The Outsider: Rooftop Meadowscape in Park Slope

WELCOME TO THE OUTSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly column about the ways Brooklynites use their outdoor spaces, from backyard to roof and in between. Written and produced by Cara Greenberg, you can find it here every Sunday at 8AM. 

 

‘LANDSCAPE URBANISM’ is the specialty of Future Green Studio, according to the Gowanus-based firm’s website. Meaning what, exactly? Principal David Seiter explains: “Typically, landscape architecture looked at parks and gardens, but as we’ve moved into denser urban environments, we’ve started to consider under-utilized spaces as landscape — streets, roofs, spaces between buildings, vacant lots, waterfronts, all sorts of post-industrial areas.” Landscape urbanism deals with “emerging landscape typologies,” like rainwater catchment systems and the overlooked potential of wild urban plants (otherwise known as weeds), “looking not just through an aesthetic but a productive or performative lens.”

That doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty. This 25′x50′ townhouse rooftop was conceived, says Seiter, as a “desert meadowscape of grays, pinks, and purples” — grown in 6-8″ of soil to limit weight load. The primary plants are grasses, flowering sedum, and groundcovers, planted in a random mix. Because the client had a strong interest in botanical diversity, “We packed in a lot of different plants,” Seiter says. As opposed to a monoculture, or using four or five plants repeated in various places, “Everything is a specimen.” And extremely drought-tolerant; there’s an irrigation system, but it’s used only two or three times a season.

The roof’s architecture was designed by N Architects in DUMBO. Future Green designed the plantings around areas carved out for decking, a shower, stepping stones, and an HVAC system. The green roof section, Seiter says, cost approximately $25/square foot, including drainage materials, substrate materials, soil, and plants.

More photos and a plant list after the jump.

Photos: Future Green Studio

 

The installation photo, above, gives an idea of the enormous number of individual plants used, including many sedums at a density of 4 plugs per square foot. 

 

The garden flowers most heavily in spring.

 

Petrorhagia’s tiny flowers, along with fescue grass and chives in flower. 

 

By fall, grasses have taken over.

 

PARTIAL PLANT LIST (all perennial)

Tunic flower

Fame flower

Aster

Petrorhagia saxafraga

Chinese dunce cap (Orostachys iwarenge)

Lavender

Fescue, Elijah Blue and Superba

Dianthus

Armerea Sea Pink

Sempervivens (Hens & Chicks)

Miscanthus

Echinacea

Sedum varieties

 

To catch up on any installments of The Outsider you might have missed, go right here

 

 

5 Comment

  • This is beautiful! It reminds me of fire island and dunes and boardwalks and all things of simmer.

  • Love the way the garden is designed to progress over the course of a season as the grasses grow. Fescue is my particular favorite, very regal. But I can understand how the zeroscaping is not to everyone’s taste

  • this sort of thing, growing landscapes on rooftops and leftover spaces will probably be seen by future historians as one of the key defining developments of the 20 0′s and10′s. The highline will be seen as the first herald of this type of new urban landscape. I think it is a very exciting and original trend.

  • this sort of thing, growing landscapes on rooftops and leftover spaces will probably be seen by future historians as one of the key defining developments of the 20 0′s and10′s. The highline will be seen as the first herald of this type of new urban landscape. I think it is a very exciting and original trend.

  • Discovered chive blossoms at a farmers market this spring…edible and very tasty in salads – who knew? Would love to do something like this in the future, only with more edible plants included (which, I know, would need more water.)