Roof Gardens Under Construction

Roof Gardens Under Construction

Image from Chicago's Green Rooftops: A Guide to Rooftop Gardening

We would like to include green roof/roof garden options on the site at Luck Ave. and 5th St. In order to recommend a roof garden, we needed to understand the ins and outs of them. Because Chicago is currently the leader of green roofs in the United States with over 200 green roofs ( ), I began by taking a look at the Citys resources. The City has published Chicagos Green Rooftops: A Guide to Rooftop Gardening . This guide outlines the benefits and types of green roofs as well as the steps to creating one. The guide also uses City Hall as a case study.

Benefits of Green Roofs:

Green roofs have many environmental and social benefits. In addition to the benefits outlined by the City of Chicago (listed below), they can provide soothing gathering places outside of the normal city bustle. There have also been studies regarding the psychological effects of green space as opposed to gray space (buildings, pavement, etc.). In fact, one study showed that hospital patients who viewed trees from their windows as opposed to brick walls had shorter stays, took fewer painkillers, and had fewer negative evaluations by nurses (Wu, 2008).

  • Lower heating and cooling bills
  • Improve air quality
  • Combat urban heat island effect and lower air temperatures
  • plants reflect heat, provide shade, and cool air through evapotranspiration
  • Absorb rainfall and reduce urban runoff
  • Extend the useful life of the roof by protecting it from damage
  • Provide a pleasing aesthetic environment and a place for hobby gardeners
  • Two Types of Green Roofs

    Green roofing systems are divided into two categories: green roofs and roof gardens. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they do differ slightly.

    • Green Roof: the garden becomes the roof
    • Specially designed layers are installed to separate the garden from the structural roof. These layers provide drainage, supply nutrients, and add contours (See image at beginning of post).
    • Two Types
    • Extensive
    • Less weight
    • Shallow growing material
    • Heartier plants
    • Little maintenance
  • Intensive
    • Similar to traditional gardens on the ground
    • Deeper growing material
    • More intricate or delicate plantings
    • Roof Gardens Under Construction
    • More maintenance (irrigation/pruning)
    • Roof Garden
      • Planters or pots contain the plants. They are separate from the roof.
      • Lower in cost
      • Easier to maintain
      • Provide the benefits of reflectivity, shade, and evapotranspiration
      • Do no insulate or reduce runoff as effectively as green roofs
      • Steps

        When designing a green roof, the following steps should be taken to ensure success.

        1. Consider
        1. Roof condition
        2. Roofs structural capacity
        3. Roof access
      • Determine
        1. Weight of garden
        2. Cost
        3. Design
          1. Green roof system (see image at beginning of post)
          2. Irrigation
          3. Drainage
          4. Select plants and growing media: Native plants are beneficial because they are adapted to the local weather conditions. Therefore, they may require less irrigation. There is also less risk of invasive species issues. However, plants that flourish in poor soils and that are drought tolerant are best suited to roof top conditions.
          5. Maintenance
          6. Obtain permits
          7. For more in depth information visit USA Home and Garden .


            Wu, Jianguo (2008). Toward a landscape ecology of cities: Beyond buildings, trees, and urban forests. In Carreiro, M. M. Song, Y.-C. Wu, J. (eds.). Ecology, planning, and management of urban forests: International perspectives (pp. 10-28). New York, NY: Springer.

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