Irrigation of Intensive Green Roof Systems

Posted by david.luukas

The total absence of or the provision of inadequate irrigation systems is one of the commonest reasons for planting failures on green roofs, or within planters. Here we take a quick look at some of the pressures and solutions for providing much-needed irrigation to our green spaces, but with an emphasis on green roofs.

Well irrigated intensive green roof

With increasing urbanisation and higher density living; planners, landscape architects and architects are trying to provide more affordable, high-quality, desirable living spaces that each have a sense of unique identity, these locations very often incorporate green spaces or green elements within their designs. This is all well and good, however, without providing the necessary elements for the plants to thrive, i.e. light, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrient and a means to anchor their roots, no matter how well-meaning the intentions are the long-term performance of the trees, shrubs or vegetation is undoubtedly compromised.

So why do we see so many planters incorporating trees and hedging that could quickly exceed these basic requirements for growth – least of all water?

There are numerous permanent irrigation solutions available on the market, supplied either as part of the planter solution or as optional extras – these can either be automated or manually operated. Why go to all the expense of providing a planter and planting and possibly missing out on years of enjoyment for a small increase in the installation cost?

Permanent Irrigation Components

Typically, but not necessarily exclusively, a permanent irrigation system includes the following components

1. Mains water and power
2. Tank, pump and housing
3. Control box or programmer
4. Water feed pipes, solenoids and associated signal cabling
5. A means of applying the water i.e. drippers or pop-up sprinklers
6. Finally, training!

There’s little point in offering an automatic irrigation system unless the operator understands how to program and operate the controls. Training for the FM provider or client is very important unless the irrigation system is operated remotely by a third party via the web.

This all might sound a bit complicated and another problem to think about but you might be surprised at how compact and simple some of the systems are. Blackdown would be happy to offer any advice and discuss your requirements with you.

Built-in Irrigation Reservoirs

Roof tree planterAlternatively, if your pockets don’t stretch to an automated system, then there are many other non-automated solutions that could make a big difference to the performance, health and longevity of your planting – provided that there is a maintenance provider to actually manage them, regularly.

By specifying the correct green roof system or planter to suit the final planting density and, very importantly the carefully considered plant, applying sound annual horticultural practices; such as mulching, feeding, a structured maintenance programme and installing the plant at a size that enables it to slowly acclimatise itself to its new environment can mean less reliance on expensive permanent irrigation systems.



Should you wish to discuss your project requirements with Blackdown please contact us on 01460 234582


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Eco Roofs,
Green Roofs,
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