Landscape and Horticultural Fertigation Using Roof-Derived Storm Water: The Potential Multiple Benefits of Blue Green Roof Installations

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A contribution to the sustainable management of storm water is the use of sustainable drainage (SuDS)-derived water as an unconventional source for irrigation. If storm-water runoff contains dissolved nutrients in excess of those found in conventional irrigation, reusing this water can contribute to the nutrient demands of horticulture or landscaping, which is known as “fertigation”. Green roofs are SuDS devices, and those with below-substrate water storage, blue green roofs, can be additional water sources. The nutrients released from a roof-substrate-growing medium could contribute to the growth of crop and landscape plants, but materials from blue green roofs must not release residues harmful to fertigated plants or receiving soils. This plant growth experiment examined the effects of water from a blue green roof on plant growth and health and the effects on soil and roof-harvested water when functioning as a nutrient-rich irrigation source. Tomatoes and ryegrass were used as examples of horticultural and landscaping plants, respectively. Blue green roof water was compared with potable water irrigation. The blue-green-roof-derived water provided a distinct growth advantage for tomatoes and lower sodium in fruits than tap water, at 285 mg/kg and 636 mg/kg, respectively. For ryegrass, the differences were minimal, but there was no disadvantage to using roof water for fertigation. Following three years of a blue green roof’s operational life, export of inorganic nutrients from the roof, local storage, and then application to plants were effective in contributing additional fertiliser.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12735
Number of pages15
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


  • blue green roof
  • storm-water runoff
  • plant irrigation
  • nutrients and fertigation


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