I live in a restored downtown building. What’s the best way to do a rooftop garden?
The Gardener’s Answer
There are challenges in rooftop gardening, but the list of benefits goes on and on. Besides the aesthetics factor, simply adding plant material to your rooftop will help reduce energy needed for heating and cooling the building, improve air quality, and potentially reduce runoff. Larger plantings can also provide shade. The least expensive and most common option for a homeowner is creating a container garden.
Before adding any plant material to the roof, you should make certain that the roof is structurally sound and can handle the additional weight. The more involved option is to create layers, simulating a natural environment on top of the roof and walkways for maintenance purposes. The plant material would then be planted directly into the top layer of soil.
As for planting options, we have to take into consideration the increased exposure to sunlight, wind, rain, and whatever else Mother Nature whips up. Drought-tolerant plants, such as Delosperma Fire Wonder and Sedum Angelina, are good options, since these plantings will dry out faster than those in a traditional garden. Native plants are also good options as well as seasonal edibles.