by   Cynthia Tanyan    Mozaic Landscapes , Sunol, CA APLD Bay Area District Member

by Cynthia Tanyan
Mozaic Landscapes, Sunol, CA
APLD Bay Area District Member

The Toughest of the Tough: Plants for Greenroofs

For 20 years, Cynthia Tanyan has designed over 500 varied residential gardens throughout the SF Bay Area and beyond, including a master plan for a Stanford Lands horsepark, a rural cemetery in Massachusetts, a Native American sculpture garden, and an extensive modern greenroof.

Cynthia's designs have been featured in Sunset (she is a recipient of Sunset's "Best in the West" and "Dream Gardens" Award) and People magazine. Her designs can be seen in The American Meadow Garden, by J. Greenlee (c.2009), and Reimagining the California Lawn, by C. Bornstein.

Greenroofs are tough environments for plants as they are usually exposed to all-day sun, wind, drought conditions and have only a shallow root zone. This is similar to native conditions for many rock garden and succulent plants.  Sedums of all kinds are the mainstay for greenroofs. Choose plants that are tough, stay fairly low to the ground, and don’t require much deadheading or other maintenance. 

 

Photo courtesy of  Saxon Holt . 

Photo courtesy of Saxon Holt

Perennials/Shrubs/Ground covers:

Achillea millefolium, COMMON YARROW

Dymondia margaretae, SILVER CARPET

Juniperus (low growing varieties) time for a comeback?

Nepeta ssp., CATMINTS

Phacelia grandiflora, LARGE-FLOWERED PHACELIA

Rosmarinus officinalis cvs., GROUNDCOVER ROSEMARY

Thymus serphyllum cvs., CREEPING THYME

Grasses:

Bouteloua gracilis, BLUE GRAMA GRASS

Calamagrostis foliosa, MENDOCINO REED GRASS

Carex pansa, DUNE SEDGE

Festuca amethystina, TUFTED FESCUE

Succulents:

Agave pumila, MINIATURE AGAVE

Agave victoriae-reginae, QUEEN VICTORIA AGAVE

Aloe aristata, LACE ALOE

Crassula capitella, ‘Campfire’, CAMPFIRE CRASSULA

Dudleya pulverulenta, CHALK DUDLEYA

Euphorbia tirucalli ’Sticks on Fire’, RED PENCIL TREE

Mangave, ‘Bloodspot’, BLOODSPOT MANGAVE

“Sedum carpet” (available at Succulent Gardens)

Sedum album, STONECROP

Sedum reflexum, ‘Blue Spruce’, BLUE SPRUCE STONECROP

Sedum rupestre ,‘Angelina’, GOLDEN SEDUM

Sedum spurium cvs., DRAGON'S BLOOD

Sempervivum spp., HENS AND CHICKS

Senecio serpens, BLUE CHALKSTICKS

Achillea millefolium  Photo courtesy of  Emerisa Gardens .

Achillea millefolium
Photo courtesy of Emerisa Gardens.

 
Agave pumila , MINIATURE AGAVE Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Agave pumila, MINIATURE AGAVE
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

 
Agave victoriae-reginae , QUEEN VICTORIA AGAVE Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Agave victoriae-reginae, QUEEN VICTORIA AGAVE
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

Calamagrostis foliosa , MENDOCINO REED GRASS Photo courtesy of  Emerisa Gardens .

Calamagrostis foliosa, MENDOCINO REED GRASS
Photo courtesy of Emerisa Gardens.

Carex pansa , DUNE SEDGE Photo courtesy of  Emerisa Gardens .

Carex pansa, DUNE SEDGE
Photo courtesy of Emerisa Gardens.

Crassula capitella , ‘Campfire’, CAMPFIRE CRASSULA Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Crassula capitella, ‘Campfire’, CAMPFIRE CRASSULA
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

Dudleya pulverulenta , CHALK DUDLEYA Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Dudleya pulverulenta, CHALK DUDLEYA
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

Dymondia margaretae , SILVER CARPET Photo courtesy of  Bamboo Pipeline .

Dymondia margaretae, SILVER CARPET
Photo courtesy of Bamboo Pipeline.

Euphorbia tirucalli  ’Sticks on Fire’, RED PENCIL TREE Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Euphorbia tirucalli ’Sticks on Fire’, RED PENCIL TREE
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

Festuca amethystina , TUFTED FESCUE Photo courtesy of  Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery .

Festuca amethystina, TUFTED FESCUE
Photo courtesy of Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery.

Juniperus  (low growing varieties) time for a comeback? Photo courtesy of  Village Nurseries .

Juniperus (low growing varieties) time for a comeback?
Photo courtesy of Village Nurseries.

Mangave , ‘Bloodspot’, BLOODSPOT MANGAVE Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Mangave, ‘Bloodspot’, BLOODSPOT MANGAVE
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.

Nepeta  ssp., CATMINTS Photo courtesy of  Emerisa Gardens .

Nepeta ssp., CATMINTS
Photo courtesy of Emerisa Gardens.

Sedum rupestre  ,‘Angelina’, GOLDEN SEDUM Photo courtesy of  Bamboo Pipeline .  

Sedum rupestre ,‘Angelina’, GOLDEN SEDUM
Photo courtesy of Bamboo Pipeline.
 

Sedum spurium  cvs., DRAGON'S BLOOD Photo courtesy of  Bamboo Pipeline .

Sedum spurium cvs., DRAGON'S BLOOD
Photo courtesy of Bamboo Pipeline.

Sempervivum  spp., HENS AND CHICKS Photo courtesy of  Village Nurseries . 

Sempervivum spp., HENS AND CHICKS
Photo courtesy of Village Nurseries

Senecio serpens , BLUE CHALKSTICKS Photo courtesy of  San Marcos Growers .

Senecio serpens, BLUE CHALKSTICKS
Photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers.