July 17th 2010

How to make a rooftop garden

Most urban areas aren’t exactly made for gardening. Even if you have a house, as opposed to an apartment, the outdoor living space might be minimal at most. But if you’re longing for a garden, moving it up to the roof can be an easily solution. And this is what you need to do:

What is a rooftop garden?

Rooftop gardens are becoming more and more popular. They are gardens that are, simply, on the roofs of buildings. They’re most easily installed on flat roofs, but even if your roof has a bit of a slant, it’s possible to build one on there, too.

What you need and what to do

Before you begin, call your local city clerks and get the go ahead. Some cities and towns have by-laws. If you live in a rental, you will also want to contact your landlord.

When you’re ready to begin, it’s recommended to build sturdy walls around the garden, to shield it from very harsh elements. Be prepared for intense weather conditions by opting for small shrubs and little perennials that are compact to the ground.

Plants that are ideal for rooftop gardens are ones that just require a few inches of depth. It’s also beneficial if they are drought tolerant, such as cactus-type plants and low growing grasses. Small trees and shrubs are also ideal if you have a little more depth. Try cedar, ferns, grasses, lavender, mini-roses, and slow-growing dwarf conifers. Add some small flowers and herbs, then native fruiting plants for the birds.

Secure your pots and feed them often. In the winter, bring small plants in doors and wrap large shrubs with burlap.

The benefits of a “green roof”

Not only do rooftop gardens look nice, but they also provide insulation for your home in the winter and cool your home down in the summer. They’ll lengthen the life of your roof and reduce outside noises.

As with all gardens, they are good for the environment, too. They neutralize acid rain, remove nitrogen pollution from the rain, and reduce storm run off.

Animals love them, too. They’re a great habitat for small animals and birds will love the rooftop retreat.

For more information on building your own rooftop garden, check out Green Roofs for Healthy Cities at greenroofs.org.

Image courtesy of greenroofs.org

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.