Nancy Luong and I met on November 14 to continue planting the modules. We were told that there were 25 spots (5 rows and 5 columns) in each module for the plants to be planted. The plants were assigned randomly to what spot they would be planted in but we made sure no two plants were in the same row. We had an even distribution of succulent plants (we even used year old succulent plants from last year’s research project) herbaceous plants and a mixture of succulent and herbaceous plants. We did this to see how the different types of plants would react to the conditions on top of the roof and with each other. Planting the plants was harder than I thought since we only had our hands as tools, but it was an interesting experience. We haven’t started the irrigation project yet but that should be coming up in the next couple of days. There’s only a couple more weeks left in the project and I could not be more excited to see our final outcome!
We finally got started on the irrigation! I came later in the day on Tuesday, November 13th and got to help Kirk with the irrigation on the left side of the green roof.
Kirk already had the pipe laid out so the next step was fitting them together. If you’ve never done irrigation before, or worked with PVC pipe before, the process is not too complicated.
The irrigation design originally had a single sprinkler head at the center of the modules that would water the area in an even circular area, but this was changed to four sprinkler heads at each of the corners. To accomplish this new design, pipe was laid around the perimeter of the modules and a type of 90° fitting with a third opening on the top was attached at each of the corners. This third opening was for the sprinkler head that will be attached later on.
To attach the pipes we took various pipefittings and couplings* and cut the pipe with special PVC cutters. Pipe primer is then wiped on the outside tip of the pipe about to be attached and wiped on the inside of the fitting that the pipe will go into. After about 20 seconds of drying time for the primer, pipe glue is then applied in the same manner. Immediately after applying the glue, the pipe is then pushed as far as possible into the fitting and held there for about 20 seconds. If the pipe is let go too early, it will slide slightly out of the fitting and increase the chance of leakage. We did this general process for the whole system until the left side of the green roof was completed.
I learned much from this experience. When I heard we were going to set up an irrigation system, I expected a complex system and an equally complex process of building the system. I was pleasantly surprised! It was not such a daunting task at all and I picked up some handy experience along the way!
* A Note on Couplings vs. Fittings: Couplings are a type of fitting that have two openings and run at 180° attaching two pipes into a single line. A fitting is any pipe attachment that has an angle less than 180°, like a 45° or 90°.
I’ve really enjoyed getting my feet wet with some Horticulture experience this semester. As an Environmental Studies major, propagating plants was something new to me. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving me and a few other students gathered in the Greenhouses to move plants into larger containers, frill their roots, and provide them with more soil. Pulling a plant out of tray is easier said than done. Since their deep storage root is the only thing one can grab onto, without breaking the plant, Nancy and I ended up getting enough soil under our finger nails to fill a pot. We also ran into some surprises. We found lots of little bugs on some of the plants! Kirk informed us of they were Meelybugs. These are small white bugs, they were sitting in large numbers on the stem of a handful of plants we were dealing with. They were found on multiple plant species. I learned that they are a pretty common green house pest, but can be very destructive. The plants we found with the Meelybugs we dipped in an insecticide. We could have been in trouble, if no one noticed the tiny bugs they could have propagated themselves all over our green roof modules. I’ve definitely been learning Horticulture tidbits throughout the entire project, I’m happy to say I’ve got some Horticultural experience under my belt now.
Ao Shi, Cam Bartzen, Nancy Luong and I met up to start putting the modules together. We first put gravel into the modules and then placed a green filter that acted as a barrier to keep the soil and gravel apart from each other. Then we added soil on top of the filter and transported the 162 modules to the roof. In my opinion I thought this was a huge achievement in the project because, besides irrigation and planting, all the major work had been finished. It all started coming together. We had already put the membranes down on the roof and created walk ways and all we needed was the modules now. To celebrate how far we’ve come we had coffee and do-nuts to celebrate. We weren’t able to start the irrigation process that day because it started raining and we didn’t have the right equipment. It seems like our hard work is paying off!
This is the state of our green roof beginning at 2 pm on November 9, 2012.
Today I went on the roof and started planting on the modules with three other students. The layout was not what I expected at all. Each module has five different species and is arranged in different patterns. I suspect this is the case because plants interact differently when in close proximity, and also there might be competition for water sources as certain plants extend their roots further out than others. The plants all have different heights too, so there might be competition for light. Planting was not all that difficult. The plants are measured and planted 4 inches from each other with 25 species in each module. The hardest part was making sure the holes were deep enough for the plant not to fall over. We dug with our bare hands so it was a little rough on my fingers. Luckily the soil was moist so once it was moved out of the way it stayed out of my way. We finished 6 and a half modules before we had to leave. Only time will be able to tell if the plants flourish on our man-made green roof.
Greg and Yessenia are looking over the layout plan.
Andre tests the soil.
These are the plants set out for group 6.
Finished this module in group 5 with Andre’s help
We moved on to group 6 with completely different species
Ao is planting the last ones while Greg is watering the finished modules
Notice how different the plants are. This module is almost complete.
It was time for my departure but this is the view of the right side from the walkway
We started on a module in group 9 but we are not finished because we ran out of species 1.
Andre is watering the left side of the roof in preparation for next week.
This Wednesday, November 7, we began the long awaited process of planting! A team comprised of about ten students went hard to work at planting succulent plants. Twelve modules were planted, each consisting of twenty five plants, bringing the grand total to 300 plants that were planted! The planting procedure was very detailed and had to be followed precisely. The planting arrangement was concocted based on the idea that no particular plant should have an advantage over another in terms of where it is located. In order to achieve this, a chart was made that generated random positions for each plant. The planting process is expected to take nearly 20 man hours to plant the remaining 3750 plants that are left!
When I stumbled on the flyer advertising this green roof project during the last week of August and ran around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get into the class for it, I really had no idea what to expect. Sure, I knew what a green roof was; sure, I had idealistic, environmentalist dreams of communities that wanted green roofs and built them with and for the benefit of their own resources. I had no idea, however, how to go about making that happen. I could tell someone the benefits of having a green roof, but I could not help them build one.
Ten weeks later, that is no longer the case. I know why and how we put down roof tiles (protection of the fragile Langford roof), how to get innovative when donated materials aren’t quite what was hope for (drill, hammer, block of wood, pocket knife), how to test soil for moisture (and how to find my way around the horticulture forest science building to find where to learn that), how to assemble the modules for planting (gravel, buffer layer, and – of all things – play sand), how many modules can fit in the bed of Kirk’s truck (30+), and the importance of variables such as types of plants and exposure to sun.
I wouldn’t know any of these things without the instructors and the other students involved in the project. I’m a parks and natural resources management major so getting to work with a number of horticulture, landscape architecture, and meteorology majors is such an opportunity to learn so many things. I am lucky to be part of a group of students and faculty that have so much to share with each other.
There is still so much more to know. We have begun to put plants in the modules on the roof, and we are about to install an irrigation system. I know that the work doesn’t end there, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue learning from this project and the people involved in it for the rest of the semester.
The students from the school of geosciences received a very large shipment of atmospheric data measurement equipment last week! This equipment will go on the roof to monitor the weather and how the green roof is affecting it.
During the month of October, big changes were happening on the roof. We completed laying down the pods for the plants. During the weeks of November, we will finally begin planting! Here is the process of the students putting dirt … Continue reading →