In the garden, my tulips are breaking from the earth. I can’t wait to see the first flower of the season. I’m counting down the days for the warmer season and fighting the urge to start seeds too early inside. 

I know I’m not the only one ready for spring. Every day we talk to folks who want to know the best way to build more space in their homes for gardening. But in homes without yards? Or those who have yards that are just too rough to till a plot? People are turning to a new trend for space: rooftop gardens. 

Popularized by Pinterest and HGTV, rooftop gardens give homeowners more opportunities for green space. 

Who needs a yard when your roof works just as well, right? 

It’s a gorgeous style- but not without risks. Not every roof is a good fit for the weight- and water drainage- that comes with an elevated garden. 

Here’s what to think about before transforming your roof into the ultimate garden paradise.

Your Roof vs. Garden Weight 

Your Pinterest board is filled with flowers in blossom, red and orange heirloom tomatoes, and garden boxes all in a line. 

But those tips on transplanting seeds and the best soil to use doesn’t cover the most important step if you’re gardening up top…

So let’s talk about your roof’s structural support. 

A new flat roof can support 20lbs per square foot. 

Sounds like a lot, right? 

But when paired with snow weight, an HVAC unit, and that relaxing hammock? 

Soil for plants can become too heavy fast. 

We love DIYers- but there are some things you should never attempt without professional help. 

A rooftop garden is one of those projects. 

We’ve talked in the past about the danger of ice dams. If ice from typical winter weather can overload your roof and cause premature failure…imagine what loading it down with topsoil can do!

Are rooftop gardens possible? Absolutely. 

And weight isn’t the only thing to consider….

#1. Is your roof 10 years or older? With age, your roof loses structural integrity. Yes, most roofs last 20 years or longer- but after 10 years, a roof that wasn’t built with the added weight of a garden in mind won’t be able to hold one. 

#2. Do you have an asphalt roof? Planter boxes can leave indentations in the material, allowing water in and compromising your roof. Asphalt roofing just isn’t a good fit for rooftop gardens.

#3. What’s your roof’s slope? You can build a rooftop garden on a curved roof, but it’s tricky and requires more support.

If you pass these tests and are approved by a professional, congratulations! 

But most roofs aren’t qualified for rooftop gardening. Does that mean you can’t have one?

The good news? There’s still hope! It’ll just take extra steps…

Adding Structural Support

I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a professional when pursuing a rooftop garden. 

The added weight means strain on your existing roof, and can lead to water damage or collapse. 

If your roof isn’t strong enough, a professional may be able to add structural support by adding support beams and redistributing the weight.

You can also design your rooftop garden to weigh less by:

  • Swapping bulky wood planter boxes for prefabricated fiberglass 
  • Choosing shorter boxes- they require less soil. 
  • Growing in lightweight soil 

Another thing to consider? An outdoor water source. You don’t want to haul buckets of water to the roof every day!

Also- you’ll also need to check your local ordinances for rail height requirements, rules on flammable materials, and other safety concerns. 

The truth is rooftop gardens are a LOT of work. 

Not sure your roof’s the right candidate for the project? Don’t worry- there’s other ways to incorporate green living without compromising your roof. 

Let’s take a look at three alternatives to a full rooftop garden. 

Carports for the Win!

Bigger isn’t always better- and this sentiment rings true with rooftop gardens. 

If your whole roof can’t bear the weight, ask your contractor about a carport rooftop garden! Carports are smaller structure, making it easier to add support. 

Plus, most carport roofs are flat and made of metal- making them the perfect spot for your planter boxes. 

I’m in love with the style! Just take a look at how much life this rooftop garden adds to the space:

Rooftop Garden above carport

Did you know an old carport can actually decrease your property value? But when altered with a rooftop garden, the value can increase up to 25%! 

Garage gardens are another great option. 

Most garage roofs are at level with the second story of your home. You’ll only need to install one exterior access point- instead of an entire rooftop entrance. 

Garage roof garden

Opting for a garage or carport rooftop garden? Don’t skip out on calling a contractor to check the structural integrity. Smaller surfaces are better candidates, but still need to be examined before moving ahead with the process. 

Looking for a trusted contractor for the job? We’re happy to help brighten your space while keeping your home safe. 

Green Roofs: Sustainable and Durable 

Green roof

Meet rooftop garden’s cousin- green roofs! 

Easy maintenance, needs less structural support, and energy efficient! 

A green roof is a waterproof membrane (usually made of rubber) installed on top of your existing roof. Once sealed from water damage, the membrane offers a safe way to grow plant life on your roof. 

Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like: 

Anatomy of Green Roof

One of my favorite things about green roofs? The membrane helps protect your roof from both water damage, and harsh temperatures. In some cases, green roofs have been known to double a roof’s life expectancy!

But the list of benefits goes on and on. The style is also known for: 

  • Decreasing your utility bills through added ventilation
  • Reducing outside noise
  • Improving your home’s overall air quality 

How do you know if a green roof is right for your home?

Although green roofs weigh less than a rooftop garden, you’ll still need a professional to examine your roof’s structural support. 

The good news? Most green roofs only weigh thirteen pounds per square foot- seven pounds under the standard weight limit. 

The Perfect Window for Plant Life

Garden window insert
Maybe you’ve decided putting plants on your roof just isn’t the best choice. 

That’s ok- but there are ways to add garden space to your home. Give your plant babies a space all their own with garden window inserts!

We’ve talked about these windows in the past, but let’s take a closer look at their design.

Manufactured by Simonton, garden windows are boxes which sit further out than standard windows. They’re a 3-dimensional insert, designed to increase your plant’s exposure to sunlight. 

The inserts offer shelf space for your favorite potted plants, but that’s not the only reason why I love them! 

These windows: 

  • Are designed with added insulation 
  • Open up spaces with additional light 
  • And are energy efficient

Garden window inserts can be installed as replacement windows or as a new build. While most folks put them above their sink in their kitchen, they look great brightening up laundry rooms and bathrooms, too. 

Besides aesthetics, studies show plants boost productivity, reduce stress, and increase indoor air quality. 

Ready to add a touch of green to your favorite space? We’d love to help. 

Let it Bloom- Martin Roofing And Siding Brings Green To You 

Spring is right around the corner! Now’s the time to start planning.

If you’re ready to increase your garden space, we’re here to help. 

Need your roof’s weight load assessed? Opting for a garden window instead? We’re always excited to help homeowners in Schuylkill Country fall in love with their space.

Give us a call at 570-345-0436 and start the conversation. We’d love to get you on our schedule this season.

Until then, happy (almost) spring!

Jenny Martin

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