Window Box Planter, Window Flower Box or Rectangular Flower Pots

urban-rectangle-flower-pot

Did you know that flower boxes are also known as window boxes, window flower box or window box planters? This would also seem to imply that there is no distinction between rectangular and square planters. The rectangular flower pots it would seem are probably the most popular type of planters followed by round planters. Rectangular planters can be used to create boundaries, borders and walls. They can be placed on window sills, hung on patio rails and fences and placed in windows. Attached to walls or places on ledges, rectangular planters are great for tight spaces.

Trelliage grid attached to rectangular planters can be used to create freestanding privacy screens to shield restaurant patios from sidewalk traffic or create buffer screens between multi-family apartment units. They’re also a great way to display a collection
of beautiful trailing plants and can be used to soften the sound in hard surface environments.

Current material used to fabricate rectangular flowerboxes include concrete, fiberglass, gfrc – glass fiber reinforced concrete , thermoplastic and wood. Recent product advancements have included the ability to wrap a rectangular or square fiberglass flower pot liner with U.S. fabricated Boulevard Upscaled FSC certified wood in oak or ash. This process allows for the wood to be placed on one, two, three or four sides of the planters depending on how the planter interact with other components of the project. This flexibility can generate significant cost saving on a project that is being value engineered or provide a the look and feel of wood at a fraction of the cost. Wood planter usually last about 3-5 years, but the Boulevard Upscaled FSC certified wood is projected last up to 20 years.

seacrest-rectangle fiberglass-flower-pot

Thermoplastic rectangular planters are also worth bringing into the discussion about rectangular planter. Thermoplastic makes it possible to create double walled planters with self watering irrigation features. The self watering feature is a favorite option for property owners and manager concerned about the cost or ability to have planter watered daily or interested in reducing their overhead labor cost associated with maintaining planters. The Seacrest planters are a good example of self-watering planters.

Whether you call rectangular flower pots, window box planters, window flower boxes or rectangular flowerboxes, it doesn’t matter. It all about the atmosphere they create when
filled with flowers.

Posted in Flowerpot, Street Furniture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Flower Pot Ideas

Round Concrete Flower Pot

Round Concrete Flower Pot

Yes, Punxsutawney Phil and his brethren’s saw their shadows a couple of weeks ago
and yes, winter storms have pummeled the U.S. But eventually the sun will shine, temperatures will rise and another spring growing season will begin. However, if you’re planning vibrant and brilliant summer colors on the balcony, deck and patio, in a roof top garden or as a street furniture element, this is the time to select flower bowls, flower pots, flower boxes or planters. Beat the last minute late spring factory ordered flower pot rush by planning now.

During the planning process, you’ll find plenty of outdoor planters to consider. In the market place, you’ll find cast stone, concrete, fiberglass; gfrc or glass fiber reinforced concrete, thermoplastic and wood flowerpots. In addition, there are self-watering planters which make excellent rooftop gardening flower beds or raised food beds and custom designed planters for those unique projects required something different. If you’re planning a roof garden, an intensive green roof or a apartment balcony garden, you might consider fiberglass flowerpots. They’re lightweight. GFRC planters on the other hand provide the look and texture of concrete but weigh about 60% less than concrete planters. If cost is an issue, thermoplastic plant containers made with thermoplastic might be a good option.

Most flower planters are available in a variety of surface textures and coating options including metal matched paint – think bright and shiny automotive colors or metal infused color to provide subdued finishes like bronze, silver or patina. Color matching of popular colors from major paint manufacturers are also generally available.

As you might guess, planter are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. The common planters shapes are bowls, rectangles rounds and squares although recently new planters are taking on geometric and practical application shapes. Round planter sizes too have grown from small household sizes to giant tree sized planter. Rectangle planters have also grown in planter length and height.

One additional feature to consider this spring for summer long plant color and vibrancy are a self watering or sub irrigated planter irrigation system. Placed inside your new or existing planters and filled with water once every two or three weeks, they’ll keep your plant alive and healthy for the entire summer. Self watering irrigation systems are available for almost any planter size and shape. Need helping determining which self watering planter irrigation system to use with your existing flower pots, send an email to info at Streetscapes dot biz.

Don’t let Punxsutawney Phil and his brethren delay your spring planter planning process. Make your planter selection soon for timely delivery of outdoor planters

Posted in Greenroof, Healthcare, Healthy Communities, Public Amenities, Public Spaces, Roof Garden, Roof Top Garden, Street Furniture, Streetscapes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authentic Urban Public Seating

Seaside Urban Public Seating

Seaside Urban Public Seating

Until recently, public seating in most large cities tended to be battle tested heavy-duty benches that were selected to withstand the test of time. You no doubt have seen those benches in almost every town that you’ve ever visited. You can’t miss them. They’re fairly generic looking and they’re at bus stops, positioned in streetscape right of ways, along multi-purpose parks trails; in town squares and many other places that require benches or public seating. Yes, you’ve seen them. They’re typically painted green or black and are usually located in combination with matching trash receptacles or recycling stations, and sometimes with bike racks and bollards. They’re practical and functional but are not very creative and sometimes very uncomfortable.

Fast forward to 2014 where the conversation around public spaces now involve authenticity, creating destinations, establishing distinctive community brands, celebrating art and activating public spaces. The old standard in evolving into authentic urban public seating that celebrates distinctiveness, new public sensibilities and the many ways that we choose to engage in public spaces. The old standard involved (1) a straight bench made of metal or wood, (2) with or without a back, and (3) embedded or attached in a permanent location.

The evolving public seating standards now include a wide array of organic or unusual shapes and sizes designed for many other uses besides resting or daytime sitting or waiting. There are small seating units designed as private public seating rather than welcome one – welcome all group seating. Movie night in the park or in the neighborhood takes on a different feel with a multi-level theatre bench. The generic bench takes on a different character as the retro seaside bench.

Concrete benches usually associate with bulk and mass has become scaled down versions of it’s former self dazzling us with vertical and horizontal planes, curves, turns and modularity so that the seating doesn’t overwhelm a particular space. Since many public spaces are popular during the evening hours, we also starting to see lighting incorporated into the various seating elements.

Similar to artists stretching the boundaries of new materials, the evolving public seating standards so far has embraced many different types of material – steel, various hardwoods, sustainable wood; upcycled wood, cast stone, gfrc, polymers, stainless steel and hdpe.

Best of all, the new evolving public seating standards appear to be custom designed products but are really standard off-the-shelf designs created by forward looking manufacturers. Here’s a snapshot of authentic urban public seating.

Posted in Artistic Bicycle Racks, Bicycle Parking, Bicycle Racks, Bike Rack Art, Decorative Bicycle Racks, Litter Receptacles, Parks, Plaza Seating, Public Amenities, Public Places, Public Realm, Public Seating, Public Spaces, Rubbish Bins, Street Furniture, Streetscapes, Sustainable Design, Trash Receptacles, Uncategorized, Urban | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Parklets Have Gone Mainstream!

Indoor Parklet at 2014 Smart Growth Conference

Indoor Parklet at 2014 Smart Growth Conference

The idea of turning parking spaces into small parks or parklets has gone mainstream. Orginating in San Francisco in 2005, parklets are urban parks or plaza created by extending sidewalks or pedestrian activity zones into space usually reserved for automobile parking.

To create the additional space, the sidewalk elevation is extended into the street using pedestal supports and structural tiles. Once constructed, the new space is populated with an assortment of pedestrian amenities. Parklets are quickly becoming an important part of the urban and not so urban fabric.

The benefits of parklets are numerous – they provide public space in areas lacking such space, create pedestrian street activity, support neighborhood retail and impact air quality. Parklets create civic conversation and engagement and they have the potential to engergize neighborhoods. Typical parklet locations include business, entertainment, retail and restaurant districts; multi-family residential and office/commercial districts.

Parklets originally gained traction as a way to create temporary parks in densely populated areas, retail business owner, economic development officials, active transportation planners and smart growth advocates have embraced parklets as a way to create more walkable and pedestrian friendly communities.

Primarily found in urban areas, parklets have the potential to impact both urban and rural communities. They can provide a catalyst to energize a struggling neighborhood, temporarily demonstrate the impact of a low cost high impact idea or solicit input on a proposed program prior to it’s actual implementation. Parklets have been promoted by advocates of CNU (Congress for New Urbanism), Smart Growth, Tactical Urbanism or DIY to turn the planning process upside down.

Many cities – most notably Los Angeles through it’s People St. program – has created a formal process for those neighborhoods and business districts interested in installing parkets. They’ve created citywide regulations to support parklets and developed support documents to encourage parklets.

Within the support documents, there are manuals for three different categories of parklets – Plaza Parklets, Street Parklets and Bike Corrals. The manuals include recommended locations and eleven different parklet models. The kit of parts include roadbed graphics, recommended types of furniture for each of the parklets and wayfinding signage.

The parklet typicals and parklet component list are rather extensive. However, none of the parklet typical emphasized components to accommodate kids or families – a major oversight. Trash receptacles also weren’t included in the kits of parts despite an emphasis of parklet maintenance and cleanliness. Also noticeably missing were umbrellas or shade devices. Consideration might also be given to creating parklets for pets as a way to channel some pet activities.

Parklet cost estimates according to People St. ranges between – $35,000.00 to $60,000.00 depending on the typical selection. That range is probably consistent with custom produced product, but readily available off the shelf components are more cost effective and will reduce parklet cost by 30% to 50%. The People St. program application requires that a parklet be installed within 30 days of receiving approval. That requirement probably also adds to the cost of the parklets especially if custom components are used. Many off the shelf parklet components are usually available within that time frame.

Take a look at the various parklet programs across North America.
– Here’s a selected list of parklet websites –
Boston – Curbed Parklets
Oakland – Parklet Program
San Francisco – Pavement to Parks
Seattle – Pilot Parklet Program
Tucson – Tucson’s First Parklet
Vancouver – Parklet Pilot Program

Posted in Bicycle Parking, Bicycle Racks, Bike Rack Art, Chair, Cities, Decorative Bicycle Racks, Parklet, Parklets, pedestrian amenities, Public Amenities, Public Places, Public Realm, Public Seating, Public Spaces, Uncategorized, Urban | Comments Off

Public Space Updates

Tables and Chairs at Sidewalk Cafe

Tables and Chairs at Sidewalk Cafe

Webinars
April 2nd
The Public Health Impact of Community Speed Reduction

Designing Better Places
Eight Part Series on Designing Public Spaces
Sneckdown: Using Snow to Design Safer Streets
There’s a Science to Foot Traffic, And it Can Help Us Design Better Cities

Pedestrians and Walking
Cartoon – If Pedestrians Had Clout
It’s Not Too Far – Walk Your City
Safe Routes to Everywhere
The Impact of Neighborhood Walkability on Walking Behavior

Pedestrian Safety
Jaywalking: How the Car Industry Outlawed Crossing the Road
NY Vision Zero Report and Street Safety Agenda
NY Vision Zero Action Plan

Street Design
Finland: Drivers Will No Longer Rule the Road in Cities of the Future
How to Make Crosswalks Artistically Delightful
NY Times – The Mean Street of New York
San Francisco Ponders Rainbow Colored Crosswalks
What Maps of Philly Pedestrian Deaths Tells Us about Street Design
World Class Streets Have More Pedestrians
World Class Streets

Traffic Calming
The Atlantic Cities – A DIY Approach to Slowing A City’s Cars

Posted in Public Amenities, Public Places, Public Realm, Public Spaces, Streetscapes, Uncategorized, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

2014 Rocky Mountain City Summit

Artistic City Bench

Artistic City Bench

I had the opportunity last week to attend the 2014 Rocky Mountain City Summit in Denver sponsored by the Downtown Denver Partnership and Cigna Health– the presenting sponsor.

The City Summit was organized with three primary goals in mind –
1. Inspire the private sector to provide leadership in city building through innovative real estate development, public policy, city planning and public private partnerships.
2. Build cross functional relationship within and though out the Rocky Mountain West cities.
3. Share innovative ideas from local and global sources.

The Summit included both local and global fire power from presentations by Dr. Benjamin Barber – political theorist and author of “If Mayors Ruled the World“, Jennifer Bradley, Fellow, The Brooking Institute and co-author of the Metropolitan Revolution, Dr. Richard Florida – the best selling author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Cities and the Creative Class, The Flight of the Creative Class and Who’s your City; Charles Landry, author of The Creative City and The Art of City Making and Kimbal Musk – Founder of the Kitchen and the Kitchen Community who began the “Learning Gardens” program.

As you can tell from this line-up, there was quite a bit of conversation about cities and creativity and what can and should be done to make them unique and more enjoyable. There were also local and regional speaker breakout sessions with topics that included Smart Urban Mobility, The New Way of Engaging the Community, Collaborative Consumption and Tactical Urbanism.

As a person attempting to create a new standard for how we perceive, design and interact with public spaces, the Rocky Mountain City Summit was a breath of fresh air. The Summit provided a much needed snapshot into cities and how they can be transformed into unique, enjoyable and fun places for their citizens.

Posted in Better Block, Cities, City, Community Garden, Healthy Communities, Public Places, Public Spaces, Sustainable Design, Uncategorized, Urban | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Spring Streetscape Maintenance Checklist

Spring Cleaning Idea!

Spring Cleaning Idea!

Furniture and Site Amenities
1. Check flower pots for damage.
2. Replace soil or add soil amendments to existing flower pots.
3. Purchase new flower pots in later winter/early spring for best delivery.
4. Consider self watering flower pot inserts to prevent over and underwatering.
5. Consider saucers for flower pots where overwatering creates a safety issue.
6. Re-stain or re-seal wood benches, chairs, planters and tables.
7. Organize errant newpaper boxes with modular newspaper vending boxes.
8. Check street furniture and other elements for graffiti.
9. Check benches, trash can and sidewalks for gum. Remove where necessary.
10. Repair or replace damaged street furniture.
11. Inventory streetscape fixtures in need of repair.
12. Inspect bike racks, benches, trash cans and planters for damage.
13. Clean under trash receptacle to prevent unsanitary conditions.
14. Clean and/or repair street furniture if required.

Flower Beds, Lawns and Trees
15. Weed and mulch flower beds, trees and shrubs where needed.
16. Remove dead or damaged tree and shrub branches.
17. Trim perennials.
18. Aerate landscaped areas.
19. Fertilize trees, shrubs and flowers as needed.
20. Trim tree’s near power lines.
21. Inspect and replace tree grates if damaged or destroyed.
22. Install new pet waste stations if needed.
23. Remove debris from drain covers.

Sprinklers
24. Test and inspect irrigation system for damage, proper operation and coverage.
25. Check sprinkler heads to prevent water damage to walks, deck, patios or buildings.

Sidewalks
26. Inspect sidewalks for tree root damage and freeze-thaw heaving.
27. Repair cracked, broken or missing sidewalks or pavers.
28. Reseal sidewalk joints.
29. Clear sidewalks of overgrown bushes and other obstacles.
30. Clean and power wash sidewalks where needed.

Site Lighting
31. Check landscape lighting for damage.
32. Repair or replace burned out light bulbs or lamps.
33. Repair or replace damaged or missing light poles.
34. Switch light bulbs or lamps to LED’s where possible.

Posted in Public Amenities, Public Spaces, Spring Maintenance Check List, Street Furniture, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

Until Spring Comes Along

 

Aquarian Planters and Sunloungers

Aquarian Planters and Sunloungers

 

The weather this winter in the U.S. has been brutal especially east of the Rocky Mountains and along the eastern seaboard. There has been heavy snowfall, record cold temperatures and crazy weather in unexpected places – like Atlanta where freezing rain and a little snow shut the city down for days.

Yes, it still winter for another month or so, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to spring.  Now that the Sochi Olympic’s is over, my mind has been wandering about. Let’s see, there’s turning the soil in garden and adding amendments.  There’s planning for new vegetables in the garden, deciding which vegetables from last season should get a second chance and how to boost the output of everything.  Then of course, there’s the fixing the drainage problems that this winter’s weather exposed. And of course, I need to start walking again.

But basically like most of you, I’m looking forward to spending more time outside in the warm sun taking in the rays.  I can’t wait to see the spring foliage beginning to bloom.  Until then, I’ll be listen to and watching the Happy Song.

 

Posted in Garden Furniture, Pool Furniture, Public Amenities, Public Spaces, Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Parklets 2.0

Placematters, WalkDenver, Streetscapes Inc. and the Denver Botanic Gardens has collaborated on an indoor parklet during the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. The indoor parklet includes FSC certified thermally modified structural hardwood tiles harvested in the U.S. The tiles are splinter, twist and wrap resistant. Used with the Versijack and SpiraPave paver support system, the structural tiles create can public gathering spaces almost anywhere.

versijack-pedestal-orenco-1

The indoor parklet also contains a living wall grid system flowerbox, a pebble stool for seating variety, various style planters and an oversized side post mounted umbrella. Located in a quiet light filled zone, distinctive benches, folding bistro tables and chairs and a portable patio table with multi-colored chairs fill the space. Participants eager for a little exercise will find a ping pong table hidden in the parklet waiting for players.

green-wall-planter-trellis-4872-6X6
The parklet is located on the third floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver Hotel NorthEast corner and will be on display until 2:30 pm Saturday. If you’re attending the conference or located in Denver, the parklet is in a public space. Come by and take a look!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Last Mile Symposium

Denver RTD Fastracks Streetscapes, Inc

I recently had the opportunity to attend the “Last Mile Symposium” organized by the Denver Regional Council of Governments – a regional transportation policy organization. The symposium title surprised me for a regional transportation planning organization but it illustrates the mindset of those in transportation – the only transportation that really matter are bicycles, cars, buses, light rail and trains. I guess it never occurred to anyone that both first and last mile issues begin and end with walking or being a pedestrian.

The symposium began with an overview of the reasons for a last mile symposium. The Denver Fastracks program is a multi-billion dollar project currently involving 108 miles of light rail track and approximately 57 stations. 5 new lines or extension of existing lines are under construction and will come on line within the next 2-3 years. Denver citizens as a whole are very excited about the light rail system and all of the opportunities that it brings to the city. But many people living in neighborhoods along the light rail system are finding access to the rail system difficult. In the suburban areas, meandering streets, cul-du-sacs, dead end street and the lack of pedestrian paths are creating pedestrian barriers to the rail stations. In some urban neighborhoods, the lack of sidewalks, poorly maintained sidewalks or very narrow sidewalks create additional pedestrian obstacles. Then there’s the issue of wide high speed arterial streets that provide very little protection for pedestrians brave enough to consider an attempt at crossing.

Sadly enough, there was never a conversation during the symposium about pedestrians or walking and the infrastructure that makes walking a preferred choice over driving to a rail station or park and ride.

It was a great idea to get the conversation started in the Denver community about “last mile” connections … but the conversation should be about both first and last mile connections and pedestrian access to the rail stations. If public transportation advocates and planners aren’t talking about pedestrian issues, I guess it illustrates the lack of importance given to pedestrians and walking issues.

Posted in Bus and Transit, Economic Development, Fitness, Healthy Communities, Neighborhood, passenger amenities, pedestrian amenities, Public Amenities, Streetscapes, Urban, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off