The future is green with rooftop gardens
Rooftop gardens are a growing trend, especially overseas, where innovative green spaces – both vertical and horizontal – are almost ubiquitous and even, in some areas, a legal requirement for new developments. On a smaller scale, residential architects are seeing the virtues of going green, using rooftop planting to soften hard edges, whether it’s foliage draped becomingly over the edge of the building or completely covering a garage or other secondary structure to improve the view from above.
Benefits of a green roof
Where planning permission can be achieved, a residential rooftop garden can expand the opportunities for outdoor living – no small advantage in the space-strapped inner suburbs. The benefits for commercial properties are even greater, providing staff with a serene escape to release stress, ultimately improving their mental health, physical health and productivity.
Even where the rooftop garden is nothing more than a planting opportunity, the benefits are countless. More greenery will have a positive impact on air quality and the greater environment – every little bit counts. Rooftop plantings utilise rainwater, which would otherwise wash straight down the drain; they’re insulating, reducing the need for air-conditioning; they’re noise absorbing; and even wildlife attracting!
What to plant
If the building will support a full-scale garden – one you can sit in – the aim will be to, first, create a feeling of seclusion, and secondly, to provide protection from the brutal Aussie sun. How this is achieved varies site by site and will depend on what the structure (and the budget) can support.
The choice of plants on this rooftop garden will be dependent on soil depth, calculated on the weight the roof structure can support, and on climate conditions – even if the roof is irrigated, plants will need to be able to bear the driest conditions, caused by blasting winds and scorching sun. To turn this harsh environment into a thing of beauty, we particularly love to use ornamental grasses, which can grow well in tough conditions and shallow soil, and will cover the space in a sea of stems that will ripple becomingly in the breeze.