Trending Rooftop Gardening Ideas And Care

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Rooftop gardening is a concept that has been around for as long as there have been roofs. City dwellers have been tucking plants on roofs and fire escapes for generations. Even green roofs – roofs covered with soil and plants have been around for years. No matter how much land a gardener has, we always seem to be looking for more space, and rooftop gardens of all kinds are gaining popularity in residential and commercial regions.

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There are plenty of good reasons to consider rooftop gardens:

  • They make use of unused or underused space.

  • A garden beautifies an empty roof space.

  • They can provide privacy.

  • They can be extremely environmentally friendly.

  • There is usually good sun exposure on the roof.

  • No deer, rabbits, or other non-flying pests will invade the gardens.

  • They are relaxation getaways.

There are a couple of things to consider for a rooftop garden. Fully planted green roofs, where the roof is covered with soil and plants, will be too difficult for you to undertake on your own. This is because the weight of greenery will put a fair amount of stress on the structure. You will certainly need to hire a structural engineer or architect to analyze the roof and a professional company to install the green roof. Luckily, the easiest and most personal approach to rooftop gardening is using containers and raised beds. You can create any style of rooftop garden with container-grown plants, from a few simple herb plants to a formal, elegant vegetable garden. For your information, containers are perfect for rooftop gardens because they are light, portable, flexible, and affordable.

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 Caring for Your Rooftop Garden

While caring for container-grown plants on a rooftop is almost similar to gardening on the ground, there are a few rooftop preparations to consider before you can start hauling your pots outside.

  •  Permission: First, you should check with your landlord or check the building code. Questions about accessibility, building height restrictions, and fire regulations can inhibit roof usage.

  • Structural Integrity: You should make sure that the roof can hold the load. It will then be preferable to get a license for this. Likewise, soil and pots are heavy, to begin with, and will get heavier as the plants grow. I have personally tried to move a pot full of wet soil, and I know how much weight water can add.

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  • Access: How are you going to get your materials and supplies in and out? If you live in an apartment, make sure you are allowed to use the elevator. Furthermore, some municipalities might require multiple access or exits and possibly exit lighting, fire alarms, and emergency lighting.

  • Water: Will you be able to run a hose out to the roof? Watering cans can become a nuisance, and containers do require lots of water. Fortunately, you can consider installing a rain barrel and drip irrigation.

  • Sun Exposure: Are you shaded by nearby buildings or the terrace above you? Even sunlight can be a problem when plants are growing on top of concrete. Therefore, you should make sure to use the part of your roof that gets sunlight most of the time.

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  • Heat: Besides the sun beating down on the roof, there is ambient heat being reflected from the roof surface, surrounding buildings, streetcars, metal exhausts, and utility structures. Therefore, you will probably want to provide shade for you and your plants with tents and tarps.

  • Wind: Gusts of wind can be a major issue on straight urban streets, especially on high-rises. You may, then, consider some type of protective wall or fencing. If so, you will probably need to check your building code again for required heights and structural stability. Also, this is especially important when building safety dictates barriers for kids and pets.

  • Privacy: Most rooftops are surrounded by neighboring buildings. If your rooftop garden is in full view, you may want to figure out some screening methods. You can plant a hedge of evergreens, run vines up a trellis wall, or simply use an umbrella table.

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  • Electrical Wiring: Electricity isn’t essential, but it sure makes things easier. If you are planning on enjoying your garden at night, candles aren’t the best lighting for weeding!

  • Storage: There are a lot of accessories associated with gardening, such as tools, fertilizer, compost, and buckets. As your space will be limited on a rooftop, shelves and narrow closets will be of great use. Another creative option for you is bench seats with built-in storage space! Interesting, isn’t it?

  • Cost: Last but not the least, how much are you willing to spend? You can start small and add on, buying more pots and plants as you go. However, the real expense comes when you want to start building on the roof. For instance, laying tiles or stone, building raised beds and boxes, and adding lighting and furniture can all start to add up. Nevertheless, you may need more structural work to support them.

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Regardless of how your design starts out, large or small, a rooftop garden is an investment in peace of mind for you, providing hours of relaxation and reward.

With care and dedication, I have already started a small but lovely rooftop garden at home. I am now eagerly waiting to harvest my vegetables and fruits! I bet you will enjoy gardening on your rooftop too! Please do not forget to share your comments below!

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