Parking Garden

Green Parking

Queens Botanical Garden’s Parking Garden demonstrates an alternative way of treating stormwater runoff to keep our waterways cleaner. Located in what was originally a wetland, the Parking Garden is reminiscent of an outstretched hand, alternating finger-like parking surfaces made of semi-permeable pavers with shallow channels that absorb excess water. Sloping away from city streets, remaining runoff is diverted into a series of planted depressions, called bioswales, that absorb the vast majority of the water. The rest is directed into a native wet meadow that mimics local ecosystems that existed in Flushing prior to urbanization.

Semi-permeable pavers rest on three tiers of bluestone gravel of increasing size, allowing water to penetrate deeply into the soil. The structure also facilitates the growth of beneficial oil-eating bacteria that break down leaking car fluids and remove them from the water system.

Additional overflow parking areas are stabilized with gravel-grass. These flat surfaces are made of large bluestone gravel and seeded with native grasses. The combination absorbs stormwater quickly—and is an attractive greenspace when not in use.

The Parking Garden includes 6 ADA-compliant parking spaces, 92 standard spaces and 19 overflow spaces, for 117 total spaces. These landscapes all contribute to QBG’s efforts to foster environmental stewardship and enhance the visitor experience.

In combination with our Visitor & Administration Building, LEED® Platinum certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and Sustainable Pathways project, QBG is capable of diverting 95% of stormwater that falls on our 39 acres away from the city’s sewer system.

CLICK HERE to download our Green Parking brochure.

 

Keeping Our Water Clean

Queens Botanical Garden’s Parking Garden demonstrates an alternate way of treating stormwater runoff to keep our waterways cleaner. Located in what were originally wetlands, the Parking Garden is reminiscent of an outstretched hand, alternating finger-like parking surfaces made of permeable pavers with mini-bioswales that absorb excess water. Sloping away from city streets, remaining runoff is diverted into a series of planted depressions, called bioswales, that absorb the vast majority of the water. The rest is directed into a native wet meadow that mimics local ecosystems that existed in Flushing prior to urbanization.

Permeable pavers rest on three tiers of bluestone gravel of increasing size, allowing water to penetrate deeply into the soil. The structure also facilitates the growth of beneficial oil-eating bacteria that break down leaking car fluids and remove them from the environment.

Additional low intensity parking areas are stabilized with gravel-grass. These flat surfaces are made of large bluestone gravel and seeded with native grasses. The combination absorbs stormwater quickly, and is attractive and green when not in use.

In combination with our Visitor & Administration Building, LEED® Platinum certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and Sustainable Pathways project, QBG will be capable of diverting 95% of stormwater that falls on our 39 acres from the city’s sewer system.

Cool Plan for a Cool City

Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65% of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways contribute to what is called the “urban heat island effect,” causing a city to be significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Studies show that painting these surfaces a lighter color can keep cities cooler and improve environmental conditions.

Our Parking Garden offers a respite from this problem by tackling both its causes and effects. With light gray pavers, the parking surface reflects more light than heat-absorbing asphalt parking lots while the mini-bioswales cool the air as their plants absorb water and transpire.

Several native trees, such as scarlet oaks (Quercus coccinea), willow oaks (Quercus phellos), crab apples (Malus spp.), flowering dogwoods (Cornus spp.), provide shade to parked cars, preventing overheating and reducing air conditioner use.

Double Duty Plants

Selected to evoke the native ecology of the area, the plantings in the Parking Garden reflect the diverse habitats of wet meadows, wetlands, prairies, and brushlands. In combination, these landscapes support a greater diversity of native species while providing greater benefits to humans in the form of shade, cooling of the microclimate and stormwater management. As natural succession and horticultural management sculpt these landscapes in the future, they will continue to be everchanging, ever welcoming to new communities of native organisms.

The Parking Garden and Sustainable Landscapes and Buildings Project were made possible by a dedicated team of professionals from Queens Botanical Garden, city agencies, consultants and contractors. Queens Botanical Garden is thankful for Leadership Support and the environmental vision of New York City’s elected leaders including the New York City Office of the Mayor, Queens Borough President’s Office, New York City Council, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs,
and New York City Department of Design and Construction.

Photo Credits: Jess Brey, Eryn Hatzithomas, H. David Stein, illustration by Sven Johnson