If you are the resident of a large city, chances are you are familiar with the concept of the green roof – also referred to as a living roof. Some green roofs date back to the early 20th century, however, the rooftop gardens of the past these were generally considered eccentric playspaces of the rich – consider the roof garden built atop the Rockefeller Center in New York City during the 1930s. It was during the late 20th century that the ecological and economic benefits of green roofs became widely known and utilized by architects, city planners, and government officials.
Most people believe that this green trend is out of their price range – as these structures are mostly found on the roofs of buildings that can afford such luxury – hotels, public buildings, and event spaces. On average, professional-grade green roofs cost between $10 and $25 dollars per square foot of space.
This range is still pricy for all but the wealthiest of city-dwellers. However, there are ways you can attain some of the benefits of a green roof without having to install the complicated system for housing a living roof. Introducing the rooftop garden!
The DIY Rooftop Garden
A rooftop is an ideal place for a garden – it receives the most sunlight and is the first area of your building’s structure to collect water. Both of these factors are great advantages. You can design your rooftop garden to yield specific outcomes and suit your recreational needs – and you don’t need to install an expensive green roof system to see these benefits.
With your rooftop garden, you can enjoy the following benefits:
1. Urban Agriculture
You can tailor the space to produce food and spices, which will save your family some food costs. Lining your rooftop with large planting beds allows you to turn your rooftop into an orchard. Collect rainwater in large reservoirs to keep a supply of H2O on hand during long periods of drought.
Urban agriculture is becoming more prominent nation-wide. Most restauranteurs and environmentally conscious food retailers are stressing the need for local agriculture to stock their food stores. Rooftop farms are a much-needed reply to that demand. With your surplus food, you can sell at a local farmer’s market or donate food to those less fortunate than you.
2. Natural Aesthetics and an Escape From the City
Rooftop gardens are often an escape from the monochromatic greys of a densely-packed urban environment. They provide professional urbanites with a space to relax, decompress and combine the rooftop views with the beauty of nature.
Having the ability to remove yourself from the stresses of the city – at least temporarily – is important for maintaining your health. There are countless studies detailing the positive effects nature has on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. Having the ability to get a green moment to your self can help with boosting productivity, creativity, memory, and mindfulness while simultaneously reducing stress.
3. Having More Space for Hosting Parties and Events
A DIY greenspace on your roof is the perfect location for hosting small (or perhaps large) events. If your rooftop is a bare, tar-colored space, consider contacting a local decking contractor to design and construct a beautiful deck or awning for your rooftop space. This will make your rooftop more inviting and make it feel less like a bare roof being used for party space and more of a beautiful party space that happens to be on a roof.
This option is becoming more popular in cities like Philadelphia, where there is an abundance of rowhomes. Deck or no deck, gatherings on rooftops are more common than in recent decades – note the resurgence of the Instagram-friendly, trendy rooftop bar. Why not make the space safe and official?
Save on Energy Costs
Having a bunch of plants on your roof will help reduce a building’s heating and cooling costs. Through a process called evapotranspiration, plants absorb the heat in the surrounding air to evaporate off moisture from the soil. This, alongside natural shading, will reduce your home’s temperature in the summer. Likewise, the added insulation will hold in heat during the winter.
Boost the Value of Your Home
By adding a professionally designed green space to your rooftop, you are showing potential buyers and appraisers that your home is looking toward the future. Most professional appraisers are aware of and account for features that impact a home’s overall environmental footprint. A green rooftop space will be both a recreation benefit as well as an environmental one in the eyes of appraisers and buyers alike.
Start Your Rooftop Transformation
You now have the know-how to build that beautiful green space right in the middle of your urban neighborhood. You can have this underutilized space work for you, entertain you. feed you, cool you, warm you and save you money on your monthly energy bill.
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes on behalf of Superior Deck and Fence.