rooftop gardenOstensibly, I’d signed up for the Blogging for Books book review program to review knitting-related titles, but it’s been their gardening books that have snagged my interest (you can read my review of The Water-Saving Garden by Pam Penick here).

The Rooftop Growing Guide by Annie Novak was the next book I chose.

Our little house has a very (well, relatively speaking, for the neighborhood) large front yard, and a backyard that is more like a normal house’s side yard.  I’ve always liked the idea of growing our own produce and herbs, but don’t really have a place in the front yard (we’re pushing it in the neighborhood with our drought-tolerant native plants, let alone an edible landscape), and the backyard was always for our dog Rigel, and doesn’t get a lot of sun anyways.

We do have a deck that sits partially on our single-car garage. Part of the roof of the garage is visible and reachable from the deck, especially since our deck repair a few years ago included a gate for access to the garage roof (before that I was climbing back & forth over the railing).

We’ve set up Earthboxes that we now just use a big planters (rather than the Earthbox system) on the garage roof.  It’s not the most cosmetic set up. I’m really envious of the lovely redwood planters set up on a garage roof down the street (I KNOW they got the idea from us and just did it up nicer).

We also have some very nice pots with a mix of herbs and succulents on our deck itself.

So, with that intro, that’s why I was interested in The Rooftop Growing Guide.  Had I started out with this book, I’m sure our rooftop garden would be a bit more successful (though we have sage, thyme and mint year ’round, and volunteer tomato plants!).

The Rooftop Growing Guide discusses gardens ranging from huge, green roofs through more modest set ups like ours.  It includes assessing your particular situation (from sun exposure to microclimates to budget to zoning and more) then addresses the nitty gritty of soil, irrigation, plant choices, composting, pest management and more. A lot the information is addressed towards commercial use, but it applies to smaller-scale home gardeners as well.

It’s divided into 9 chapters (see below), and lavishly illustrated with photos of examples and diagrams and sketches as needed.


1 Why Rooftops?   9
2 Assessing Your Rooftop   15
3 Containers, Greenhouses, Green Roofs,
and Irrigation Methods   41
4 The Dirt on Rooftop Soil   87
5 Rooftop Seeds and Starts   125
6 Flowers, Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees   149
7 Planning Your Planting   167
8 Rooftop Pests and Problems   189
9 Taking Care of Business   229

The passion of the author, Annie Novak, is apparent. From her bio: Annie is the head farmer and cofounder of the nation’s first commercial green roof vegetable farm, the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm atop Broadway Stages in Brooklyn. She is the manager of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden, and founder and director of Growing Chefs, a field-to-fork food education program.

As noted above, the information covered is pretty extensive, and you can definitely use this book to create your own rooftop garden plan.  It’s a lot easier to consult this book then try to search different options online — trust me, I’ve been periodically doing so for years! If you’re thinking of tackling this sort of project, I do recommend this book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.