Each and every day mankind leaves footprints on this earth that can never be completely erased. We build and more people come to utilize the new housing developments, strip malls and business complexes that reduce our natural resources. While these things may meet our needs, they do take a toll on our environment.
Not only do rooftop gardens offer a place to produce fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers; the gardens help to reduce the ecological footprints left by ravaging the earth to build things we can’t live without.
There are several advantages to starting rooftop gardens. That’s why gardening on rooftops is a good means of transforming useless areas into lush, productive gardens that can help purify the air we breathe because the plants release oxygen. Rooftop gardens allow people who would otherwise have no growing space to plant vegetables and fruits the opportunity to harvest fresh homegrown food, as well as pretty flowers. Rooftop gardening also allows rainwater to be retained, thus helping to eliminate flooding.
If more than one person gardens on a single rooftop, the act of growing things is a common denominator that brings people together. It helps promote a feeling of community spirit.
Rooftop gardening helps to reduce the amount of electricity and other fuels needed to cool our buildings. Consider that the temperature of a conventional flat roof can soar up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The greenery that covers the surface of the roof helps to reduce the actual roof temperature, thereby reducing energy costs.
When constructing a rooftop garden, you must have a thorough understanding of weight loads and the structural integrity of the building on which you plan to put the garden. Soil and water are heavy, so it is probably best to confer with an expert so that you don’t overload the roof. You also need to be aware of any local zoning requirements and building codes that could affect a rooftop garden.
The sky is the limit when choosing plants for the rooftop garden. The commonly known vegetable plants will do will, as will many flower varieties. Plants that do well in containers will do well if placed on the roof. These might include carrots, radishes, potatoes, strawberries, onions, lettuce, red beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard and collard greens and peppers.
In green rooftop gardens where the roof is actually covered with commercial vegetated roof covers that replace roofing materials such as gravel ballast, shingles or tiles, the depth of the soil will dictate what crops will grow.
No matter what type of rooftop garden you have, it is best to have a source of water nearby. Use a rain barrel to capture water so that you don’t have to get it from the household source.
Container gardening on rooftops is the least inexpensive way to go. Cost will vary
Want to know more about rooftop and green roof gardens?
Read this Guide to Setting Up Your Own Rooftop Garden (PDF), and get the scoop on everything you could need to know about rooftop gardening.
Organic Gardening Magazine’s article on Green Roofs is a good starting source of information.
Check out this article about Rooftop Gardens in Los Angeles for an example of a producing rooftop garden.