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Julie Guckenberger Price, Stephen A. Watts, Amy N. Wright, Robert W. Peters and Jason T. Kirby

Green roofs are becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States due to their economical and environmental benefits as compared with conventional roofs. Plant selection for green roofs in the variable climate of the southeastern United States has not been well evaluated. Shallow substrates on green roofs provide less moderation of temperature and soil moisture than deeper soils in traditional landscapes, necessitating empirical evaluation in green roof environments to make informed recommendations for green roof plant selection. Nineteen species and cultivars, including succulents, grasses, and forbs, were evaluated under seasonal irrigated and non-irrigated conditions in experimental green roofs. Plants were planted on 26 Oct. 2009 and each evaluated for survival and increase in two-dimensional coverage of the substrate during establishment, after overwintering, and after the first growing season. The winter 2009–10 was colder than normal, and some plants, such as ice plants (Delosperma spp.), considered to be cold-hardy in this climate did not survive through the winter. Irrigation influenced survival for the summer period and only succulent plants like stonecrops (Sedum spp.) survived without irrigation. Irrigated experimental green roofs had significantly lower summer substrate temperatures (up to 20 °F lower) and plants survived in irrigated conditions. Plants that survived both winter and summer under irrigated conditions include pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), mouse-ear tickseed (Coreopsis auriculata), eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix), glade cleft phlox (Phlox bifida stellaria), and eggleston's violet (Viola egglestonii). Irrigation is recommended on extensive green roofs to increase the palette for plant selection by protecting against plant mortality due to drought and extreme soil temperatures.