Ask the ex­perts Green roof, shelv­ing, clean­ing and more

We’d like to cre­ate a gar­den on our shed roof. Which plants should we choose, and how would we care for them?

House Beautiful (UK) - - Contents -

CARO­LINE TIL­STON SAYS

In­stalling a green roof is a won­der­ful way to bring ex­tra plant­ing space and pro­vide a wildlife habi­tat. When you’re de­cid­ing what to grow, it helps to think of the roof area as a very large and very shal­low con­tainer – so you need plants with equally shal­low roots and the abil­ity to with­stand some dry pe­ri­ods. Alpines such as se­dums and thrift are ideal for this as they’ve de­vel­oped to sur­vive by cling­ing onto hill­sides in lit­tle pock­ets of soil.

An­other good op­tion is to try wild­flow­ers that would colonise in­fer­tile, rocky soils. Look for wild­flower seed mixes in­tended for green roofs; these will in­clude cowslips, daisies and vetches. Fi­nally you could just let na­ture take its course – pro­vide a grow­ing medium and just wait and see what comes. The poor con­di­tions should de­ter big weeds such as net­tles, and en­cour­age more del­i­cate weeds and wild­flow­ers that are na­tive to your area.

With all of these, the essen­tial main­te­nance is­sue will be to make sure your roof gar­den doesn’t dry out com­pletely in the sum­mer, es­pe­cially in the first year or so while it’s get­ting estab­lished. And weed­ing can be a real is­sue given its po­si­tion – try­ing to pull them off the roof from be­tween the alpines can be a bit of a tricky job, but get a hoe with an ex­tra-long han­dle and that should make things eas­ier.

Alpine plants such as se­dums and thrift grow well on roofs

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