For me, gardening is a respite from the stresses of every day. I love having a big, open garden to spend hours in, but have often wodnered what I would do if I had to move to a space without all this dirt to dig! Today’s guest blogger, Jolissa, answers some of my questions with her thoughts on rooftop gardens – enjoy!
In today’s world, a lot of us are concerned about being green. We do what we can to be a little bit more Earth-friendly, and we support those who are helping us to lessen our carbon footprints. One of the ways that people enjoy being Earth-friendly is gardening. There are many ways that gardens benefit our planet, and they can be fun!
There’s only one problem with gardening: cities. City folks like gardening, but it’s often impossible. Cities often have many green areas or parks, but you can’t exactly go start a garden in one of them. So, what can green-thumbed city dwellers do? Beyond planting small plants in pots and setting them by windows, a new answer has started popping up in cities everywhere: Put gardens on roofs!
A Myriad of Purposes
Rooftop gardens are sometimes a perfect solution for those who would love to garden but live in the city. They’re popping up everywhere in cities like Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL. They come in all sizes, and they’re used for different purposes. Some are just grass, tress, and small shrubs or flowers, and are used as a sort of rooftop park. Others function like vegetable gardens, and edible things are grown. Still others are flower gardens, with stone paths through beautiful flower bushes and shrubs. No matter their makeup, they’re all meant to be oases in the city, and they all provide some environmentally pleasing benefits.
A Positive Impact
Beyond lifting the spirits of those walking in them, rooftop gardens make several positive impacts on the environment.
- Air fresheners – Trees and plants take in carbon dioxide, filter it, and release it as oxygen. While you may think that just one green area in a couple square miles of city doesn’t do much, every little bit counts!
- Heat island reducers – Cities are often a couple degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside, because of the amount of paved (dark) space that attracts the sun’s rays. Adding parks and rooftop gardens wherever possible helps reduce this effect, as they reflect some of the heat while using some of it as energy. At the same time, they help cool the space around them via evaporation and shading.
- Building energy efficiency – Putting a garden on a rooftop can increase the energy efficiency of the building itself. During the summer, the garden will reflect sunlight and shade the roof, keeping the inside of the building from getting as warm and needing as much air conditioning. During the winter, the garden can act as insulation, keeping heating costs down.
- Clean water – Rooftop gardens will absorb some rainwater, keeping it from running over the dirty roof and becoming polluted before falling into the sewers. When the dirt can’t hold any more water, the water will begin filtering through and becoming clean. The clean runoff could be collected and used for later watering or cleaning inside the building.
- Good eating – Vegetables, herbs, and some fruits can all be grown in rooftop gardens. Especially if there’s a restaurant or kitchen within the building, this can be incredibly useful. Or, if it’s an apartment building, residents could share what they grow together. There are also plenty of charities that would love some fresh veggies!
How do I begin?
Not every roof is suitable for a rooftop garden. Not only does it need to be flat and have easy access, but it needs to be able to stand the weight of adding dirt, vegetation, and people. For instructions and tips for creating a rooftop garden, search the web for rooftop garden advice and professionals near you. You’ll need to chat with a contractor or architect before constructing a garden, to make sure your roof is structurally suitable.
Jolissa D. writes for Shingobee Builders, a nationally recognized commercial construction company that uses green initiatives to create energy-efficient solutions for buildings.