Gardens on Tucson's rooftops - Tucson News Now

Gardens on Tucson's rooftops

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County is makings some changes to its zoning codes to make it more modern and up to date.

"There are some parts of it that are old and antiquated," says Chris Boirier, an assistant planner with the county. "We're taking a fresh look at it."

While the most noticeable updates will come from changes to language about cisterns, green buildings and water harvesting, there will be some talk about vegetated rooftops.

"We are promoting that you can put vegetation on you rooftop," he says.

The county believes doing so will save energy and water and increase the value of homes.

Even though, no one is rushing to do so right now, it's uncertain what the future will be.

We want to "identify barriers that get in the way of certain new ideas."

There were no codes that prevented it in the first place but there are things in the code which might make it harder to do or make it impossible.

Such as, there are height restrictions in some areas. Adding a rooftop garden may violate that restriction. Under the new code text, it will not.

Boirier says the county will "take those barriers out and let people do what they want to do."

The thought is generally limited to commercial properties but he feels it can work in residential as well.

There is one home in Pima County which built a vegetated rooftop nearly ten years ago.

The architect was Bil Taylor, who is also a builder.

He says the house is at the bottom of a hill in the Lower Foothills and when motorists would come over the hill, they'd see a conventional rooftop.

"I wondered out loud, could we do something?" he says.

After the convicting the owner, "it was the first time for all of us and we made it up as we went along."

Now, ten years later he says there are some things he would do differently with the soil and irrigation.

And he's not so sure he'd advise people to do it in all case.

"There are special cases where it would work but, but broad brush, I don't think so," he says. "It costs money."

And there's the constant vigilance that it takes to keep up and maintain the roof.

Taylor visited the home recently and the owner of the home hasn't kept it up and it shows signs of neglect. 

"It takes a lot of work," he says.

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