8 Unbeatable Benefits of Rooftop Gardens For Your New Home

8 Unbeatable Benefits of Rooftop Gardens

8 Unbeatable Benefits of Rooftop Gardens For Your New Home

8 Unbeatable Benefits of Rooftop Gardens For Your New Home

From celebrities like Beyonce, who has embraced rooftop gardens in her New Orleans mansion, to the trendiest spots in Los Angeles, rooftop gardens have become the ultimate new addition people are choosing to add to countless homes, hotels, and restaurants—and for good reason. 

Rooftop gardens have transformed major cities like Singapore—which has the highest number of rooftop gardens in the world— New York, and now Los Angeles. Areas of Los Angeles like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Downtown LA have tons of trendy rooftop gardens open to the public.

Whether you’d like to stroll through a picturesque garden or eat a fresh burrata salad made of ingredients grown on the same rooftop you’re sitting at, rooftop gardens have become a symbol of the fusion of nature and urban living, bringing an oasis of rare greenery to bustling cities.

And, with Los Angeles projected to grow by 3.5 million people by 2050, it must learn how to take advantage of vertical greenery instead of horizontal greenery. The more people move in, the more housing will need to be built, which will, unfortunately, take away from the current green spaces located around the city. So, rooftop gardens can be the perfect way to add dashes of green around Los Angeles.

Rooftop Garden Decks

The History of Rooftop Gardens

But when did rooftop gardens first pop up? And for what reasons?

The first rooftop gardens were reported to be located on the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia between 4,000 and 600 BC, used to create cooler climates in a region plagued by heat.

The most famous of the time was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a famous painting that depicted a sloping series of trees, plants, and vines on a rooftop 75 feet above ground. Later, Italians, Germans, and Russians hopped on the bandwagon and started designing intricate rooftop gardens for aesthetic purposes.

In 1463, Pope Pius II was one of the first people recorded to commission a rooftop garden. Centuries later, major urban cities have continued the tradition for a range of reasons. Researchers today continue to study the diverse benefits rooftop gardens can offer us. 

8 Unbeatable Benefits of Rooftop Gardens

The environmental, economic, and social benefits that rooftop gardens offer major cities like Los Angeles that don’t have the space for extensive green areas make the decision to add one not only desirable but also pivotal in shaping a greener, more sustainable future. 

1. Improve air quality

According to the American Lung Association’s 2023 State of the Air report, Los Angeles and Long Beach residents breathe in the worst air in the nation, with the region ranking as the nation’s most polluted ozone area in 23 out of the 24 years the Lung Association has produced the report.

Because Los Angeles has some of the worst air quality in the nation, rooftop gardens have been and can continue to be used as a pivotal solution to improving Los Angeles’ air quality. By capturing harmful gasses and matter in the air, plants can help improve air quality. 

2. More energy efficient

Covering rooftops with gardens can insulate heat and cold, which means that homeowners and business owners can spend less money on heat, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, according to the City of Los Angeles Environmental Affairs Department.

In fact, rooftop gardens can lower the temperature of the surrounding geographic area by nearly nine degrees in the summer months. Plus, using less energy doesn’t only pose a positive economic impact for the owner; it also poses a positive environmental impact for the region the garden is located in.

The reduction in energy consumption directly translates to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which is a win for the environment.

A 2018 study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the 700,000 square feet of green roofs installed in Kansas City between 1999 and 2020 would result in avoided emissions of 734 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 384 pounds of nitrogen dioxide, and 269 tons of carbon dioxide in 2020!

3. Nice aesthetic

Rooftop Decks

Whether you are working from home, reading a good book, or just want some fresh air, a rooftop garden can be the perfect place to destress. The greenery can mix well with wood tones to create a beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing rooftop perfect for entertaining.

Wood decking, made of tropical hardwoods like ipe, cumaru, jatoba, garapa, and tigerwood can be the perfect addition to a rooftop garden’s timeless look. With their rich, timeless look, these tropical woods will not only enhance the look of your rooftop garden, but will also ensure longevity, even in long-term exposure to the sun and other weather conditions.

After about 6 months of exposure to the sun, the color of the wood can change to a silver color, but with ipe oil maintenance, you can bring the deck back to its original color. The tropical hardwoods can also be used for wall cladding, which allows for a seamless integration of greenery and plants into the cladding design.

If you’re looking for a wood alternative, Brazilian Lumber Los Angeles is an authorized distributor of Norx and TimberTech, so you can also buy composite cladding that has a 30-year warranty, stays cool in the heat, and is weather-resistant.

And, because everyone has different opinions about how you would like your rooftop gardens to look, Brazilian Lumber Los Angeles offers customization with whichever dimensions, colors, and profiles fit your exact needs. 

4. Effective use of rainwater

Los Angeles is unfortunately prone to flooding because as more of the city is developed, more concrete and asphalt are used to build more commercial and residential spaces. Both of these materials can also exacerbate flooding by preventing rainwater from seeping into the ground, leading to increased runoff and a higher risk of urban flooding.

But, rooftop gardens can absorb rainfall, which ultimately can reduce these risks. By their very nature, rooftop gardens can act as natural sponges that retain moisture. This not only contributes to the beautiful green colors of the garden, but also plays a crucial role in sustainable water management. 

5. Urban Heat Island Effect control

Ever heard of the Urban Heat Island Effect? It is a phenomenon where urban areas experience higher temperatures than rural areas because structures like buildings and roads (which are in higher quantities in urban areas) absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat at higher rates than natural landscapes, such as bodies of water and forests.

This effect costs major cities like Los Angeles a lot of money in increased energy usage. In the year 2000, the Urban Heat Island Effect cost Los Angeles County $100 million in energy. Urban areas can work to lower the Urban Heat Island Effect by incorporating more green spaces that will absorb the sun’s heat instead of buildings and roads.

Rooftop gardens are the perfect way to add more plants to absorb heat. Wood decking can also be used to mitigate the effect depending on which type of wood is used. For example, tropical hardwoods like ipe, cumaru, jatoba, garapa, and tigerwood are all natural and don’t absorb heat. Adding a tropical hardwood deck to your rooftop garden can be a great way to double down on lowering the Urban Heat Island Effect.

6. Urban agriculture

Food deserts are an unfortunate reality that affects many individuals in both sprawling urban centers and more remote rural landscapes. A food desert is a geographic area that has limited access to healthy, affordable, and nutritious food options. This lack of access ultimately contributes to higher rates of health disparities and illnesses.

A Harvard study found that healthier foods are more expensive because of policy decisions made by large corporations, which favor sales of highly processed foods. But, rooftop gardens can help fix this unfortunate reality. Rooftop gardens can democratize healthy, affordable food products for all individuals, no matter their geographic or economic circumstances.

For example, a single rooftop garden in Calgary, Canada, is projected to produce nearly 1,000 pounds of vegetables, fruits, and herbs each summer, all of which will be donated to families in need.

To maximize the efficacy of these gardens, they can be strategically built in buildings that have large rooftop spaces, particularly within communities dealing with food insecurity. Schools and apartment buildings can be the perfect places to utilize rooftop gardens and diminish the effect food deserts have on certain communities.

Currently, 20% of Los Angeles residents suffer from food insecurity, so rooftop gardens can truly alleviate this issue. Empowered by the capacity to cultivate their own produce, these communities and individuals can use rooftop gardens to both cultivate a healthier livelihood and supplement their income by selling this produce in local markets.

7. Increase in property value

While the environmental and social benefits of rooftop gardens are exceptionally promising, the benefits don’t stop there. Rooftop gardens are valuable amenities that can enhance the value of buildings and houses. By building a rooftop garden, you, as the investor, are creating additional space for potential buyers to benefit from, therefore increasing your property’s value.

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development backed up this claim that rooftop gardens can create a major hike in property value, with a promising statistic. The study found that recreational rooftop gardens increased property values by 11% on average. And, by adding a luxury modern deck to your rooftop garden, you can further increase your property’s value to potential buyers.

8. Creation of additional natural habitat for animals

The planet’s population keeps growing and growing, which means that urbanization is inevitable. Because of this, animals are losing their natural habitats as they become replaced by giant buildings. In urban jungles like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, rooftop gardens can become a safe haven and a place to thrive for animals, such as insects and birds.

In comparison to conventional roofs, rooftop gardens can attract a larger variety of birds and insects because of the greenery, a study conducted by the Department of Biological Sciences at Fordham University found. Singapore provides us with a beautiful example of the ecological benefit of rooftop gardens.

In 2017, Singapore’s green roofs supported 53 species of birds and 57 species of butterflies, with 12 species of each considered rare, a study by the Ecological Society of America found. And while rooftop gardens will thrive with a more diverse animal population, wood decking and wall cladding incorporated into the garden will not deteriorate from the insects with the right wood materials used.

For instance, tropical hardwoods, composite decking, and thermally-modified woods—all of which are available at Brazilian Lumber Los Angeles—are insect-resistant, so they will not deteriorate over time. 

What you need to know before getting started

Although everyone loves a simple DIY, creating a safe, successful, and thriving green space on the roof of a building demands careful planning and expertise. First, a structural engineer needs to be involved in the process of determining load capability.

Although it is simpler to design a rooftop garden and the building it will be connected to at the same time, rooftop gardens can be installed on any building if it can handle the load. A mechanical engineer can also provide you with information about electrical and drainage needs.

The City of Los Angeles highlights the benefits of green roofs in a 2006 resource guide, which also contains important information regarding what permits and approvals are needed in order to build a rooftop garden.  


Rooftop Garden Decks

As the demand for rooftop gardens continues to grow, exploring sustainable and aesthetically pleasing options can help you reap the economic, social, and environmental benefits to the fullest extent.

Carefully selecting complimenting materials, such as tropical hardwood decking and cladding, can help you make your rooftop garden one that excites you, calms you, and ultimately becomes a sanctuary for you in the midst of America’s urban landscapes.