We believe everyone can grow an edible garden, no matter how small or urban your space may be. We were so inspired by the rooftop garden in our new catalog that we talked to our stylist, Amy Wilson, who’s also the Principal Designer at Organic Gardener NYC.
“One of the things that’s particularly fresh about a rooftop garden is the privacy and the sense that you don’t have to go to the park to have a little outdoor space,” says Amy. “It feels a little more personal – a bit of the outdoors that’s all your own. Urban environments and living spaces tend to be smaller, so people view even a tiny garden or terrace as a space that’s all their own.”
Here, Amy gives us her top tips for creating and maintaining a rooftop garden — what to plant, presentation ideas, and how to make it cozy.
Group planters in corners. That way you’ll maximize the impact of the greenery, Amy says. Also, “group planters in odd numbers, like 3, 5, and 7 — this always works better visually.”
Reach new heights. “Vary the height somewhat in pots and planters. Some plants are taller than others, or you can put a taller planter next to a shorter planter,” says Amy. She thinks of the design like a city skyline.
Be mindful of drainage. Make sure planters have good drainage; you don’t want the soil to extend all the way to the bottom. “In backyard planters you can add stones in the bottom, but for a rooftop you’ll want something lighter that adds less weight to the roof and is easier to lug up there,” says Amy. “We do a few inches of packing peanuts, then a layer of filter fabric (a basic landscape fabric that you can find at a hardware store), then the soil. This makes for better drainage and less runoff.”
Take advantage of the sun. Rooftops are some of the sunniest spaces — even sunnier than backyards. “You can plant tomatoes and cucumbers and other things that require full sun,” Amy says. Try herbs and lettuces, too, and talk to your local nursery to find out what grows well in your area. Amy’s tip: “Mint is perfect because you can put it in cocktails, which are best enjoyed on a roof anyway.”
Make it homey. “People start to think of their outdoor space as an extension of their home,” says Amy. “People can entertain and relax, even on a small rooftop. If you add a space heater or bring up a couple of heavy blankets, you can even use it year round.”
Take a seat. Unlike a public park, a rooftop garden should have a table and some seating. “It’s your own space to sit and read the morning paper with some coffee, or to invite friends over to have dinner.”
Be savvy. “A landscaped roof can even increase the value of your home, so it’s a smart idea to put money into the space,” Amy advises.