Do you find gardening as relaxing? Is it something you’d like to try if you had enough space? If so, you might want to consider a roof garden.
What is a Roof Garden?
It’s a garden on a roof of your home, garage, shed or overhang. A roof garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. While it can be a flat bed, you might also opt to use terra cotta containers.
One of the best sites for information on roof gardens is TheEnvironmentSite. It refers to roof gardens as esthetically pleasant, environmentally friendly and just plan functional.
Choosing the Right Type
The first step you need to take in planning a roof garden is deciding which type is appropriate for your circumstances. The three types pertain to the amount of maintenance each requires, the depth of soil available and the kinds of plants the garden can support.
Extensive living roofs. These gardens require minimal maintenance and only shallow soil. They’re lightweight and can be used even on sheds or small extensions. Plants amenable to growing there are usually hardy ones such as those found among rocks or on cliffs. They usually have limited visual appeal, however.
Semi-extensive living roofs. Because these gardens have a deeper soil level, you’ll have a greater choice of plants. They’re also generally more decorative but need a strong structure under them due to the weight of added soil. Maintenance is generally low.
Intensive living roofs. If you have enough structural support for trees and a full garden, you can consider planting one and come up with a very attractive arrangement of plants. However, most residential buildings aren’t sturdy enough for this type of garden.
How to Plant Your Roof Garden
You’ll need to build your roof garden using various components.
Waterproof layer. This is the first part of your rooftop garden. Place it immediately on top of the existing surface.
Roof membrane. The most practical items to use include a pond liner, butyl lining or 300-microndamp-proof polythene in one continuous sheet. Otherwise, you’ll need to overlap sheets.
Filter sheet. It permits any moisture to drain from the roof without carrying soil or fine particles with it.
Moisture blanket. Extensive living roofs need it to make sure there’s enough moisture for your plants. You can buy one retail or use cardboard or old blankets.
Drainage layer. You’ll probably want to buy one from a nursery or garden center. They’re usually made of plastic or geotextile materials and store water while letting any excess drain.
Soils and substrates. You’ll need a lightweight growing medium for the top layer. One combination is aggregates mixed with light sub-soils like crushed brick and limestone.
Seeds or plants. Choose sowing seeds on the substrate or planning plug plants.
Which Plants Will Work?
Your choice of plants will vary according to the type of roof you select, according to TheEnvironmentSite.
Mosses and Lichens. The lightest roof gardens can support these plants, which require minimal amounts of nutrients and rain water.
Sedum. Due to their hardiness and tolerance for drought, these are the most commonly grown plants for living roofs. However, they become patchy during unusually dry periods.
Wildflowers. Because of the steps for proper drainage you’ve followed to construct your garden, you might find it easier to grow roof meadows than in a traditional garden.
Calcareous grasslands. You can use limestone clipping as well as crushed brick and concrete to grow a calcareous meadow. These plants typically appear naturally on steep slopes and in pasture that hasn’t been plowed. An extensive living roof can support many types.
Vegetables. Some roof gardeners have the best lucking growing vegetables in containers. Otherwise, they’ll require a tray at least eight inches deep, The Kitchen reports. Among those vegetables gardeners consider easy to grow on a roof are herbs, lettuce, bush beans, pole beans, snow peas and bok choy. Many have good luck with kale, spinach, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mustard greens.
Standard tomatoes, ornamental squash and chard are harder to manage. Carrots, peppers, collards and broccoli are the most difficult to grow.
During the hottest months, water your rooftop garden every day. Sedum roofs require weeding several times each year. You’ll need to do very little to maintain a wildflower roof garden beyond cutting backing every two years or so.
If you’re convinced you’d like to try roof gardening, the only limit to the possibilities is your imagination.
The Kitchen site