When it comes to sustainable design, a rooftop garden can provide the ideal real estate for adding more green to your home. Instead of a traditional garden that requires a plot of land, a luxury that urban and apartment dwellers don’t have access to, the roof can be an ideal place to grow a garden. Designing a rooftop garden can be a collective effort that brings a community together, as the cityscape is reclaimed for a beautiful purpose.
What makes a rooftop garden so unique? Not only does a rooftop garden get plenty of sunlight, rain, and nourishment from nature, but it can also serve as an outdoor gathering space for your neighbors. A rooftop garden has the added benefit of reducing energy waste by creating a layer of green insulation that can be added to each season. From apartment buildings to commercial structures, rooftop gardens are leading the way to re-purposing valuable outdoor spaces.
As you prepare for designing a rooftop garden, there are three important questions to ask first before investing the time and money into a garden of this nature.
- Is the roof structure able to handle the extra weight of a garden?
- How will you access, protect and maintain the rooftop garden?
- What plants will thrive and provide the best return for your investment?
Once you’ve established these things, you are ready to design your own rooftop garden, to add beauty and energy savings to your property. Here are some tips for getting started.
- Draw out your entire rooftop area, including the access points to determine the best location for plants, furnishings, shade and lighting options. You can use a computerized home landscaping design product or just plain paper and pencil works fine. Use a ruler to measure things to scale. Create 2-3 versions of your plans so you can be flexible.
- Get the approved paperwork from your local building and permits department to add a rooftop garden to your structure. You must comply with local building codes before you start work on your rooftop garden. In some cases, this may also require a visit from a building inspector and possibly a licensed contractor before you can start your garden project.
- Determine how your rooftop garden will be maintained, protected and irrigated throughout the year. This is vital to the life of your green rooftop. Have a plan for watering, providing weather protection, pest prevention and seasonal plant maintenance so that your garden does well.
- Choose the type of rooftop garden you want to create, by visiting a home and garden center to review designs and options in outdoor furnishings, pergolas, and solar lighting. Skim through design catalogs and rooftop gardening books for more ideas. You can gain a lot of valuable insight and advice by working directly with gardening experts as you design your rooftop paradise.
- Select garden plants and trees that are native to your region, as well as the soil materials and lightweight containers that work well with each type of plant. You’ll have greater success and be able to maintain your garden when you use proven methods of planting.
- Map out your rooftop garden with masking tape, adding the areas for furnishings, lighting and any shade elements you want to include. Do a walk-thru to make sure you are able to navigate well before adding plants.
You are now ready to start creating your modern, rooftop garden in style. Remember, work with sustainable materials, and choose furnishings and plants that are easy to maintain first. Start small and add to your rooftop garden over time. Make this a collective effort by including friends and family. Or set up a community event and invite your neighbors to help you make your dream of beautifying your building a reality. A rooftop garden can provide years of enjoyment, adds to the beauty of nature, and is an extension of your living spaces.
About the Author: Mike Zook is a home improvement professional specializing in outdoor design and landscaping. When he’s not writing, you can find Mike consulting for companies like Cahill, a Northbrook plumbing company.
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Relaxing Outdoor Activities Read more
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