Queens Botanical Garden - Where people, plants, and cultures meet
Parking Garden

A New Way to Think About Parking

QBG's Parking Garden is another innovative component of the Sustainable Landscapes and Buildings Project, furthering the environmental vision outlined in our Master Plan.

Demonstrating a more environmentally-sensitive method of managing stormwater onsite, the Parking Garden will help keep our city's rivers and bays clean by easing the burden on the city's sewer system, while offering visitors comfortable and inspiring gardens.  Like other features of QBG, the Parking Garden showcases sustainable practices in design.

Keeping Our Water Clean

QBG'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 spaces 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 upcoming 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 50-65% 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 helps mitigate urban heat island effect by tackling both its causes and effects.  With light gray pavers, the parking surface reflects more light than heat-absorbing asphalt parking lots while planted areas provide cooling air as 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.

Lighting the Way

Light fixtures in the Parking Garden and adjacent paths are powered by arrays of photovoltaic panels rather than the city's electric grid, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.  Designed to reduce escaping light, special light fixtures ensure that our neighbors can enjoy the night sky, while our plants and wildlife's natural circadian (light/dark) rhythms are not interrupted.

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 ever changing, ever welcoming to new communities of native organisms.

Learn more about the Sustainable Landscapes and Buildings Project.

Construction of the Parking Garden was a big undertaking as illustrated by these photos, but the end result is well worth the work. 


Photos: H. David Stein, Annette Fanara, Shari Romar, QBG Staff

Copyright 2006 Queens Botanical Garden | 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355