Benefits of Plants

Why add plants to your living and working environment? The most obvious answer is that they look attractive. However, recent research has shown that the value of plants goes far beyond the purely aesthetic. Plants are good for the building, its occupants and visitors, providing benefit you may not know about. And more benefits are being discovered through research every day.

Plants in the Workplace

Will plants in the office help reduce employee absenteeism?

Studies have proven a direct relationship between clinical health complaints and plant installations. Sick Building Syndrome is a serious and expensive issue, and the degree to which interior plants can positively affect employee’s health is an important issue in today’s workplace.

Can plants reduce stress and increase productivity?

Research performed by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M University, Helen Russell of Surrey University in England as well as those conducted by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University verify that plants significantly lower workplace stress and enhance worker productivity.

In Dr. Lohr’s study, common interior plants were used in a computer laboratory with 27 computer workstations. A computer program to test productivity and induce stress was specifically designed for these experiments. Participants working in an environment with plants present were 12 percent more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment without plants.

Can plants increase creativity?

In an eight-month study, the Texas A&M University research team explored the link between flowers, plants and workplace productivity. Participants performed creative problem solving tasks in a variety of common office environment or conditions. The conditions included a workplace with plants and flowers, a setting with sculptures and an environment with no decorative embellishments.

During the study, both men and women demonstrative more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included plants and flowers. In these surrounding, men who participated in the study generated 15% more ideas. And while makes generated a greater abundance of ideas, females generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when plants and flowers were present.

What is biophilia and how are plants involved?

The concept of Biophilia suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, or more simply, it’s the love of nature and all living things. It has become so prominent, that the biophilic connection of plants earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment) credits for a recent interior plantscape project in New Mexico.

Stephen R. Kellert, an advisor on prominent green building project and professor of social ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has spent much of his career thinking and writing about biophilia. In a recent interview discussing his latest book, Biophilic

Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Building to Life, he discussed a study underway at the eastern headquarters for Bank of America at Bryant Park [in mid-town Manhattan]. “My colleague is currently working on the study along with a furniture manufacturer, Herman Miller to review the degree to which direct exposure to natural elements might impact employees in the office and factory. They were able to find significant productivity gains, less absenteeism, less health problems, a better sense of well-being as reported by the individuals that participated. And ultimately all of this translates to the bottom line.”

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The list of benefits from plants and natural elements in the workplace keeps growing.

The list of benefits from plants and natural elements in the workplace keeps growing.

What is plantscaping?

Different than landscaping, “plantscaping” is a term used when describing a containerized plant program. Our plants are staged in decorative containers – planters and pots – either for interior or exterior applications.

How much does it cost?

It all depends upon what type of plants you choose, how many you have, how big they are, what kind of pots you choose and the environment we are growing them in. For instance, most of our installations cost between $2,000 and $10,000 but can go all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Our guaranteed maintenance service starts at $125 per month.

Do you take care of both homes and businesses?

While our client base is primarily commercial, yes we do many beautiful residences throughout southern California.

When can I get it?

Typically, we schedule our deliveries for two to three weeks out from the time you green-light your project and we receive your deposit. Sometimes the specific pots you have ordered take longer to obtain and would impact the delivery date for longer than two weeks. And if you need plants right away, many times we can get plants into your space in a few days.

Is there a guarantee?

Yes! All interior plants that we supply and take care of include a guarantee. In some cases, we can guarantee outdoor plants, but the factors (weather, vandalism) beyond our control can create a challenge.

How long have you been in business?

We opened our doors in 1977.

Are you licensed and insured?

Yes, our company is incorporated in the State of California, we have a C27 landscape contractors license #928769 and we carry $2,000,000 of general liability coverage in addition to bonding and workers comp insurance.

What is your service area?

From our headquarters in Kearny Mesa (a community of San Diego) we service all of San Diego County from the border to Camp Pendleton. With our partners located in all major cities, we can service the entire United States.

What are your payment terms?

We require a deposit of 50% for all new clients and major installations and we bill in advance for our maintenance services, due in 30 days at the end of the service month.

Do you accept credit cards?

We accept all major credit cards, but you get a 3% discount if paying by check or cash.

What if my service day falls on a holiday?

In most cases, your service day is simply moved over one day. Depending upon the holiday and which day of the week it falls on, we will call and make other arrangements.

Who will be servicing our plants?

We like to have the same person, on the same day of the week care for your plants. Your plants will like that too! Our uniformed, experienced horticultural service technicians have passed a drug test and a background check. We provide in house on-going training in all aspects of plant care and customer service and they are supported to extend their horticultural education from any resource.

Do you use any toxic chemicals?

No, we are restricted by our own values and the state of California to not use any harmful products indoors. We clean our plants with non-toxic soaps and oils and as a result, they are bug free.

Do I have to buy my plants and planters or do you have a leasing program?

Yes, we do have a leasing program. Most of our clients choose a three year term, but we can structure an agreement for any time period beyond our one year minimum.

Do you have artificial plants as well as real ones?

Yes, in some cases “permanent botanical replica plants” are the best solution for what you need. We love to combine both live, preserved and artificial plants to create and illusion that all of your plants are living.

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Living/Edible Walls

SpringHill Suites Living Wall

What are the benefits of living walls?

There are so many benefits associated with living walls. Among many of them, are that living walls conserve energy by insulating the building envelope, reducing the need for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. They create biodiversity conservation opportunities, and absorb and filter storm water, which reduces local water body pollution and helps prevent the overwhelming of municipal storm water infrastructure. Living walls also filter air particulates, improving air quality and help to reduce the urban heat island effect (UHI).

What is the weight of a living wall panel?

Good Earth Plant Company uses two different living wall products to match your needs. Our shallow profile panels weigh approximately give pounds when empty, and the planted panels range from 35-45 pounds (13 to 16 pounds per sq ft) depending on the type of growth medium used. Deep profile panels can weigh up to 60 pounds fully saturated.

Can the living wall kits be painted or stained?

Our shallow profile panels can also be ordered with several different frames, which can be painted or stained to suit your décor. We suggest talking to you local paint dealer to help choose a product that will work best for you.

What plants do people plant in them?

Plant choice is always location and climate dependent so we look at each project individually. We generally use sedums and other rock garden perennials, which have shallow root base for our shallow profile panels outdoors. Extended panels can be planted with a larger variety of perennials or annuals and also some of the shallow root grasses. We try in all cases to choose plants that are more drought tolerant as we are always encouraging water conservation. Native plants are also very helpful to habitat restoration efforts, as most native plants provide food for our local birds and butterflies.

The factors that will affect your choices are your climate zone, irrigation supply, budget, and exposure. Our talented designers can help you choose the plants that are right for you. For indoor installations we use hardy tropical plants with shallow roots.

Can I grow vegetables in my living wall?

We have quite a few customers that are successfully growing lettuce, herbs, beets, radishes and carrots in their walls. Some are using extensions for the plants with deeper root base.

At our on-site Living Laboratory, our eight-panel herb wall has been doing extremely well. We regularly harvest different types of mints, sage, salad greens, and several other types of herbs.

How are the walls watered?

The panels are designed to allow water flow from cell to cell within each panel and then from panel to panel in a complete wall. For direct mount wall installations we suggest the installation of drip irrigation lines between every row or every second row of panels depending on the micro climate of the installation.

How much water do the walls need?

The amount of water required is plant and climate dependent with an average of approximately 2 liters per panel per watering. Each cell has a water retention area so that it holds water when it flows through the panels. Keep an eye on your plants! If they look sad, they probably need water.

What are the maintenance requirements?

With carefully selected plants and proper irrigation, living walls can be virtually self-sustaining. The only thing that may need to be done is the odd trimming of dead leaves or fertilizing, or adding plants as necessary if replacements are needed. It is very similar to house or garden plants in that way.

What kind of light do I need for my living wall?

It is best to locate your wall where it will receive some natural light. Otherwise you can augment with artificial if necessary. The most important thing is to specify plants that will survive where you are planting them. There are some species that survive very well for instance in low light. Others require more light. When in doubt – call us!

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Green Roofs

What are green roofs?

The original Sharp Memorial Hospital green roof, installed by GreenScaped Buildings in 2012.

The original Sharp Memorial Hospital green roof, installed by GreenScaped Buildings in 2012.

Green roofs, also called “vegetated roof covers,” “living roofs,” and “eco-roofs” are thin layers of living plants that are installed on top of conventional roofs. Properly designed, they are stable, living ecosystems that replicate many of the processes found in nature.

What are the major benefits and advantages of green roofs?

The green roof is the one building element that improves with age! Other benefits include:

  • Controlling storm water runoff, erosion and pollution
  • Improving water quality
  • Mitigating urban heat-island effects, cooling and cleaning the air
  • More than doubling the service life of the roof
  • Conserving energy
  • Reducing sound reflection and transmission
  • Creating wildlife habitats
  • Density bonuses
  • Higher rental rates
  • Marketing and PR value
  • Increased property and building values
  • Improving the aesthetic environment in both work and home settings

 Can you earn LEED credits for building a green roof?

Yes! Green roofs can earn LEED credits in the following categories of the USGBC’s green building rating system:

PART 1: Sustainable Sites

  • Reduced Site Disturbance, Protect or Restore Open Space
  • Reduced Site Disturbance, Development Footprint Credit
  • Landscape Design That Reduces Urban Heat Islands

PART 2: Water Efficiency

  • Storm Water Management
  • Water Efficient Landscaping
  • Water Use Reduction
  • Innovative Wastewater Technologies

PART 3: Energy and Atmosphere

  • Optimize Energy Performance
  • Renewable Energy
  • CFC and Ozone Depleting Substance Reduction

PART 4: Materials and Resources

  • Storage and Collection of Recyclables
  • Recycled Content Materials

PART 5: Indoor Environmental Quality

PART 6: Innovation in Design

 Are there proven, scientific standards for green roof design?

This Del Mar residence is getting a new green roof, our first one in 2017.

This residential green roof is planted with ornamental grasses ideal for the environment.

Presently, the only widely-accepted, established standards for green roof construction are those developed in Germany by the Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau. e.V. (FLL). These standards and guidelines are comprehensive, and include industry standard tests for the weight, moisture, nutrient content, and grain-size distribution of growing media. FLL also certifies laboratories to conduct critical tests, such as the root penetration resistance of waterproofing membranes.

Within the past few years, the American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM) convened a Green Roof Task Force to create green roof standards. Charlie Miller, P.E., President and founder of Roofscapes, Inc., (for whom we are licensed installers) has been a very active member of this Task Force from the beginning and has been instrumental in drafting these standards.

The methods described in the new ASTM standards establish a common basis for comparing fundamental green roof properties, such as maximum weight and moisture retention potential.  These methods are designed to measure critical material properties for green roof materials under conditions similar to those encountered in the field.

How much does a green roof weigh?

Green roofs vary greatly in weight, depending on the product you choose, their depth and the material components. The important measurement is ‘wet’ weight — fully-saturated fabrics and plants. For example, saturated weight of a 2-inch deep system is about 13 pounds per square foot, including a mature plant cover. Mid-range, 5-inch systems weigh approximately 34 pounds per square foot and are compatible with wood or steel decks.

How does a green roof affect the conventional roof below it?

Based on German experience, a green roof can be expected to double or triple the life of the underlying conventional roof by protecting from human activity and wind-blown debris; shielding from UV radiation; and buffering temperature extremes, thereby minimizing damage from daily expansion and contraction.

What kind of waterproofing do I need?

Many types of waterproofing are compatible with green roofs. World-wide, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polymer modified bituminous membranes are the most common. Many of these installations have now been in place for over 30 years and continue to perform as designed. PVC, EPDM and thermal polyolefin (TPO) are, in most cases, inherently root-resistant; other common waterproofing materials require a root barrier between the waterproofing materials and the vegetated cover.

Are leaks under a conventional green roof a problem?

Surprisingly, leaks in the waterproofing layer are less likely when it is protected from the elements by a green roof. If a leak does occur, it can readily be located through new electronic technology, such as electric field vector mapping (EFVM), which can rapidly and accurately pinpoint even minute holes. While GreenScaped Buildings implements flood testing prior to the installation of plants and growing media, the addition of an EFVM system is convenient, need not be installed in advance, and can even be used on steeply-sloped surfaces. Repairs to the waterproofing are quick, and disturbance of the green roof is minimal.

Why is drainage important?

Proper drainage ensures that the growing medium will be maintained in an aerated condition suited to healthy plant growth. Basal drainage must also be designed with large rainfall events in mind. The goal is for all rainfall to percolate to the base of the system. The portion that is not absorbed should move ‘underground’ toward roof drains or scuppers, and then into your rainwater harvesting system (if installed).

Is there a danger of dry plants catching and spreading fire?

Not if the green roof is designed correctly. In Germany, green roofs actually have a better fire rating than conventional roofs because the mineral media layers cannot burn. The extensive use of Sedums (a type of succulent) and gravel borders and breaks also protect against fire. In our arid, fire-prone region, we engineer the system with fire-retardant features, paying special attention to mineral content, gravel layers, and plant selection.

What kind of maintenance is required?

After the general two years it takes for plants to become established, most extensive green roofs only need weeding and occasional infill transplanting twice a year. Good Earth Plant Company can take care of these needs through our maintenance program. We also check the irrigation system and drains.

Maintenance visits should be timed to intercept any weeds before they go to seed. This level of maintenance is sufficient to maintain the health of the plants and protect the underlying roofing materials. Some owners enjoy greater involvement and choose to ‘garden’ in their green roof more frequently. Intensive green roofs will require the same care and maintenance as a similar garden situated on the ground.

How much does a green roof cost?

Cost per square foot depends on many factors: the size and slope of the roof, depth and complexity of the system, height and accessibility from the ground, cost of labor, and need for specialized elements, such as drains, railings, pavers, slope stabilization measures, etc. Prices range from $10/square foot to $25/square foot.

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Rainwater Harvesting

What is rainwater harvesting?

El Nino is coming. Are you ready for it? Photo: County of San Diego

Photo: County of San Diego

Rainwater Harvesting refers to the collection and storage of rain. Rainwater harvesting is a way of saving the rainwater which would normally flow off a roof and down the drain, and using it as piped water to flush toilets and for the garden watering, yard washdown, vehicle and car washing, instead of treated drinking (potable) water.

How does rainwater harvesting work?

Collection is usually from rooftops, and storage in catchment tanks.

A storage tank is fitted to your stormwater drain from your roof, and falling rain enters the tank through a filter which removes leaves and other matter. The storage tank is usually buried under car or vehicle parks, a garden or under the entrance access or drive, and contains a pump which pumps the rainwater to the building where it is piped to the toilets, and to the outside taps

Rainwater harvesting systems can range from a simple barrel at the bottom of a downspout to multiple tanks with pumps and controls. Before the creation of public water utilities, rainwater harvesting provided water for many American homes. It is still popular in places with limited water resources such as island communities like Hawaii. In our arid climate, recent drought conditions remind us how quickly we can run short of water.

What can you use the water for?

Filtered, untreated stored rainwater should only be used for non-potable (not for drinking or bathing) purposes: toilet flushing, irrigating lawns and gardens, washing vehicles, or yard washdowns.

Using purified potable water for purposes like flushing toilets or irrigating landscape is a waste of a valuable resource, and San Diego residents are asking more questions about the role of rainwater harvesting in their daily water needs.

Are there environmental benefits from using rainwater?

Yes! Rainwater harvesting is effective in reducing storm water runoff pollution. When rain falls, it is clean, but it immediately picks up pollutants from rooftops and pavement. This pollution is carried into storm drains and then into streams. Collecting storm water from rooftops and directing it to storage tanks so it can later be used for irrigation or flushing decreases the volume and rate of runoff.

How much water can I save?

Depending on your normal usage, it can save 30 to 50% of the treated drinking water from the mains in houses and up to and up to 80% of the treated drinking water in a business or commercial building.

The City of Portland, Oregon has created a formula to estimate the amount of water you can add to your annual water supply from rainwater harvesting:

Rainwater Harvesting Calculation

For example, a 500 sq. ft roof that gets 36 in/yr. will produce 1,500 Cubic Feet or 11,145 Gallons of water per year.

PLEASE NOTE: This calculation is for horizontal areas and does not take into consideration system losses such as evaporation or leakage.

Will using rainwater save me money on my water bills?

Depending on your normal usage, it can save 30 to 50% for the domestic user and 80% for the commercial user of the treated drinking water from the mains. Having metered water is the best way of appreciating the difference.

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