Sunday, June 27, 2010


It's in heat waves like this that I wonder why I'm living in NYC and not on the sandy soils of somewhere far far away, or next to a lake surrounded by old pine trees. Of course, I'm not going to move, because my whole raison d'etre is to create the pine forest within the city. So, if we're bringing nature back into the city through planting native species in backyards, rail road lines, and rooftops, can't we also create a natural lake or something in our backyards? There are few outdoor pools in the city, and probably none that offer the serenity and natural settings that I crave. One outdoor pool is right next to the 3500 SF green roof we just installed on Pitt Street in the Lower East Side, the historic Hamilton Fish Park

is only one out of 54 outdoor pools in the city's parks. According to the parks dept. website the pools officially open on June 29th and close on Labor Day. Other more luxurious / unusual options got me excited. Check out some of what I found on the web:

Some of these pools are experiments with dumpsters in a Brooklyn lot and others are high-end sustainable pools using plants to filter out bacteria as opposed to chlorine. I don't know how much any of these pools would cost or how feasible they are for the average New Yorker with outdoor space, but if I had an inch of property to my name I would be investigating the options.

Other ways to stay cool: some ways to stay cool indoors is to keep the curtains drawn and the windows closed during the day and then open all the windows at night letting in the cooler temp. night air in. Our eco minded office doesn't have AC but we do have over ten fans going at once. Ceiling fans are a must. Also good, if possible, is to grow an enormous tree next to your building to create shade.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Hello friends!!! What a great response to our call for volunteers!!! Because of you, we managed to plant approximately 7,000 sedum plugs in 3 days! YOU ROCK! A big thank you to all those who came out because we couldn't have done it without you.

We won't be needing anymore volunteers for this week, but if you'd like to stay updated on our next volunteer effort, please email and I'll keep you in the loop.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

VOLUNTEERS!!! and more

Hello, here's an opportunity:
over the years many people have approached me wanting to gain first hand experience installing a green roof. Now is your chance!! Come help! We're installing a 3,500 SF green roof in the lower east side this week (June 21-25). It's on top of a new construction destined to be mixed income housing-great views of the city and excellent tanning potential. We have over 100 trays of sedum and other species meaning over 7200 individual sedum plugs. So want to earn that beer at the end of the day? We can help :)
Call Marni 917-743-7735 or Eric 646-322-3330 to volunteer. Thanks!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Union Square Green(roof)market

Native plants and green roofs have taken over NYC! Well, we hope so at least. Two Fridays ago Alive Structures had an education stand at the Union Square Greenmarket educating New Yorkers and visitors to New York about the benefits of using native plants in gardening and reasons why considering green roofs for their homes and businesses is a great solution for our city.

Marni in front of the Alive Structures van

We loved talking to everyone that stopped by the stand. Some were just curious and others had their own personal native plant gardening and green roof knowledge to share.

Don't worry if you missed us that day, we will be heading to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket this Saturday, June 12. We will have some our region's best native plants being showcased along with a sample of a green roof! Native plants sometimes have a reputation for looking weedy, but stop by and you'll see that New York native plants are gorgeous, and we think quite stunning. Feel free to look through our books or photographs of gardens that we have on hand. See you there!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Rain

I know it isn't that pretty and it causes our sewers to overflow, but I'm so happy it's raining!
Anyone who installed a garden in the last month, knows how vulnerable those plants are --
uprooted and traumatized, shy, uncomfortable, and many other feelings we've all had at one time or another. And here comes this late May / early June week and a half long heat wave without rain. Established perennials, shrubs, and trees with at least 2' of soil underneath them may be able to handle this weather but the newbies are dropping like flies. Preventable? Yes.

An irrigation system or a maintenance plan with a landscape company are helpful, but sometimes keeping plants alive really depends on the client. Yes, the clients can save the day- my heroes, clients who water after noticing it hasn't rained for the 10th day in a row. And water deeply, because wetting the surface of the soil or the leaves of a tree is not watering.

On top of the recent heat, many of the gardens we've just installed are in very windy and sunny conditions on roofs and terraces. This is a stressful situation for most plants even in cool and wet weather, but this is also a very common urban garden setting. So, some things that can help in a situation like this:

1. Frequent and deep watering.
2. Loosely wrapping shade cloths around newly planted shrubs.
3. Keeping plants in a sheltered area - if there is one- until they've adapted more.
4. Choose appropriate plants for the tough conditions.No matter how drought tolerant the plant, when it's first planted, it needs special care. But once it's established it will fare much better than it's less drought tolerant plant friends. But, we have to remember this is an artificial environment-we're on a NYC terrace here, so all the plants are in containers, not soil that's 3' or more feet deep. This means their resources are limited. So no matter how tough plants are, keep an eye on them. But, here are some great tough plants to use:

Prunus maritima
Myrica pensylvanica
Pinus strobus 'nana'
Rhus aromatica
Boltonia asteroides
Coreopsis verticillata
Asclepias tuberosa

Here are images that show coastal inspiration.