Green Roofs: The Urban Gardens Of The Future
Today, gardening is becoming an almost impossible task, especially with the increasing lack of gardening space, more so in urban areas. As many are aware, gardening significantly reduces the possibilities of food shortage, and as such, green roof agriculture, and gardening in urban areas, is a necessity in the fight against imminent worldwide hunger.
According to leading green roof websites, food shortage is a reality the world over and urban gardens offer one practical way to reduce world hunger, if not end it all the same. A green roof garden refers to the carpeting of plants on a rooftop, which also enhances energy performance of the building and reduces storm runoff water. While many urban residents have gardens in containers or flower pots on rooftops, this practice does not provide the same energy saving possibilities that green roofs offer.
Starting a green roof garden is more complicated and involved–in comparison to planting on the ground–and if you want to start one of your own, listed below are a few factors you should take into consideration.
Urban Garden Safety
It is of uttermost importance to ensure that your garden is safe. Roofs are exposed to the wind so installing a fence and securely tying down equipment is essential to protect people passing by from falling objects. It is also important to consult the local building department to check if there are any additional safety regulations or required permits.
Green Roof Weight
Wet soil is heavy, and wet snow on top of soil makes it even heavier, which means you have to figure out a sustainable weight load for your roof. When it comes to weight: a container that is eight inches deep will weigh 24 pounds per square foot when damp and 28 pounds per square foot when soaking wet. For reliable guidelines regarding weight, consult a structural engineer, as too much weight in the wrong place could lead to structural damage. Also, consider an alternative (and lighter) planting medium in place of soil; many green gardens consist of a mix of 15% vermiculite, 45% stalite, 15% stalite permatill and 25% compost. And don’t forget that any additional weight, like snow, will have to be pushed off the beds as soon as possible to prevent possible load issues.
For an urban roof garden, look for lightweight containers that allow drainage. These types of containers can typically be placed flat against the roof to maximize energy benefits. Alternatively, using a modular planting system specifically developed for green roofs ensures that plant roots do not burrow into your roof membrane. On a budget? Unconventional materials like feed sacks, wading pools and even recycled tires can work well for urban gardeners who are pinching pennies.
You will have to water your green roof garden on a daily basis during the hot summer months. Running a hose up the side of your house and attaching it to a timer system and drip lines is an effective solution that will allow you to go for several days without having to worry about your plants getting dehydrated.
Finally, you will have to consider what you can grow on your roof. Remember that not all plants will perform as well up high on a roof as they do on the ground. In most cases, the lightweight planting medium you use will likely be too gravely and not of a suitable depth for root vegetables. Some varieties that do work well for green roof agriculture include:
- Snow peas
- Bush beans
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mustard greens
While some of those that do not perform well include:
- Collard greens
It is important to note that there are several details to take into consideration when building a green roof urban garden. As such, doing the appropriate research and consulting a specialist are all recommended.
About Bob Gorman
Bob Gorman is a freelance contributor to health and wellness blogs around the world; connect with him on Twitter for more DIY projects.
The views and opinions of guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Full Circle.