Landscapes and Gardens of Smart Home Plans

The Museum of Science and Industry collaborated with Jacobs/Ryan Associates Landscape Architects, the University of Illinois Extension and Openlands to develop a native and sustainable site landscape for the Smart Home. (read previous post and see the pics about smart home here)

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From the ground up to the roof, the Smart Home landscape design demonstrates an eco-friendly aesthetic with systems that sustain and replenish the environment: green roofs, ipê wood decking, rain barrels, cisterns, bioswales, porous paving and rain gardens. Prairie, dune and oak savanna plantings recall our region’s past and working gardens present food production, indoor climate control and water recycling in action. Native flowers in the landscape include butterfly milkweed, New England aster, stiff goldenrod and prairie dropseed.

The landscape is carefully designed and managed to conserve and protect natural resources:

  • Native plants have extensive root systems and are well-adapted to Chicago’s climate. Moreover, they add year round beauty and attract beneficial insects.

  • Green roofs reduce energy costs; decrease the urban heat island effect by cooling air temperature; and slow stormwater run-off. The Smart Home green roof is planted with succulent, drought tolerant plants.

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

  • A cistern and rain barrels harvest rainwater to irrigate plants, so less drinking-quality water is used.

  • Fresh, home-grown vegetables and herbs are available three seasons of the year. This includes red and green leaf lettuce, Yukon Gold potatoes, onions, bok choy, Cherry Bell radishes and several varieties of peas. Vegetables produced in the garden will be donated to ABJ Community Services in the neighboring Hyde Park neighborhood.

  • Yard and garden waste is composted and added to the garden as a rich soil conditioner.

  • Organic mulch minimizes weed invasion, converts moisture, reduces soil temperature fluctuations, protects root systems and keeps the vegetables clean.

  • Space is maximized via trellises, caging and staking tomatoes, container gardening, and mixing fast-maturing crops with slower growers. The result: greater yield in a smaller space.

  • Many of the vegetables and flora will be planted in closed self-watering garden containers, called EarthBoxes, courtesy of The Growing Connection-a grassroots organization that introduces low-cost, water-efficient and sustainable food-growing innovations around the world. These EarthBoxes are optimal for being self-sustaining and low maintenance in urban environments.

  • Chemical applications are avoided by starting with healthy seed and transplants, providing optimal growing conditions, scouting for unwanted pests, and removing dead and diseased plants.

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