Beautifying with Rooftop and Community Gardens Urban Greening

New York City is known for many things beautiful—architecture, a rainbow of diverse cultures, and its fabulous skyline, but let's face it, outside of Central and Prospect Parks, most people aren't aware of how much park land actually exists in the city.

Well, how green is New York City and its five boroughs? You might be surprised to find out that, according to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, there are more than 1,700 parks citywide encompassing around 28,000 acres. Park properties range from swimming pools and skating rinks to gardens, nature trails, wetlands and woodlands.

And adding to this mix, some co-op and condo buildings have been working hard to integrate some greenery into the overall rather monochromatic exterior by converting unused areas such as rooftops, courtyards, alleyways and empty lots into strikingly lush community gardens.

There are already many rooftop gardens on commercial buildings (Rockefeller Center, for one) and community gardens throughout the city, including one at 6th Street and Avenue B in the East Village, and the West Side Community Garden on West 89th Street.

Residents are reaping the environmental, cultural, social and psychological benefits of these gardens. "Studies show that being close to plants in general will elevate moods and increase productivity," says Julie Bawden Davis, author of Indoor Gardening the Organic Way. "Plants also give us oxygen, and they are the only thing on the planet that filter and get rid of CO2. Cities are also trying to lower the temperature and put in green spaces. Plus, the prettier the environment, the more the people would want to live there."


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  • I am a volunteer at a local children's hospital in Miami, Florida. My friend, Lisa and I work on the oncology floor. Each of the children's room have windows. Their views however, leave much to be desired, as it is the rooftop of the hospital. Nine times out of ten, curtains are drawn and the only distraction the kids have is either the tv or a family member/volunteer. We have been entertaining the idea of creating a rooftop garden and thus creating an outlet for these children other than their dark and boring rooms. We know nothing about horticulture, much less virtual maintenance-free rooftop gardens. It would be so helpful to have someone who is experienced give us advice as to where to begin. ANY ideas would be appreciated. Thank you for your time. Cristina E.
  • this helped me with my science project! i go to iroquoise! thanks so much!
  • Visit and maybe you can network folks through that website. There is a search feature and some informative links to follow. Also know that rooftop gardening does not have to be elaborate. Simple containers or even baby wading pools can be used to grow plants, flowers and vegetables. The kids would love to just see green.