Our Blog

Browse through our blog posts to find interesting architecture we've noticed, projects we're working on, and articles or links you might find useful.

Our Company Field Trip to Grounds for Sculpture

Each year, everyone at Evan C. Lai Landscape Design, Inc. takes a field trip that's both educational and relaxing. This year, we went to the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. There are 42-acres of land full of sculptures, plantings, and a few museums. Click through the gallery to see some photos of our day there.

 

Improve Your Property Values and Save Money with a Rooftop Garden

by Jonathan Leger

Rooftop gardening might be a new concept to you, but you may be surprised to know that people around the world are seizing the opportunity to improve their homes and enjoy a variety of monetary and "soft" benefits by converting their flat rooftops into garden space.

In Germany, more than 10% of the public have "green" roofs by choice. In Tokyo, 20% of new buildings are required by law to have green roofs. Why is this? What are the benefits of rooftop gardens? In this article, we will explore these questions and provide some sound advice on planning and installing a rooftop garden on your home or building. Read on to learn more.

Rooftop gardens are also referred to as "green" roofs. There are three different types:

1. Ornamental - This type of garden provides enjoyment and leisure opportunities.

2. Functional - This is a crop garden that gives you premium space to grow edible plants.

3. Natural - This type of roof garden is made up of mosses, sedum and other naturally occurring plants. It is low-to-no maintenance yet provides many benefits.

Why Have A Rooftop Garden?

There are many good reasons for installing a rooftop garden in any setting. If you live in the city, making good use of your roof gives you extra space and an opportunity to enjoy being outdoors in a private setting.

No matter where you live, a rooftop garden of any kind can provide significant energy savings. Having your roof protected by a layer of waterproofing topped with soil serves to preserve your roofing materials, thereby lowering your maintenance expenses and keeping used up roofing materials out of the landfill.

Your rooftop garden also improves your property values and the property values of your neighborhood by providing aesthetic appeal and by actually making your neighborhood a more pleasant place to live. A thriving rooftop garden can lower the temperature of the surrounding area by as much as nine degrees in the summer.

The insulation provided by a rooftop garden helps keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer while helping to reduce the effects of global warming. The fact of the matter is, over one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in developed nations come from the heating and cooling of buildings. This is why the government in Tokyo has speculated that their nation could save $1M a day in energy costs by installing green roofs on only half of the existing buildings.

In addition to providing excellent insulation, green roofs also help reduce water run-off in storm conditions. Heavy rainfall is slowed down and filtered through the layer of soil on green roofs. This means reduced flooding and less chance of pollutants and contaminants being circulated in rising waters.

Rooftop gardens provide wonderful relaxing and leisure opportunities. They also improve the general environment of your neighborhood by providing habitat to local fauna such as bees, butterflies, birds and other beneficial wildlife. This helps maintain biodiversity, which is if the utmost importance for all species on the planet.

Things to Keep In Mind When Planning A Green Roofing System

Naturally, when you add a garden to your roof you are adding a great deal of weight. Watering your garden will add even more weight. That's why you must hire a qualified contractor to strengthen your roof in advance and help you plan and carry out your project correctly. Otherwise, you could end up with a great deal of expensive damage. In addition to practical know-how, a good contractor will have knowledge of local ordinances and requirements. He or she can obtain the necessary permits for you and save you a great deal of research and trouble.

Your contractor can help you establish a good plan regarding the maintenance of your garden once it's installed. For example, if you plan an ornamental or practical garden, you will naturally want to spend a lot of time in it. Be sure your roof is easily and safely accessible.

You’ll also want to think about the process and the cost of keeping your garden watered. Even with a natural roof garden, you should have a good system in place for watering because if your soil layer dries out in the summertime, all of your insulation benefits will be gone. In fact, having a layer of hot, dry soil on your roof can significantly increase the temperature of your home.

A good drainage system is of equal importance since you certainly do not want water to pool on your rooftop. For all these reasons, it is easy to see that installing a rooftop garden should not be an entirely do-it-yourself project. Good planning and execution are of the utmost importance.

How Much Will A Rooftop Garden Increase Your Property Values?

It's difficult to put firm numbers on the actual monetary value of installing a rooftop garden. Many of the benefits are considered "soft" in that they provide you with greater enjoyment of your home and give you the opportunity to make creative use of formerly wasted space. The value of this experience varies from person to person and place to place.

Monetary benefits provided by rooftop gardening include the money you can save on energy bills. The exact amount you will save also varies depending on the structure of your home, your location and your personal energy use habits.

The type of rooftop garden you plant will play a big part in determining its monetary value to you. An ornamental garden is a high-maintenance choice, but if you enjoy taking care of your ornamental rooftop garden you may end up saving a great deal of money in entertainment and recreation expenses.

If you plant edible crops, you can enjoy greater food security, a higher quality of food and lower grocery expenses. This choice also provides recreational opportunities if you enjoy food gardening. Your rooftop vegetable garden can be a very pleasant place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

If you just have a natural rooftop garden installed, you may enjoy a no-maintenance relaxing getaway that also helps you reduce your energy usage. This option also provides effortless habitat for beneficial native fauna.

What About Sale Price?

In terms of actual real estate values, your properly installed, well-maintained green roof will not only improve your own property values, it will also raise the marketability and value of the nearby properties. While there is no hard-and-fast data on the amount of value to expect, you can think of it in the same terms as the type of value that is added to a property by the presence of a desirable, mature tree.

If and when you do decide to sell your home, having a green roof is a good drawing card. Green improvements are very popular today, and having a rooftop garden could mean the difference between having your home seen by good prospective buyers or not!

Jonathan Leger is a member of the Garden Writer's Association and a gardening enthusiast. You can check out his website where he shares his passion for the unique plants of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Flourishing plants on the large roof-like terrace of our Park Ave Commercial project designed and built by ECLLD.

 Flourishing plants on the large roof-like terrace of our Park Ave Commercial project designed and built by ECLLD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  A rooftop garden on the Upper East Side designed and built by ECLLD.

  A rooftop garden on the Upper East Side designed and built by ECLLD.

ECLLD Featured in Creative Bloq's Inspirational Designs Post

Creativity begets creativity. Design is not only about looking at a space and sketching at a desk, it's also about looking around at what's out in the world. We're pleased to have our Manhattan East Village Penthouse design featured in "36 Inspiring Examples of Landscape Design on Creative Bloq alongside these other exciting and intriguing designs. Click here to see and read about our design as well as the others.

Saving Seeds for Next Season

sage plant seeds.jpg

With space at a premium on rooftop decks and terraces, the last thing on most home gardeners' minds is to keep withering plants around to harvest their seeds. It can, however, be quite fruitful, when these plants are herbs or vegetables. 

These plants typically have four stages: they will bear "fruit", then flower, then set seeds, and then wither away. During the withering stage, these seeds dry up and fall to the soil to grow again the following year. The key to saving seeds is to wait until the seeds are fully mature and dried on the plant, and then to take them from their pods and store them in your home until you're ready to plant them.

This technique means leaving spent plants around a bit longer than usual, but the result is a harvest of seeds that can last you multiple seasons.

Click here to read more about saving seeds and to see photographs of how it is done.