Photos by ~ Green Roof Technology
When designing green roofs which encourage human interaction it is important to keep in mind the 5 senses, taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound.
Taste – While the a green roof may be a tough environment for some vegetation to grow, there are still several edible herbs that can provide delicious accents to a meal or tea. Mint, chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano and rosemary are just a few edible herbs that thrive on extensive to semi-intensive green roofs.
Touch – Flowing grasses with prickly seed heads and the fuzzy leaves of Hieracium create a dynamic contrast to the lush springy texture of succulents and sedum. Small berms can be used to integrate ornamental grass areas into extensive green roofs while keeping weight restrictions in check.
Smell – Closely related to taste, many culinary herbs can also employ a richly scented environment. Other fragrant options for green roofs are lavender, polyantha rose “the Fairy”, sage, and Echinacea Daydream.
Sight – One of the many beautiful things about a green roof is there are a multitude of drought tolerant plants which provide year round interest. Late winter and spring welcome a blast of color from crocus, Sedum hybridum “Czar’s Gold,” Dianthus, and Allium. Summer brings forth a variety of extended bloomers including Sedum kamtschaticum, Hieracium, and Telinum. Fall offers a variety of color from Aster Purple Dome, Snowcap Shasta Daisy as well as a red and gold glow from the foliage of several sedums. Winter blankets the roof in festive greens and reds. Sedums kamtschaticum, ‘Czar’s Gold,’ ‘Blue Spruce,’ and spurium ‘John Creech’ maintain their green foliage while Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut,’ moranense, album ‘Coral Carpet,’ and rupestre ‘Angelina’ brighten the season with displays of red and gold.
Sound – Green roofs have the to power to not only clean rain and air pollution but sound pollution as well. When designing a green roof to function as a patio space, consider using plants which rustle in the wind such as grasses. The tall reeds create white noise which helps mask the sound of a busy street.