APPLICATIONS / Green Roof & Horticulture Overview

Green Roof & Horticulture

Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate (ESCS) plays a valuable role in today’s horticulture, Green Roof and landscape design. For innovative, cost-effective, long-term solutions to modern horticulture and landscape design challenges, design professionals have turned to ESCS. Whether it is creating an ideal planting media for a rooftop garden, designing a soil for an athletic field or improving an existing soil to sustain a plant design, ESCS is the logical solution.

What is ESCS?

ESCS is a lightweight, ceramic material produced by expanding and vitrifying select shales, clays and slates in a rotary kiln. The process produces high quality ceramic aggregate that is structurally strong, physically stable, durable, environmentally inert, light in weight, and highly insulative. It is a non-toxic, absorptive aggregate that is dimensionally stable and will not degrade over time.

ESCS Applications

Rooftop Garden Planting Media

Combining ESCS with varying amounts of organic matter creates a lightweight planting media for intensive and/or extensive rooftop gardens.

Designer Soils

With ESCS, soils can be created or altered to meet design specifications or address precise project requirements. Designer soils are often required for rooftop gardens, raised planters, containers and urban tree plantings.

Soil Amending

Incorporating ESCS into heavy clay soil can provide permanent aeration and drainage within the root zone. ESCS can improve the properties and qualities of existing soils to meet the requirements of the landscape design.


ESCS is combined with peat, sand and other amendments to form root zone soil mixes for golf courses, athletic fields and related turf surfaces. It is also applied as topdressing over established turf.

Storm Water Management

ESCS amended soil reduces surface runoff by permitting storm water to percolate and infiltrate the soil surface. Rain gardens, vegetated filter strips and turf pavers are examples of storm water management tools that benefit from ESCS.

Infield Conditioner for Ball Fields

Adding ESCS to the infield mix prevents the skinned surface from becoming hard and compacted. It also improves drainage, allowing the infield to dry out quickly after inclement weather, reducing down time.

Lightweight Fill

At nearly half the weight of common fills, ESCS provides an ideal lightweight fill for backfilling retaining walls, reducing loads over structures or insulating thermally sensitive elements.

Compared to ESCS, natural sand and soil are heavy. They frequently require that structural modifications be made to the project’s design. Native soils have silts and clays that may clog the filter materials or drainage layer and reduce effectiveness. The physical properties of natural volcanic aggregates vary widely with source and location. Natural materials may degrade and compact over time, and require additions to or replacement of planting media. Some horticultural products used in greenhouses and container planting, such as vermiculite and perlite, are extremely light in weight and do not offer adequate anchorage and support for larger plants. In exterior applications vermiculite and perlite often float to the top of the planting media where they can be carried away by wind or water.

Weight reduction and product performance are the primary reason ESCS is so versatile and used in so many different applications:

  • Weight reduction is very beneficial in lowering shipping cost and reducing dead loads.
  • Shipping: Almost all construction products are shipped therefore, TO BUILD IS TO TRANSPORT. As an example of the money saving, truck reducing available when using ESCS.
  • Dead Load Reduction – Dead load reduction becomes very important in roof top gardens and other elevated applications as well as when unstable soil conditions exist.
  • Thermo-Structural Stability – Because of the extremely high temperature (approx 2,000ºF) used in the firing production of ESCS, these aggregates have in effect been proof tested thus providing resistance to the thermal shock experienced in commercial refractory or consumer products, such as gas grill, briquettes, fireplace logs, fire box liners, etc.
  • An accessible system of pores – A large volume of accessible pores provides a vehicle for absorption, storage and then desorption of water or solutions containing admixtures. This includes rainwater in gardens, and as a carrier of solutions containing chemical admixtures, herbicide and fertilizer.
  • Water resisting consumer products – The proven resistance to the degrading effects of wetting/drying makes ESCS as a valuable component of wallboard, roof tiles, and artificial stone.
  • Product Durability – ESCS is a strong, durable lightweight ceramic material that will not degrade over time.