people are talking about what it takes to keep a roof green after it’s built.

As in, once we implement a living system, how can we ensure that it remains balanced over time?

The overarching answer is stewardship: routine check-ins that ensure a green roof is performing as expected, that plants are safe and protected, and that animal communities are flourishing. Do this, and you’ll see major benefits from green roof health.

Without further ado, here are five benefits of regular stewardship:

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Topics: Stewardship

How Initial Green Roof Design Impacts Stewardship

Posted by Ecogardens


While good stewardship helps keep a green roof sound throughout the decades of its life, you’re fighting a losing battle without good design.

On the surface, green roof design and stewardship might seem like two wholly different aspects of the green roofing process.

Design and installation are completely done by the time stewardship takes over, after all. They exist in two distinctly separate phases, leading some to believe that the one doesn’t impact the other. Design is one-and-done. Stewardship comes on later, and if it’s good, can keep a green roof healthy no matter what.

… Right?

Not necessarily.

Truth is, design and stewardship are inextricably intertwined. Yes, good design – based on sound scientific concepts and artful creativity – should set a roof up for life. And yes, excellent stewardship does help any green system weather the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

But without good design, stewardship is set up for a fall. Let’s talk about why the right approach is so important from the very beginning.

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Topics: Stewardship

How Does Regular Stewardship Impact Stormwater Retention?

Posted by Ecogardens


Keeping your green roof in great shape is the best way to reap maximum stormwater benefits.

Forget Snuggies, fast food and terrible teen pop.

Stormwater is the real crime of this century.

Combined sewer overflows, the result of rainwater overloading the sewers and spitting filth into the streets, carry disease into our cities and waterways. It sheets over asphalt and concrete, sweeping pollutants right along with it.

Rural areas suffer from stormwater troubles as well, but it’s really the cities that desperately need better methods of keeping rain and snowmelt out of the sewers.

That’s where green roofs come in, trapping and detaining stormwater during rain events. They keep water there for hours or days, relieving the sewers of undue pressures resulting from all that water entering all at once.

Of course, they only provide those benefits if stewarded well.

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Topics: Stewardship

How to Maintain Green Infrastructure for Peak Performance Year Round

Posted by Ecogardens


Stewardship is a critical factor in getting the most out of your green system, whether your goal is beauty or environmental benefits or both. Here’s how to get peak performance.

You have a green roof, or perhaps another green system. Whether it was recently installed or is 10 years old, you want it to work well.

Ideally, you want it to work very well. Year-round peak performance is the goal.

(One assumes. Let’s just go with it.)

But how do you accomplish that? In other words, what are the basic tasks involved in stewarding a green roof environment?

Glad you asked. Here’s a basic rundown of how you should steward your green system – whether a rooftop garden, bioswale or another kind of green infrastructure – all year round.

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Topics: Stewardship

Moving Beyond Simple Sustainability: Building Strong Ecologies in Urban and Rural Areas

Posted by Ecogardens


Sustainability is a buzzword we hear a lot, but do we truly understand what’s needed to preserve the health of urban and rural areas? Our interview with Keith Bowers provides a look at how we can move beyond a simple idea of sustainability, toward a truly rich ecology across our nation and the globe. 

(Download a PDF version of the report to share with friends and colleagues for free)

Since our earliest days, we have felt a divide between human habitation and the Wild – a vast unknown that, for much of human history, was populated with monsters and nightmares too frightening to comprehend.

We create light where once was darkness, water where formerly the desert reigned, high walls where saber-toothed cats stalked at will. Our singular goal has been to fulfill an evolutionary mandate to keep our own species safe at all costs, even if that means railroading the other organisms with whom we share this planet and destroying the resources upon which they depend.

Today, we’re waking up to the fact that … come to think of it … we depend on those resources too, and it would be a real bummer if they were gone by our children’s or grandchildren’s generation. Even without such a strong motivator, preserving the Earth for its other inhabitants is, we can agree, the right thing to do.

Luckily for the rest of the human race, some forward thinkers spotted this issue years back. They have spent decades fighting against the negative impacts of profligacy and shortsighted development trends, and setting new ones in place.

Ecology has proven one of the most fruitful of these fields. Its sturdy relationship with other buzzwords – sustainability, resiliency, environmentalism – points to its importance, yet others might say it confuses the issue as well.

Keith Bowers is one of the latter.

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Topics: Stewardship

How Does Regular Stewardship Impact Public Health?

Posted by Ecogardens


We tend to forget about our green roofs once they’re built, but it turns out stewardship and public health are strongly related. Translation: It’s crucial to maintain green systems over time.

While stewardship and public health might not be a relationship you’ve spent a lot of time considering until now, it’s time to break that trend.

Green roofs get a lot of praise for managing stormwater and providing animal habitat (though perhaps not as much credit as they should get), but we don’t spend a lot of time talking about how they benefit human health.

Well, they do. And that’s what we’re here to discuss today.

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Topics: Stewardship

Green Roofs and Stewardship: Why One Can’t Live Without the Other

Posted by Ecogardens


Stewardship, a partnership between a green roofer and its caretakers intended to keep it viable long into the future, is critical if we don’t want ecological design to fail.

We hear a lot about green roof maintenance.

The word gets tossed around in landscape architecture and ecological design, the clear implication that as long as you attend to a system in some way, it will do just fine.

However, the assumption underlying the concept of maintenance – that you can take the same cookie-cutter approach on a twice-yearly basis to each green roof – fails to consider one important truth:

No two green roofs are alike.

If you haul the same bucket of supplies up every time, without testing and inspecting plants and components, then eventually you will miss problems. First little ones, and then big.

Maintenance, in other words, is not enough.

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Topics: Stewardship

How Does Environmental Stewardship Impact Urban Ecology?

Posted by Ecogardens


Environmental stewardship might feel like a tall order within city limits, but the simple act of caring for green roofs can do more for nature than you think.

We suffer from a very one-and-done mentality in our society.

Want a new jacket? Buy one online. Need a restaurant recommendation? It’s at your fingertips; no need to call your friends anymore. Have to meet city requirements and install a green roof.

No problemo. Expert called; project accomplished. Now you never have to think about it again.

If you think we’re joking, think again. We’ve seen more dead or dying green roofs than we can count, all because regulations require their installation but not their maintenance. We’re lacking a very basic component of environmental stewardship here: upkeep.

It’s not just the green roofs or other manmade systems that pay for this neglect, either. It’s the plants and animals that make up our natural world.

If we want to do what we can to help the ecology of our cities, we need to make a change.

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Topics: Stewardship