A Guide to Start Rooftop Gardening

Rooftop gardening is an idea that has been around as long as there have been roofs. City dwellers have been tucking plants on roofs and an emergency exit for generations. Even environment-friendly roofings, roofs covered with soil and plants, have been around for years. It seems despite how much land a garden enthusiast has, we always seem to be looking for more room, and roof gardens of all kinds are acquiring popularity in both residential and industrial sites.


There are lots of good reasons to consider a rooftop garden:

  • They use unused or underused space
  • A garden enhances a space
  • They can offer privacy
  • They can be exceptionally environmentally friendly
  • There is generally good sunlight exposure
  • No deer, bunnies, or other non-flying pests to worry about


Options for Your Rooftop Garden

There are a couple of directions to go in when planning a rooftop garden. Fully planted green roofs, where the roof is covered with soil, and the plants are planted in it, make an excellent environmental sense. However, they are too hard for homeowners to undertake on their own. The weight of an eco-friendly roof can easily cover 100 lbs. per sq. ft., before adding people. You would require to hire a structural engineer or architect to perform structural analysis and probably a professional company to install it.

The simplest and most personal approach to rooftop gardening is the use of containers and elevated beds. You can develop any style of rooftop garden with container-grown plants, from a couple of simple herb plants to a formal, classy potager. Containers are ideal for roof gardens since they are light, portable, versatile, and budget-friendly.


Caring for Your Rooftop Garden

While looking after container-grown plants on a rooftop is much like maintaining containers on the ground, there are a couple of rooftop idiosyncracies to consider before you begin hauling your pots outside.

Permission: First, talk to your landlord and/or the building ordinance. Questions concerning accessibility, building height restrictions, and fire regulations can ban any rooftop usage.

Structural Integrity: Ensure the roof can hold the load. Get a licensed pro to do this. Soil and pots are heavy to start with and will get heavier as the plants grow. If you have ever tried to relocate a pot loaded with damp soil, you understand how much weight water can add.

Accessibility: How are you going to get your materials and products in and out? If you stay in an apartment, make sure you are allowed to use the elevator. Some municipalities require numerous access/exits and perhaps exit lighting, fire alarms, and emergency lights.

Water: Will you have the ability to run a hose out to the roof? Sprinkling containers can end up being a hassle, and containers call for a lot of water. Think about setting up a rain barrel and drip irrigation.

Sun Exposure: Are you shaded by nearby structures or the terrace above you? Even some sun can be a problem when plants are sweltering on top of concrete.

Heat: Besides the sunlight beating down on the roof, there is ambient heat reflected from the roof surface, surrounding buildings, streetcars, and metal exhaust, as well as utility structures. You will probably intend to provide some shade, if not for the plants, then for you.

Wind: Wind can whip down straight urban streets, specifically on high-rises. You might wish to consider some wall or fence. If so, you will probably need to check your building ordinance once more for required heights and structural stability. It is specifically essential when building safety dictates barriers for children and pets.

Personal Privacy: A lot of rooftops are surrounded by neighboring buildings. If your rooftop garden is in full view, you might want to prepare for screening. You can grow a bush of evergreens, run vines up a trellis wall, or tuck under an umbrella table.

Electrical Wiring: Electricity isn't vital, but it sure makes things simpler. If you are planning on enjoying your garden during the night, candle lights aren't the best lights for weeding.

Storage: There's a lot of paraphernalia associated with gardening: tools, fertilizer, garden compost, and buckets. Space is limited on a rooftop, and it is hard to camouflage a storage area. Shelves will suffice. Some rooftop garden enthusiasts go with narrow closets. An additional option is bench seating with built-in storage to do double duty.

Cost: Finally, how much are you willing to spend? You can begin little and add on, purchasing more pots and plants (and soil) as you go. The real expenditure comes when you intend to start hardscaping and building on the roof. Laying tiles or stones, building raised beds and boxes, adding illumination and furnishings can all begin to add up. Plus, you might need extra structural work to support them.

Regardless of your style starting, big or small, a rooftop garden is an investment in satisfaction for many urban dwellers, providing hours of relaxation and reward.