Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Garden Ideas from a Smart Home

We went to Chicago recently and spent an afternoon at the Museum of Science and Industry.  One of the exhibits we saw was called Smart Home.

This is a house built on the grounds of the museum, along with gardens, to highlight five eco-principles identified by the house's architect, Michelle Kaufmann:

  1. Smart design
  2. Material Efficiency
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Water Efficiency
  5. Healthy Environment
You can read more about these principles and see more images of the house here.  Believe me, it was fantastic.  It made me want to build one!

But, of course, I was very interested in the gardening techniques they used.  Here's an excerpt from the exhibit's Resource Guide along with some of the photos I took:

From the ground up to the roof, Smart Home’s landscape design demonstrates an eco-friendly aes- thetic with systems that sustain and replenish the environment: green roofs, ipê decking, rain barrels, bioswales, porous paving and rain gardens. Prairie, dune and oak savannah plantings recall our region’s past and working gardens present food production. the landscape is carefully designed and managed to conserve and protect natural resources.
  • Native plants have extensive root systems, are well- adapted to our climate, and attract beneficial insects.
  • Green roofs reduce energy costs; decrease the urban heat island effect by cooling air temperature and slow stormwater run-off.

    Green roof, with skylights

  • Permeable pavements, rain gardens and bioswales ease water run-off into surrounding streams and lakes and enable slow, healthy seepage into the soil.

    Permeable pavement
  • Rain barrels harvest rainwater to irrigate plants, so we use less drinking-quality water.
  • Fresh vegetables and herbs are available during three seasons. Plants are designed in ground patterns.
  • Organic mulch minimizes weed invasion, converts moisture, reduces soil temperature fluctuations, protects root systems and keeps vegetables clean.
  • Yard and garden waste is composted and added to the garden as a rich soil conditioner.
  • Space is maximized via trellises, vertical walls and a planted trough table, staking tomatoes, container gardening, and mixing fast-maturing crops with slower growers.
Tower Garden 
Staked tomatoes

More containers

Long shot of containers
  • Raised beds demonstrate options for bringing in healthy soil when urban land is contaminated. they also improve drainage, maximize space by eliminating walkways between rows, avoid compaction and aid gardeners with physical disabilities.
  • Two hives house more than 60,000 bees at the height of the summer. bees help pollinate the plants and provide honey, a natural sweetener. 
I didn't take pictures of the raised bed garden or the hives (darn it!) but take a look at this sedum wall and sedum boxes!

Sedum wall

Sedum box
The sedum boxes were fairly tall and flanked a doorway, which I thought was a very cool idea.

Sedum boxes flanking a doorway

Here's a long shot of the sedum wall so you can see it in context.

Long shot of sedum wall
I encourage you to check the links above for better pictures :) and more information and ideas.

One other thing, technology-wise, that was in the house that I really, really want:  they had an electronic message board that (they said) you could post on from your smartphone!  It was custom-made, but I have looked and looked on the internet for something like it and have not been successful.  Wouldn't that be a great idea for some of you tech geniuses out there?  Let me know!!!

1 comment:

  1. This is cool, planting and eventually harvesting on top of the roof with skylights. Hope that someday everyone of us must value the importance of nature. Thanks for this info.


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