If it were not for plants, we would not be able to exist. This week the Sundance Channel’s eco series Big Ideas explores some innovative ways we can grow and give more back to the planet.

The Bronx in New York seems an unlikely place to start. The words ‘concrete jungle’ comes to mind. Yet Jorg Breuning the founder of Green Roof Service thinks differently. A green roof is a roof that has a thin layer of soil on it that supports an ecosystem. The advantages are many, you effectively give back to the Earth the area taken up by the building, you capture the runoff in a much better way than letting the precious rain go into the sewer system. A green roof replaces the area of land taken by the building.

Interestingly Germany is the leader in the green roof drive, boasting a 15% penetration rate.

In segment two we get to look at ways we can better use the water available, while still keeping great looking yards. Dr. David Suzuki explains “Grass is the dumbest plant possible, it is weak, you have to fertilize and water it”, it is so much better to use local plants, there are plants that understand the local weather and soils. Maybe the finest example of dumbness I have seen is Phoenix, Arizona, the summer temperature can exceed 117 of burning heat, yet people still insist on planting grass. Grass that must be watered to stay alive.

Vynnie McDaniels is a Xeriscape Garden Consultant in Phoenix. By using xeriscaping techniques you can lessen you water needs. Oh and that does not mean that you have a yard with gravel and a few cacti. There are many great looking and interesting plants that can take the place of the lawn. I am a big fan of this idea, no grass equals no tedious mowing!

This weeks final segment features Andy Lipkis, founder of ‘Tree People’. Cities are wonderful, they offer endless shopping, attractions and other amenities. But there comes a point where you want a few moments of respite, and those are often found in the local park. Alas, the park is a rarity in many cities, with land costs soaring, many developers just view green space as wasted space.

What could be better than an instant park? Roll up to a parking lot, unroll the grass and everything else you need, and voila, you have a park! Now I am not sure that this is the best idea I have ever come across, but it is certainly innovative. And maybe as a result they will create a greater awareness of the need for green space.

You can catch Big Ideas For A Small Planet – Grow on Tuesday May/20 at 8pm on the Sundance channel. If you cannot get the Sundance channel, moan at you local cable company, and then check out the web site.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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