Rooftop Gardens Popularity Explodes

Rooftop Gardens Popularity Explodes

High above the canopy of Manhattan’s concrete jungle, lies a garden oasis. A flowering rose bush is surrounded by lilies and lavender. Succulents and cactus plants flourish in the shadow of a small maple tree.

Rooftop meadows are far from the norm in New York City. But thats exactly what homeowner David Puchkoff has created on the roof of his West Village apartment.

[David Puchkoff, Owner]:
“It’s an insulation issue. There’s less heat loss in the winter and you retain your cool that you have from your air conditioning in the summer and so all in all it’s a win win situation. And aside from that, it’s just a delight to look at.”

Puchkoff lives with his wife and daughter on the top floor of a six-story building. He says he was inspired to create a porch and garden after visiting friends, interstate.

He went to an architect, then an engineer. After some calculations to determine the amount of weight the building structure could handle, Puchkoff went to work.

After sealing the roof, he installed a four-layer system of membranes. Its designed to retain water, protect the roof from root growth and support drip lines to water the young plants.

Then came the soil and finally, the plants, which is where Ed Snodgrass came in.

[Ed Snodgrass, Green Roof Consultant]:
“I think his project is fantastic.”

Snodgrass is internationally recognized as an expert in green roof systems. His particular specialty is the flora itself.

He travels all over the world advising on the types of plants that best suit particular conditions. He says the global trend toward going green has seen explosive growth in the business of roof gardens.

[Ed Snodgrass, Green Roof Consultant]:
“There’s not a lot of opportunity in cities to add vegetation. Streets, sidewalks, walls, all those are out of the questions and rooftop remains the obvious place to revegetate and now, I think once the technology and the techniques have caught on, now it’s become more and more doable and affordable”.

Ed says compared to Europe, the United States has some catching up to do when it comes to roof garden technology. Most of his business is focused on commercial property. He points to former client David Puchkoff’s garden in the sky as an example of what’s also possible for homeowners.

Puchkoff says the benefits of a green roof are many.

[David Buchkoff, Owner]:
“We get morning doves, we get woodpeckers, we’ve got bees. There’s life that’s happening now because of this and all that just makes it more delightful.”

The meadow is “low maintenance,” but not “no maintenance.”

[David Buchkoff, Owner]:
“I do have to weed. I’m not a gardener, but I am a weeder and I’m a pretty good weeder now. It just takes me away from everything to get down onto my hands and knees and look around and see which one of these little plants is one that belongs here is a succulent and which one I don’t want to have overrun the rest of the garden and make my decisions. So all in all I don’t see anything that’s a problem with this. I think everyone should have a green roof.”

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