Rooftop Gardens have been popular and even legislated through city by-laws in the European Union for a number of years. North Americans are just now catching onto the practical idea of rooftop gardens and their tremendous benefits. Many commercial buildings, universities, hospitals, and restaurants are implementing different types of rooftop gardens for the enjoyment of employees, students, and customers alike.
Rooftop gardens are also becoming a popular trend in homes with some easy DIY solutions to creating your own elevated oasis.
Benefits of Rooftop Gardens
Besides the obvious aesthetic appeal of rooftop gardens on large commercial buildings, they also serve very important purposes in uniting people, creating a natural habitat, producing oxygen and filtering toxins, improving air quality, capturing rainwater, and promoting food production.
Having a garden space available to those working in or visiting the building increases the sense of community within the environment, giving everyone an opportunity to experience nature in an urban or industrial setting. The rooftop garden also provides a habitat for birds and other wildlife in an area which otherwise would not be available to them.
Plants grown in the garden are exposed to direct sunlight, giving them better opportunity to produce oxygen, improve air quality, and filter toxins. These gardens also absorb solar radiation, catch rainwater for runoff management, and reduce the building’s energy consumption by providing insulation.
For the average person, the most exciting result of implementing a rooftop garden is the food that’s produced by the plants grown. The fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the garden’s yield can be sold to community residents which supports the local economy. Additionally, the required maintenance of the rooftop garden means job creation.
Of course each rooftop garden system will be designed differently and will vary in specific environmental results. To see a full list of the numerous benefits described in detail check out GreenRoofs.org.
Structures of Rooftop Gardens
Generally there are two types of rooftop gardens; extensive and intensive. Extensive gardens cover the entire roof surface with a thin layer of grow medium. They are low maintenance and require minimal watering. These are the most common rooftop gardens found in urban areas today.
Intensive rooftop gardens still cover the entire surface, but are generally used for ornamental purposes as opposed to being solely for food production. They also have a wider variety of vegetation. The mediums used are thicker, heavier, and require more maintenance. Additionally, the roof structure needs to have greater weight-bearing capability.
Examples of Rooftop Gardens
Here are some buildings pioneering the rooftop garden revolution:
- Kaiser Center in Oakland, California
- Boulder Community Hospital in Boulder, Colorado
- Rosemary’s Restaurant in New York, New York
- Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois
If you love rooftop gardens as much as we do, you might also love the Urban Agriculture protection happening in Los Angeles: L.A.’s Urban Agriculture Planning Performed By UCLA Students