Best Plants For London Rooftops

Sep 22, 2014 |

Just a few decades ago, the major cities of the world were growing quick, and at the expense of parks, gardens and green areas. Places to relax in among the hustle and bustle of everyday were becoming limited, and people seeking some respite began to look to their own roof-tops as viable retreats. Nowadays, it is a fairly common sight to see well tended and busy hide-away gardens occupying many roof tops across the major cities of the world. If you have ever flown in on an airplane to the likes of Edinburgh or London in the United Kingdom, you will, on your descent, be able to view hundreds of roof top gardens and green spaces on the roofs of buildings.

Many business companies have re-landscaped the roof of their complex to create a relaxing and restful place for their employees to relax on breaks, or even an outside place to have meetings. Other people simply use their roof space to cultivate a peaceful and private place they can relax after work. You may be surprised at how well designed and thought out some of the roof top garden are, and some of them look very inviting indeed, like an oasis in the desert. In many cases, the gardens are so high from the road, that the noise of traffic is non-existent.

What Are The Best Plants For Rooftops In London?

To be frank, any flower or plant you like in a normal garden can be grown on a rooftop garden. Of course, you may need to do some more preparation, for example, moving soil up from below, and none of the natural elements of a normal garden will be available on a rooftop. However, these are small issues, and anyone keen enough to design and cultivate a rooftop garden will be unencumbered by such trivial issues. For such people, half the fun lies in the challenge.

You may need to plan carefully the places you would like to have flowers and plants, and design it so you have sufficient space for the soil to allow the roots to thrive, and you may need to consider flowers that can thrive in small places, or plants that can grow vertically. Many people like to have a stylish table and chair set, so they can enjoy refreshments as they relax. These rooftop gardens have been carefully designed to maximize the space, while still creating beauty and privacy, and some of the results are nothing short of spectacular. Some advice for a rooftop can include:

  • Avoid big leafed plants and flowers, as their extra size can affect them more in the sharper winds that can hit rooftops
  • Go for smaller, silver colored grasses like lavender or Perovskia
  • Arrange plants like Hollyhocks in various sizes, to create spaces
  • Water features are usually not permitted, as leaking into the roof is all too common
  • Call in a structural engineer if you are unsure, as the additional weight of plant and humans may be heavier than you think.

And some specific plants for rooftop gardens can include:

  • Blue Star Juniper – reaches about three feet tall, and is a silvery-green color, with thin, slender like needles. Attractive and fits in to a garden well.
  • ‘Fanal’ Astilbe – This plant is great for shadier sections of the rooftop, and has a pleasing red flower, which blooms in mid July. It can reach around a foot and a half in height and is good for borders, or for visual separation.
  • Lavender– This plant is much loved for its powerful and pleasing scent, and is native to the Mediterranean, so it copes with the wind and sun intensities on a rooftop. Adds nice and subtle colour to the garden, as well as its scent.
  • Daylily – Quite a hardy species of plant, the Daylily offers permanent bloom, adding year round color and brightness to the rooftop. The foliage reaches about two feet, and the plant comes in many aesthetically pleasing colours.
  • Lamb’s Ears – This soft leaved border plant is ideal for low walls and border areas. The pleasing silver-green foliage mixes well among other plants, and may need cutting back to control, so it may be a good idea to plant this one in a container.
  • Climbing Hydrangea – An excellent addition to a rooftop garden, as it grows vertically, and offers a stunning transformation after the summer months, producing golden yellow leafs that add beauty to its surroundings. Easy to maintain, which is necessary as can grow to 60 metres in height.
  • Blue Fescue – This hardy and popular grass is used in edging or borders, and has a pleasing colour. Mixes well visually with other plants, such as the Blue Star Juniper, and reaches about ten inches in height. Can be used in a container with no problems.
  • Maidengrass – This somewhat spectacular white and feathery grass can reach seven feet tall, and is ideal for creating shade or space. The plant thrives in sunnier spots of the garden, and adds an exotic look to its surroundings.

Constructing a Rooftop Garden Can Be Expensive

Many people happily pay thousands of pounds to have their rooftop assessed by a qualified structural engineer, then designed and landscaped by other suitable qualified people. These people tend to see their gardens not only as a private and relaxing extension to their homes, as well as something they can get use out of, but also as long term investments, as apartments in London with a rooftop garden inevitably reach a higher price than those without. If you happen to purchase a home that has the makings of a rooftop garden, or an established garden, it makes the job a little easier, and if you can get confirmation from the previous owner that they have had the roof assessed for structural integrity, all the better, as this may save you quite a bit of money.

Leave on Rooftop

How you don’t want your roof to look…

The other problem is the physical problem of laboring soil, containers and other paraphernalia up to the roof. This may be a messy and complicated job, but most people will find inventive and novel ways of achieving their ends, as they appreciate the importance of having a garden as part of their home. Certain outlets offer a delivery service, and it is within the bounds of reasonability to have them deliver to your rooftop, for example. Owning the rooftop garden far outweighs any slight difficulties these people and encounter, and it is as a result of their vision and endeavor that the rooftops of London, and other major cities around the world, are turning into private and beautiful relaxing sanctuaries far above ground level.

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