Get Your Green On With Rooftop Gardening

Just because you live in an apartment or a small house without a backyard doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to green.

Master gardener William Moss offered plenty of tips on "The Early Show" Wednesday to help you grow plants anywhere -- particularly rooftops -- whether or not you have a green thumb.

Moss said the main difference between a backyard garden and rooftop garden is that plants, when kept on a roof, will be in containers.

To help your plants grow well in containers, Moss suggested using a good potting mix with some compost.

And to make sure your plants don't get weighed down and fall, Moss told "Early Show" weather anchor and features reporter Dave Price, you should purchase lightweight ornamental containers.

But what do you put in the pot first?

Moss suggested a product called Better-Than-Rocks, which he said provides good drainage for plants and saves a lot of weight. Then you add your potting mix and plants.

Moss added plants have a variety of benefits for your home and the surrounding area. He said plants can save an average of 15 percent on energy costs by cooling your indoor areas, as well as help with drainage and filtering the air.

But what plants should you grow on your roof, balcony or patio?

Moss said plants that grow best are from scrubland, screes, mountainsides, and deserts. Drought-tolerant plants, Moss said, have foliage that's hairy, waxy, hard, small, thin, and/or leathery.

Moss also recommended these pointers for would-be gardeners:

Ten Steps to a Happy Rooftop Container Garden
1. Check with developer, condo board, superintendent, and/or inspector to find out if the roof is solid enough to support a garden
2. Choose a spot with good light and, if possible, some protection from the worst wind exposure. Remember: Containers should be placed on decking, never directly on the roofing.
3. Select lightweight, ornamental containers (like Southern Patio fiberglast pots) at least 12 inches in diameter
4. Pick tough plants suitable for your area. The Top 10 Container Plants list is a good place to start.
5. Add Better-Than-Rocks or other bottom filler for drainage and root growth
6. Use a potting mix or make your own with 2 parts compost, one part peat moss, and one part sand
7. Plant or sow seeds in pots
8. Water regularly
9. Keep the rooftop drain free of debris and dirt, so that water always drains easily
10. Relax and enjoy the flowers and fruits

Rooftop Gardening Dos and Don'ts

• Consult with green roofing companies if you want your entire rooftop landscaped
• Select beautiful, productive, tough plants
• Buy ornamental containers like Southern Patio composite pots
• Water often, unless all your plants are low maintenance/drought tolerant
• Fertilizer regularly for annuals and veggies. Follow directions
• Use lightweight, well drained potting mix with a filler on the bottom, like Better-Than-Rocks
• Place in location where the wind will not cause severe damage
• Don't choose plants solely based on looks
• Don't buy ugly or unattractive containers
• Don't use garden soil. It is not suitable for containers.
• Don't overfertilize it is bad for the plants and the environment
• Don't place in a wind tunnel or other severely exposed location
• Don't place containers directly on the roofing, instead sit containers on some form of decking.

For more on gardening with William Moss, check out these articles:
Kitchen gardening
Rooftop gardening
Garden containers
About the heat island effect
Summer watering strategies