A Low-Maintenance Garden Idea, Straight From the Netherlands

This city’s no-roof-unused policy got us thinking.
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wood shed covered in grass

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Is your roof living up to its full potential? The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands is proving there’s a lot more we can do with this overlooked space. The town’s central district recently announced a “no roof unused” policy, an initiative aimed at having every building covered in greenery or fitted with solar panels. Utrecht tested it out by installing plants at its 300-plus bus stops last year, and is planning on building a vertical forest tower covered in 10,000 plants by 2022. While blossoming flowers and fresh grass are a whole lot nicer to look at than asphalt, this movement isn’t just for aesthetics. Here’s what you need to know about the eco-friendly update: 

  1. Sedum, a plant with multicolored flowers that attracts birds, bees, and butterflies, is the key ingredient for green roofs. The spongy, CO2-absorbing succulents that make up its surface rarely need replacing, help capture particles of air pollution, provide cooling on hot days. and are super-resilient (the stuff can even survive harsh winters, one expert told The New York Times). 
  2. While a green roof delivers the most benefits, creating a lush living garden is no simple feat (permits alone can take more than a month to get approved, and the allover vegetation has to go on top of a waterproof membrane). Inger Staggs Yancey of Brooklyn Greenroof told Curbed that the process is like putting together a complicated puzzle. 
  3. If you’re not ready to commit to the real deal, you can still create a mini oasis by installing a partial garden, complete with potted trees, raised beds, and containers filled with herbs. Don’t have a roof to call your own? All you need are hanging planters and window boxes to turn a balcony into an urban jungle. 

See more stories like this: Fleetwood Mac and Sageing Make Up This Plant Lover’s Greenery RoutineHome Buyers Agree: This Is the Most Important Eco-Friendly FeatureThe First Step to Going Low Waste Is Surprisingly Simple

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.