Rooftop Gardens in Urban Spaces

If you don’t have a lawn but want a garden, consider putting one on your roof! If properly created and maintained, you’ll have the benefits of a healthy garden while saving space.

| January 2017

Rooftop gardener

Steeply slanted roofs make it hard — although not impossible — to garden on.

Photo by Fotolia/kazoka303030

Abigail Gehring has put together a simple and informative guide to basic independent living in Self-Sufficiency (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010). Whether families are trying to move completely off the grid or just reduce their impact on the environment, this book is full of tips, advice, and instructions for everything, from tasks like building furniture and water systems to raising animals and making soap. Use this resource to find inspiration on living greener and more responsibility.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Self-Sufficiency.

If you live in an urban area and don’t have a lawn, that does not mean that you cannot have a garden. Whether you live in an apartment building or you’re a homeowner without yard space, you can grow your very own garden, right on your roof!

Is Your Roof Suitable for a Rooftop Garden?

Theoretically, any roof surface can be greened — even sloped or curved roofs can support a layer of sod or wildflowers. However, if the angle of your roof is over 30 degrees you should consult with a specialist. Very slanted roofs make it difficult to keep the soil in place until the plants’ roots take hold. Certainly, a flat roof, approximating level ground conditions, is the easiest on which to grow a garden, though a slight slant can be helpful in allowing drainage.

Also consider how much weight your roof can bear. A simple, lightweight rooftop garden will weigh between 13 and 30 pounds per square foot. Add to this your own weight — or that of anyone who will be tending or enjoying the garden — gardening tools, and, if you live in a colder climate, the additional weight of snow in the winter.

Will a Rooftop Garden Cause Water Leakage or Other Damage?

No. In fact, planting beds or surfaces are often used to protect and insulate roofs. However, you should take some precautions to protect your roof:

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