Gardening Basics

10 things you should consider before planning rooftop garden

October 11, 2011

rooftop gardenAs the name suggests, rooftop gardening involves installing a garden, complete with ornamental flowers and plants on top of urban buildings, maybe even high-rising buildings. The amount of greenery in the cities have decreased manifold which has made the city dwellers crave for some soothing and comforting vegetation. Roofs and fire escapes are the most favorite places of these city dwellers where they like to grow some plants of their choice. Rooftop gardening is therefore, definitely not a new concept.

There are many reasons why the city dwellers would want a roof top garden. Other than being of aesthetic value, gardens are also eco-friendly and provide respite from noise and air pollution. This way unused barren spaces can be put to good use and the plants would also get good exposure of sunlight.

Let us go through the list below to find out what are the researches you must do to successfully plan an installation of a roof top garden.

1. Types

Rooftop gardening can be done by placing the plants in small containers. This is the easiest method that a person can adopt. However, you can opt for fully planted green roofs. In this method, the whole terrace is covered with soil and plants are grown on it. This method is eco-friendly and are really mesmerizing to look at. This sort of mass scale installation requires professional help and you should approach structural engineers and architects.

2. Permission

Issues like building height restriction and fire regulation might prohibit the usage of roofs in any way. It is best to consult with the landlord, building codes before going ahead with the idea.

3. Structural integrity

The roof should be able to bear the weight of the garden. It is best to get an analysis done by a licensed professional. Soil, plants and water are quite weighty themselves. When the plants grow, it would become even heavier. Make sure, the roof can bear that much amount of weight.

4. Access

Access to the roof must be easy. If it is an apartment, then make sure you can utilize the elevator. Also access to the materials required for rooftop gardening, such as tools, seeds, compost, fertilizers, etc., is also important. Without easy access to those, you cannot successfully grow a garden on the roof.

5. Water

Needless to mention, you need a reliable source of water like a hosepipe because using watering cans is a messy idea. Drip irrigation and rain barrels are environment friendly ideas of a source of water. Proper drainage of the water is also important. If the water does not drain out, it may start seeping to the lower floors and the roof will be damaged badly.

6. Sun exposure

Plants definitely need sunlight to grow. But too much of it might be a problem and may hamper the growth. So, you might consider building some sort of shade to shield yourself and the plants from the sunlight.

7. Wind

Roofs of high rises might be very windy. The gales would be strong enough to whip the plants placed on the roof and destroy your handy work. You should consider constructing barriers to prevent this effect. The wind breakers would keep the plants out of harm’s way. But, you would be required to get permission to install those.

8. Privacy

If the roof is accessible to other people from surrounding buildings, then the roof should be made a little more private. If many people decide to rampage on the roof, obviously the plants would not be able to grow.

9. Storage

Fertilizers, tools, compost, pesticides, buckets, etc., are common accessories that a gardener needs often. To store these an appropriate place must be selected. Moreover, it must be camouflaged such that it is not apparent to other viewers. Shelves and boxes are an option, but they are hard to camouflage. Benches with built in storage is a good option as it works both ways by providing a seat and a storage area.

10. Cost

Cost is an important factor that you have to keep in mind. If you start with a few plants, then it would not be very expensive. As you go on adding features and hardscaping the roof, it would require additional structural support. This would require some investment and would be quite costly.

These are the ten factors you should consider before taking up a big and time consuming project like rooftop gardening.

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