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Green roofs provide beauty and potential savings in Saskatoon

Julie Barnes and her husband, Josh look up every day to see how their garden is doing. This summer, the couple decided a rooftop garden would be a great addition to their garage.

Julie and Josh Barnes have turned their garage roof into a thriving garden

Julie Barnes, along with green roof consultant Michael Molaro, stand on top of Barnes' rooftop garage garden. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

Julie and Josh Barnes look up every day to see how their garden is doing. This summer, the couple decided a rooftop garden would be a great addition to the garage they were building.

Sitting amongst pasture sage at the south end of the garden, Julie Barnes said it was a television show that inspired her to do this.

"I watch a show called Grand Designs, which is based in the U.K., and quite a bit of the homes over there have green roofs on them."

Pasture sage is one of the many plants in Barnes' rooftop garden. (Eric Anderson/CBC )

The thought of looking down from her master bedroom to see a rooftop garden excited Barnes. After doing a quick online search, she came across Michael Molaro.

Molaro runs Higher Groundwork Horticulture in Saskatoon and helped install the garden.

"This was my first real commercial project," he said while inspecting his work. "It has been a really good pilot. I could see the excitement and commitment from Julie, and it's turned out very well so far."

Barnes and Molaro transplanted 700 plants to the roof of the garage. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

There are more than 700 plants ranging from prairie grasses and perennials to various types of sedum in the garden.

The roof — covered in soil ranging from three to eight inches in depth — slopes towards the house, allowing Barnes to see it from her kitchen.

She laughs when remembering how those 700 plants found their new home.

"In Europe, they roll out a carpet of plants much like you would roll out sod. We didn't have that option. We had to manually plant all 700 of these sedum and different plants."

That meant a lot of climbing up and down an old, silver ladder that Barnes hopes to replace next year. It also meant she had to face her fear of heights.

"It's not my favourite but as long as somebody is holding onto the bottom, I'm all right. It's more of the swing-around once you get to the top that's my biggest fear."

Barnes admits it's little scary going up and down to check on her garden. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

Barnes and Molaro both hope to see more rooftop gardens spring up in Saskatoon. Molaro said there are many benefits including soaking up and cleaning storm water before it eventually winds up in the river. That means less pressure on the city's infrastructure.

Barnes hopes others in Saskatoon will follow her lead.

"It's been great to see how many people are actually interested and have had their eyes opened to this option."

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