Green roofs contribute to stormwater management through the retention of rainfall and the detention of runoff. These processes are reasonably well understood, and runoff responses can be accurately modelled given known system properties. The physical properties of the substrate are particularly relevant to the hydrological response. The substrate is a living biological system, whose properties may change over time. Two sizes of green roof microcosms (50 mm and 150 mm diameter) were observed over a 12-month period. Six system configurations were considered, with two contrasting substrates and three vegetation treatments. Multiple approaches were used to characterize the microcosms’ physical and hydrological properties: standard physical tests, bespoke laboratory detention tests, and visualization of the substrate and the root systems using X-ray microtomography. Results suggests that both the substrates’ maximum water holding capacity and its capacity to detain runoff tend to increase with age. However, there were inconsistencies in the data and these are discussed within the paper. The noted increases were generally not statistically significant as a result of substrate heterogeneity. Notably, the observed differences after one year were relatively small when compared with differences resulting from original substrate compositions and seasonal changes reported elsewhere.
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