A green Queen City?



Now here’s a green roof I can admire. On Friday afternoon, I visited the studio of a Buffalo-area landscape architect Joy Kuebler, who had an open house that day where she was demonstrating several projects she’d completed at her own home/studio.


The roof is on a building behind her house. She uses it as her office, and it was designed by her architect husband; as you can see, it has a traditional look, and it’s not a building I’d associate with a green roof (not that I know that much about them). I do know I like this one, with its grasses, Russian sage, and shorter groundcovers. It also may be the first sloped and residential green roof in the area.


Kuebler also had some newly installed permeable pavers. These had been under daily rain all summer (as Michele and I have noted, it’s been a very wet summer) and they’ve performed beautifully, with no puddles and less water going into the storm sewers. Good for you and good-looking; like the combo. Joy also has rain barrels installed for any runoff.


Here is Joy with other members of the executive committee of the upstate NY chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Guess which one she is.

In other green news here, the environmental group Riverkeeper is joining with co-op gardening center Urban Roots to sell rain barrels to as many people as possible. Besides the water conservation and gardening use, the run-off problem is huge here, with our aging sewer systems. Like other groups in the region, Riverkeeper is dedicated to improving the health of our many surrounding bodies of water. I don’t have a green roof, permeable pavers (which I could really use to help alleviate a couple lakes and rivers on my property), or a rain barrel. But at least I know where I can get them!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. It’s the first significantly sloped greenroof that I have seen. The great looking building is a bonus. I like modern houses with their slightly pitched roofs, but most of us live with gabled or hipped roofs and it’s good to see that they can be greened.

  2. Not sure about a green roof in the cold climes but I am advocate for permeable pavement. These belong in parking lots as well.

    Also I am against zoning boards that require zillions of parking spaces for shopping centers that will never be full except for opening day. Giant heat sinks is what they are. Also there is never enough green space in parking lots. In my mind planting islands in parking lots should be as wide as a whole parking row itself.

    The (not a tree hugger but still likes trees) TROLL

  3. I like the idea of green roofs but the maintenance side confuses me. Aren’t those perennials going to need pruning at some point? Who’s gonna get up on the roof to do that? Sure wouldn’t be me or my husband if this was my roof.

  4. I have seen sloped garage roofs but with all low growing plants and I have seen tall grasses on flat roofs be sucessful for many years now.As for cutting back it is not really necessary gardeners do it for looks. Dried grass and most prairie plants will grow right through the old stalks which will then slowly decompose.
    I do wonder if the snow weight sliding off after heavy storms would damage plants or even build up enough to damage the roof itself?
    Questioned that will be answered soon enough by the current crop of brave builders…gloria

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