Solutions Series: Rooftop Gardens
Not enough space in your yard for a garden? Interested in making your home more resource efficient but not sure where to start? Your house includes its own unique space that you have probably never considered putting to use: the roof!
When you think about it, the right rooftop makes perfect sense for a garden. With ample exposure to sunlight and rain, level surfaces, and ease of access, rooftops prove the sky’s the limit when it comes to gardening.
Not only do rooftop gardens provide a convenient space for growing produce, but they also improve air quality, reduce rainwater runoff, provide habitat for pollinators, and mitigate urban heat island effect. Adding an extra layer of organic matter to your roof can reduce your energy bills by helping insulate your building in the winter, and provide cooling in the summer. There couldn’t be a better way to transform an underused space: from the typical pitch and tar no-man’s land that stresses the ecosystem to a verdant garden that produces many benefits, including being an ideal spot for relaxing on a warm day!
Special care must be taken to consider the load bearing capacity of the roof, soil depth needed for the crops you want to grow, suitability of plant types, and irrigation systems. Make sure you know how many pounds per square foot your roof can safely hold, and design your roof garden accordingly (an architect or structural engineer can help you calculate this). Lighter options include small planter boxes with herbs placed near weight-bearing walls. (Source: Use Your Roof Guidebook)
- Encourages local urban food production
- Utilizes under-used space
- Increases property value
- Improves air quality and reduces CO2 emissions
- Captures run-off water
- Creates more green space
- Improves your building’s insulation
- Reduces your city’s urban heat footprint