Rooftop Gardening - What Will This Trend Do for Urban Areas?

Rooftop Gardening - What Will This Trend Do for Urban Areas?

Dorothy Frances Gurney once said, "the kiss of the sun for pardon – the song of the birds for mirth – one is nearer God's Heart in a garden – than anywhere else on earth."

Will a rooftop garden bring one even closer?

Those who love gardening and live in the city have an outlet grow vegetables, herbs and flowers with urban gardening. A resident could plant in a community garden, but access to space for these traditional gardens is difficult to find, especially in densely inhabited areas. Throughout large cities in North America and Europe, rooftop gardens are becoming increasingly popular as a suitable option and are also considered as a means to minimize smog and summertime heat build-up. Developing rooftop gardens (as well as community gardening plots) improves the overall quality of life. The benefits include cleaner air, eye-appealing ambiance and a newer source for locally grown food.

Rooftop gardens and “green roofs” are often used in the same context, encompassing everything from planters on a terrace to flat-roofed buildings covered with vegetation. Actually, rooftop gardening refers to urban agriculture while green roofs are a construction procedure that requires specific building characteristics.

Growing vegetables and herbs in large container or raised beds is the most common, small scale urban gardening for rooftops. Restaurants and homeowners alike are producing crops and the results are quite satisfactory. However, producing crops on rooftops is challenging due to excessive heat as sunlight is especially intense and there are no trees to provide shade that cool the air. Wind speed is often much higher, but wind breakers can be used to mitigate plant stress. 

Plants grown on roofs have the same needs as those in the ground; they need water, fertilizer and good quality soil.  A water source must be provided and all runoff water is typically captured through a recirculation system.  Fertilizer can be pre-incorporated into the growing medium or injected into the irrigation water either in the form of organic or synthetic water soluble fertilizer.

Advantages of urban gardening:

  • Heat build-up reduction: In the summer, sunlight is absorbed by roofs making them very hot, with the heat radiated back into the air raising the temperature and into the building increasing the costs of cooling. The rooftop garden shades the roof, reduces heat retention and cooling the air inside and the outside area around the building.
  • Rainfall water runoff: Rooftop gardens can help reduce rainwater runoff (a problem in cities) as the plants use the water to support growth. 
  • Locally grown produce: The interest in buying locally grown produce is increasing in popularity. Rooftop gardening for vegetables should be small and compact. Vegetables and flowers are being downsized to fit into new lifestyles and space limitations. The smaller varieties of plants that do not outgrow their space are popular have exploded in number. Container-sized blueberries and raspberries are very popular as they are so easy to grow 
  • Fresh food available all year round within a short distance: Availability of fresh produce almost all year round is a strong feature for urban developers. Many grocery store chains are offering local produce to meet the demand. 

Rooftop gardening is a trend that is seeing substantial growth. A rising number of households and buildings recognize the numerous economical and aesthetic benefits of rooftop gardening. If you have a rooftop garden on your home or building, you will instantly realize that it reduces the effect of outside heat, and brings down the cost of heating and air-conditioning. It helps absorb air pollution, blocks noise pollution, filters the air, provides better insulation, and also attracts birds and bees. The proliferation of creative rooftop garden ideas such as growing a lawn, decorating the roof with potted plants, growing a patch of vegetation, seems endless. When looking for professional landscaping and towards a gardening trend that helps with a healthy and sustainable life, rooftop gardening is one of today’s best option and we can help.