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Influence of vegetation composition on runoff in two simulated green roof experiments

Dunnett, Nigel, Nagase, Ayako, Booth, Rosemary, Grime, Philip
Urban ecosystems 2008 v.11 no.4 pp. 385-398
botanical composition, ecosystems, forbs, grasses, green roofs, greenhouse experimentation, growing media, lysimeters, physical properties, rain, rainfall simulation, runoff, trays, urban areas, vegetation types, United Kingdom
Despite the fact that green roofs are based upon living systems, the majority of published research literature contains little specific information on the contribution of plants to the various functions and properties of green roofs. Furthermore, there has been little investigation of the influence of the composition of vegetation on the physical properties of a green roof system. This paper reviews previously published material that throws light on the role of vegetation composition on green roof function, with particular regard to rainwater runoff. Two experiments at the University of Sheffield, UK, are considered in detail: (a) An outdoor lysimeter experiment that investigated the quantity of runoff from trays containing 100 mm of growing medium and combinations of grasses and forbs, together with bare substrate, and (b) a greenhouse experiment using simulated rainfall to estimate the amount of rainfall intercepted by different vegetation types. In both cases the vegetation ranged from simple monocultures of forbs and grasses through to complex mixtures of both. In both cases, the composition of the vegetation was found to significantly affect both the amount of water retained and released from the system.