Gardening Australia — Fact Sheet Rooftop Garden

Gardening Australia - Fact Sheet Rooftop Garden

Recent Fact Sheets

Presenter: Meredith Kirton, 24/05/2008

Rooftop gardens provide a green oasis in the city. It’s a garden trend that has been taking off overseas, but Australia is only just getting a handle on it.

Daniel Baffsky is a landscape architect who is justifiably proud of his rooftop creation. What was once a car park has been transformed into “an island in the sky” dominated by plants and nature.

“We started with a concrete slab that was once the carpark. The slab was reinforced with upturned beams to seal it and ensure water did not penetrate into the apartments below.

“The space in between the beams was filled with foam core. This was to get a consistent soil depth of three hundred millimetres — that’s what was needed for most of the plants. The layers include filter fabric and then a soil layer, plants and mulch,” Daniel said.

Plant selection was about site conditions. In some areas of the rooftop it was important to preserve views for the neighbours. The plants also had to be wind and drought tolerant. “The soil depth meant using a palette of native grasses, succulents and some ground covers. The rest is about creating vibrancy, textures and movement,” he said.

Some of the plants used include:

•	Pennisetum ‘Nafray’ with its flower heads that are wispy and delicate when the wind blows

•	Dragon tree Dracaena draco, which is actually a giant succulent. This tree was the pivot point for the design of the lower level of the garden. It’s been planted in a raised garden and under planted with lawn. This makes it a special place to spend an afternoon with a book.

Daniel said the split levels of the garden were inherited as part of the site. “We were lucky because it leant itself to creating two different experiences. The upper level is like a promenade. It’s a bit more playful and we didn’t have the constraints of preserving views from the neighbouring buildings. It’s a different space with different opportunities. We wanted to make it a more passive area where people could sit on a bench. There are some great shade trees, like the tuckeroo Cupaniopsis anacardioides which loves exposed conditions along the coast and has a glossy green leaf. It’s a great tree to sit under,” Daniel said.

There are also some excellent ground covers that are hardy and have low water needs, which have been mass planted. Some of these include:

•	Licorice plant Helichrysum petiolare

•	Pig face Carpobrotus glaucescens

Gardening Australia - Fact Sheet Rooftop Garden

•	Senecio serpens

•	Sedums sp

Many of the materials used in the paths have come from a recycling tip. “We have used recycled crushed concrete and recycled terracotta tiles from rooftops. Up here, it’s not necessarily about accessing all areas of the landscape. It’s about a feeling that you get from any garden where you’re just observing,” Daniel said.

“The boardwalks have been elevated slightly so they sit a little above the garden. You get a sense of floating through the landscape, especially with the grasses. We wanted to create an ethereal quality, of the lightness of being on a rooftop,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the possibilities or rooftop gardening are very exciting. The technology exists and it’s not as complicated as it might seem. As we become more inclined towards multi-unit living then this approach is going to develop,” Daniel said.

You can watch this story on our website — www.abc.net.au/gardening/video

Information contained in this fact sheet is a summary of material included in the program. If further information is required, please contact your local nursery or garden centre.


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