Creative Greenscaping

Photo credit: FastCoDesign.com

Sometimes the stars align and serendipity results. Today, as I was trying to stay abreast of my work-related e-mails and trade e-newsletters, I encountered two outside-the-box random gardening ideas that were too good not to share with you.

For the first idea, a Spanish landscape artist—Marc Grañén —envisions a future of public transport when all buses and commercial truck trailers sport greenery. Mr. Grañén has dubbed (and patented) the Phytokinetic roof garden system and hopes it is a precedent for future vehicles-turned-mobile gardens that will help purify the air in our urban environments. One such bus sporting a Phytokinetic roof garden is running in Spain and shuttles visitors to and from a nature reserve.

These roof gardens in motion function as CO2 sinks. The Phytokinetic roof absorbs CO2 emitted by the bus as it makes its way across town. The plantings release oxygen that helps clean the air and mitigate environmental heating. The garden also naturally cools the interior of the bus, giving the air conditioning system a break and, as Grañén tells Co.Design, leading to “huge” energy savings. Tests revealed that the prototype roof significantly lowered temperatures inside the bus by 3.5C (38.3ºF).

Click here to read the full article.

The second green-related notion is the concept of urban lumber. The idea encourages us to look differently at the trees we have growing in our yards, particularly older trees in decline or damaged trees. It also challenges landscape architects and designers to think about the end game for trees in commercial landscapes.

The urban lumber concept aligns with a visit to my garden by an arborist a few days ago. We were looking at an old—I refer to it as old growth—plum tree that is in decline and may have only a few more years before it needs to be removed. It has a wonderful gnarly, knobby trunk. The arborist said he met some people recently that would likely have an interest in the wood slabs that could be planed from the old plum when the time comes to remove the tree. The potential value of the wood has the potential to offset the cost of removing the large tree and I would know that it has another life ahead of it as a high-end piece of furniture or something else of value.

A horticultural economist, Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A & M, stated that landscaping returns $1.09 for every $1 spent. Harvesting dead or declining trees for higher a value purpose than mulch or firewood potentially is a way to increase the return on your landscaping investment.

Click here to see landscape designer David Barmon, Fiddlehead LLC, advocate at a TEDx talk for mature trees in urban areasto be used for lumber as well as planning for the future with urban lumber in mind.