If you have a peaked roof, roof gardens may not be not for you. But what about garden plants on your shed, chicken coop, or other flat-topped structure?
We are not going to get into the details of how to install a roof garden here because that would mean talking about moisture barriers, structural integrity, and a bunch of other topics beyond my skill set or interest level. You can check out this article for more of that information.
Instead of learning all the technical stuff needed to safely build a large-scale roof garden, we are simply going to explore roof gardens and learn a little about what they have to offer. Before we get started, we need to clarify the difference between green roofs and roof gardens. Roof gardens incorporate container plantings, seating areas, and outdoor living space, while green roofs are living blankets of plants installed primarily to improve insulation. Sod roofs are a type of green roof.
Roof gardens and rainwater
In cities around the world, rain falls on buildings and concrete, collecting car exhaust, trash, dust, grime, and who knows what else. This polluted water is then carried to our lakes, steams, oceans, and aquifers. Not good. Roof gardens reduce that run-off by absorbing the water and using it to provide for plants.
Roof gardens as habitat
Let’s face it - city dwellers rarely have access to enough natural surroundings. Roof gardens can offset that lack. Wildlife benefits in similar ways. Roof gardens provide habitat for a wide variety of native birds, animals, and beneficial insects. A series of roof gardens can also create a corridor for migratory birds and insects
Basic roof garden design
If you are sold on the roof garden idea and want to move forward, here are things you need to consider:
Rooftop garden plant selection
Rooting depth is particularly important when gardening on a roof. Check this list of plants and their minimum rooting depths to help you select the right plants for your roof garden:
Plants that can withstand a lot of wind and sun are also good choices. Succulents and most herbs certainly qualify. Remember, installing a roof garden can reduce summer energy costs by 25% to 80%.
Plus you get fresh herbs and vegetables!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!