GrunnGras, a municipal experiment using so-called green tiles in the Oranjebuurt in Groningen, is yielding promising results.
By Hans de Preter and Traci White
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that the GrunnGras (Groningen/Green Grass) experiment has been well received so far: the tiles were put in place on the Adelheidstraat in the Oranjebuurt in March and are now in full bloom.
The plans for the special plant tiles were put forward by the Party for the Animals and Labour factions in the municipal council last summer. The holes in the bricks and tiles help to trap particulates and soot from the air, and the plants themselves will improve air quality by taking in carbon dioxide, as well as attracting insects.
GrunnGras is an initiative of Harry Bos, a resident of Adelheidstraat, who initially came up with the idea as a way to incorporate more green space on his street. Local artist Martin Borchert was also looking for a place to try out his green sidewalk tiles and wanted to support the municipality, which proved to be serendipitous timing.
Some of the existing sidewalk tiles have been adapted to make room for the plants, many of which are from the sedum genus. which is a range of flowering plants which are considered low maintenance and are a good filler for otherwise arid areas. The tiles are also home to clover, thyme and cockleburs, and the plants are already attracting bumble bees. Green sidewalk tiles are beneficial for sufficient drainage of rain water into the soil, and increased urban green space has also been linked to improved mental and physical well-being of the local population.
The response on social media to the plans has revealed that other locals are interested in making their streets greener, specifically in the Vinkhuizen and Paddepoel neighbourhoods. The project will be evaluated in March of next year, at which potential expansion and follow up will be taken into consideration.