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Rooftop Becomes a Lush Oasis

Making the Most of a 13 x 13-ft. Garden

Karen Flynn doesn't have much of a yard at her home in Roxbury, Mass. But that hasn't stopped her from growing a lush and productive garden 20 feet above ground level.

In her 13-by-13-foot rooftop garden, Flynn grows bushels of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and bush beans, plus a dozen varieties of herbs and edible flowers. How? With self-watering planters and windowboxes, plus plenty of trellises and plant supports to encourage vertical growth and free up precious space.

"With these products, I can fit so much in so little space, and I don't have to worry about watering all of the time," she said.

Flynn has been an avid gardener for decades, but only recently has she focused so much on her rooftop. She's found it to be both convenient and a way to build an ideal growing environment. The plants are in the full sun all day long because they aren't shaded by trees. Self-watering planters ensure that the plants don't dry out. Few weed seeds blow up to the rooftop, so keeping the plants weed-free is easy. And she can move the containers anytime she wants, creating a brand new look. Perhaps best of all, she said, is that working with the plants and the soil in containers is more comfortable than it was in a backyard garden. "The containers bring the plants higher so I can sit on a chair while I work," she said. Flynn loves to sit on her roof, surrounded by her lush plants. Not only does her garden provide months of vegetables, it also provides her with a green oasis within the city. Gazing balls and wind chimes add atmosphere.

"I've always gardened, and I always will," Flynn says. "Wherever the space is."

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Last updated: 10/24/15