Do you live in an urban environment, but wish you had a garden? Why not consider a roof garden? This is not exactly a new idea. After all, the Mesopotamians are known to have planted trees and shrubs on elevated terraces over 2,000 years ago!
Roof gardens can come in many different styles. A simple one might include a small number of plants grown in containers or flowers grown in hanging pots. A more complex roof garden might actually involve preparing the roof to receive soil that can support direct planting.
Roof garden, Southern California.
My office in Oakland looks down on the Kaiser Center Roof Garden, a 3.5 acre roof garden on top of the five-story parking structure on 21st Street and Webster. The entire roof is covered in manicured lawns, walking paths, shrubs, and trees. There’s even a shallow reflecting pool, with fountains, that currently plays host to three Canada geese that happened to drop in (literally). There’s a short wooden bridge that spans the pool and the bridge’s railings hold planter boxes that are bursting with flowers. Whoever designed the garden left no stone unturned, so to speak.
Kaiser Center Roof Garden, Oakland.
Some of the benefits of a roof garden are obvious. A roof garden can:
- provide a space that you may not otherwise have access to, for growing plants and flowers, vegetables, and even fruit.
- turn a neglected space into an attractive environment that people want to experience and enjoy.
- be a source of nutritious food.
- be a source of beauty.
- incorporate some nature into your urban setting (there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a roof garden in the country, but there are probably better alternatives!).
Some benefits of a roof garden may be less obvious (at least to me). A roof garden can:
- reduce the use of building utilities by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise heat the building.
- reduce the outside temperature.
- increase the amount of oxygen in the air.
- reduce rain runoff.
- reduce noise levels.
So, if you live in the city or just have a small yard and you want to expand your garden, consider creating or partnering with others to create a roof garden. Not only will you and others enjoy it, but you’ll be improving the community, too.
Roof garden in Singapore.
Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.
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