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Green Roof Tour at the Pittsburgh Zoo


Schizachryium scoparium
Carex pennsylvanica
Carex pennsylvanicaSchizachryium scoparium

On October 16, 2013, Jim Pashek joined old friends on a “Rooftop Rendezvous at the Zoo” sponsored by Green Building Alliance.  Jim was involved with the project management of the “New Zoo” beginning in the early 1980’s and had the pleasure to work over the years with our tour guides that night, Frank Pizzi and Marjorie Marks.

What a specacular demonstrtion rooftop garden. About half of the planted roof area is an “extensive” roof garden with 3-4 inches of special soil mix. The other half was this lush “intensive” rooftop garden of plants placed in a special soil mix ranging from 3-36 inches.  You can tell from the photos that they have been successful to identify species that can thrive in a very hot micro climate and in very shallow soils.The garden got me thinking

that the rooftop garden at Pashek Associates is ready for an overhaul.  This “extensive” garden is planted in trays on 4 inches of special soil mix. We decided to try four varieties of sedums to see which would survive in very difficult site conditions. They all survived and have never been watered since after the first growing season.Some plants that we may plant include Carex pennsylvanica (the small grass clump like plants), which is one of the few sedges that tolerates very dry conditions.  I find it interesting that I would normally use Carex p. in part to full shade but at the Zoo, it is doing great in full sun.  I also think we will try in our rooftop garden Schizachryium scoparium, a plant that is home on the prairie and thrives in hot, dry, well drained conditions (the typical rooftop garden).

Zoo Rooftop Garden - Extensive Plantings
Zoo Rooftop Garden – Extensive Plantings

Frank, thank you for a very informative presentation and tour of the Zoo’s rooftop garden gem. Thanks also to the GBA for arranging the tour.  We look forward to another rooftop garden tour sponsored by GBA in November at the Convention Center, a green roof designed by Pashek Associates and installed by Eilser Nurseries. Maybe next summer we will have more pictures of our newly renovated rooftop garden at Pashek Associates.  Please stop in and ask for a tour of our garden here on the Northside.

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