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Roof gardens

Today I was looking at the roof at the back of the house. The roof is sloped at about 15 degrees, about 12 feet wide and about 30 feet long and covered in tiles. I was originally looking at putting some large pots up there for plants but then I had a thought.

I knew a house where the owner had laid a flower garden on his patio roof for the wildlife. Basically, a thin layer of soil about two inches thick with grass, flowers, trays to catch water and some wildlife houses. He built his using pond lining and some edging. A large plant tray in effect. He says it weighs several tons but as it is spread across the roof and several structural walls if is safe. The main issue was it dried out in the summer and he had to water it from the bathroom. The new owner had it removed and from what I can see it looks like the original tiles are still there.

Now, when the extension here was being built the builders used that roof to store bricks, tiles and the cement mixer so I know it can take a heavy load. I could certainly replicate the garden in that house but I don’t like flowers. I want things to eat. Flowers seem to grow in about 2cm of soil where vegetables take a lot more. The problem is doubling the thickness doubles the weight and 4 inches of soil is still not enough to grow most vegetables and certainly not the ones I would be looking at.

Of course I could use it for herbs, garden peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. Things that don’t require depth but grow up. Only concern then is wind. It looks awfully exposed. I could also use the space for bees, something I am investigating at the moment, an old friend is an apiarist and he is moving to smaller accommodation and so giving up his bees this year. Seems he will have some equipment he does not want. He tells me there is a lot of new EU rules lately, no surprise there, the EU loves paperwork, and one reason he is giving up.

First things first though. When the weather gets better I’m going to go up and check the roof, reinforce some spots, if necessary and then start making something of it. Yet, another project for the home. I think I will document this one.

I am concerned about the slope though. I am considering a metal frame to make it level and then making a walkway with raised gardens in there. I can then put wind barriers up, frames and with the deep soil any of the vegetables I want. As it is at the back it is fairly well hidden except for the surrounding neighbours and the local police in the helicopters who may think I’m growing funny baccy.

What do you think? Anyone got any ideas of this? Any experience of something similar? If this works out I have a garage roof that looks empty as well.

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