How To Build A Rooftop Garden – Step By Step Guide

Introduction on how to build a rooftop garden

Rooftop gardens are environmentally-friendly and a beautiful addition to urban homes. If you are in an apartment or a house with no yard, rooftop gardens can allow you to cultivate ornamental trees and grasses, flowers, and even edible plants. Contact a structural engineer and map your garden before you start planting. Choose the proper plants and decorations to form the foremost of what space you’ve got.

In more urban areas, a gardener is restricted within the amount of space that they need. If you discover that you simply running out of the room, or if you want an outdoor living space, then things could also be looking up for you, literally. You may want to think about creating a rooftop garden. Rooftop gardens are a perfect way for an urban gardener to expand their space. Rooftop gardens also make use of frequently unused and wasted space.

A step by step guide to build your rooftop garden

Gardening can be a great way to relax and free your mind from the pressures. Futzing around with plants in the sun helps us to reconnect with the glories of the natural world that we’ve become increasingly isolated from. 

As long as you have rooftop access and a relatively chill landlord, there’s an excellent chance to build yourself a rooftop garden. It should only cost you a few hundred bucks and a weekend or two of your time—even less if you’ve already got spare materials lying around.

In this article, we are going to tell you everything about how to create a rooftop garden and things to get for a rooftop garden, and caring for your rooftop garden.

Benefits of rooftop gardens including:

  • Increased access to safe outdoor green space
  • A venue for urban food production 
  • Promotion of individual, community and cultural diversity
  • Areas for study and horticultural therapy
  • Improved air quality and absorption of carbon dioxide
  • There is usually good sun exposure
  • Minimization of stormwater run-off, and support for a rainwater collection system
  • Increased habitat for birds, butterflies and insects
  • By providing a layer of insulation on buildings, reduced heating and cooling costs
  • They make use of unused or underused space

Steps about how to build a rooftop garden

These are the steps involved in building a rooftop garden:

Consult an architect

No matter how well equipped, you are technical, mentally, or physically, having an expert by your side is always beneficial. There are various details that need to be considered when building a roof garden, and you may not know about them. Therefore, consulting a specialist before starting the project is quite essential. You need to find an architect not for the construction of the garden, but for determining if your home is safe for the construction of a roof garden. The job of this architect will be to tell you whether your house is suitable for the creation of a roof garden.

Suitability assessment to build your rooftop garden

If you are thinking about creating a garden on your roof, then the first thing you need to do is find out if your roof is suitable for making a garden.

For that, you have to know the answers for some questions below:

  • Can your roof supports a rooftop garden?
  • What is the orientation of your roof?
  • Will you need to provide protection with wood decking, pavers, rigid insulation, gravel, or grass?
  • Is the roof being replaced in the next few years?

For this, you might need to talk to an architect and make sure. They will provide you with the structural details you require to determine whether you can create a rooftop garden. You need to find an architect not for the construction of the garden, but for determining if your home is safe for the construction of a roof garden.

Arranging windbreaks to build your rooftop garden

Since roof gardens are wider than normal ones, you will need to have windbreaks incorporated into its design. Avoid using solid windbreaks as aren’t very effective, and they get easily knocked down by high winds. Instead, trellises or latticed windbreaks are ideal for this purpose, since they disrupt the flow of wind instead of stopping it completely.

Setting up the soil to build a rooftop terrace garden

The next important part is preparing the soil for the rooftop garden. Most plants can grow on a roof as long as they are provided with an adequate amount of soil to stabilize and flourish. Make sure you study the depth of soil required for different species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers so you match the right species with the conditions provided on your roof.

In terms of handling and for practical reasons, soil alone or topsoil for roof gardening can be difficult to work with in comparison to manufactured soilless media. Soil is not only heavy and bulky, but it can also have pathogen contaminants and potential chemical and, if not screened, may contain rocks or debris that may make the product inconsistent. Soil’s saturated weight can reach 120 lb/ft3 (7.5 kg/m3), which is far too high for roof gardening. The targeted saturated weight of rooftop growing media should be 48-65 lb/ft3 (3-4 kg/ m3).

Compost is the most important element, and you can find the good stuff at nearby community gardens or composting operations. You can make your own, too, but it might be hard to produce enough if you’re building a large rooftop garden. Still, never settle for the store-bought stuff.

Conduct weight test for your rooftop garden

In case your building can hold the extra weight which a garden is going to add, you need to pay special attention to the weight of your rooftop garden. You should make sure to minimize the weight as much as possible. For instance, make use of fiberglass or plastic planting containers instead of earthen ones. Make sure to avoid using pavers at all costs. Try not to make use of garden dirt and go for lightweight potting soil. For drainage, try to make use of the Styrofoam peanuts rather than going for those pottery shards.

Choosing the right plants for your roof garden

Gardening on a roof is quite different from gardening at ground level. Rooftops have unique and often extreme microclimates. The amount of sun and wind your roof receives will have a direct effect on what is going to grow, how often you’ve to water, and whether your plants will survive the winter. You will need to take these conditions into consideration when selecting plants for your roof garden. You will also have to consider the amount of time and resources you have for watering and maintaining plants, especially during the summer.

Plants like Azure bluet, chamomile, sedum hispanicum, Sedum reflexum, thyme, misty butterfly, and blue haze arctic fire are suitable for a roof terrace. If you are planting them deep, make sure to keep the patches sensible so that they can spread.

Use moisture blanket after pouring the gravels

Now comes the easier part. Here you just need to pour on your bags of gravel. The gravels need to be brushed into place and rolled over the root membrane. Now, pour on some more gravel if you want a thicker layer.

Once the gravels are in place you need to spread out the moisture blanket. While doing this make sure to leave a 6-8 inches’ space around the corners. You can even make use of old clothes, towels, and sacks as a moisture blanket since they are going to stay damp for a long time.

Now, you have to pour another layer of gravels over the moisture blanket. Large pieces of pebbles and gravels can be spread around the edges of the terrace. This would lead to proper drainage and prevent the plants from growing into your building.

Finally, make use of flashing tapes to attach the pond liner to the corners of your building. This will ensure that no water is going to get beneath the pond liner.

Decide on the watering system of rooftop gardening

Finally, you need to consider how to water the plants of your pretty garden on the terrace. Your plants will require frequent watering and of course, you would not want to carry heavy buckets of water to the roof each day since that is not practical. Therefore, it is important that you come up with a proper solution beforehand.

You can either build a water storage system on your rooftop or have an automatic irrigation system installed. A stormwater solution or a rainwater harvester is an excellent way for ensuring better water utility for the roof garden. In the summer months, you need to frequently water your garden or else your plants will get scorched.

Make sure to keep all these steps in mind before you set about to create your lovely garden on the roof.

Now that you have all you need to know about preparing your roof for the garden, let us get to the more important part of the topic of how to make a rooftop garden.

Required materials to build your rooftop garden

The materials needed for your roof garden will depend on the type of roof you have.

Typical materials for a rooftop garden may include:

  • Plants
  • Growing containers
  • Growing medium
  • Decking or other material that can be walked on
  • Seating, wildlife features, greenhouses or composters

Now that you know everything about how to build a roof garden it’s time to gear up for creating a beautiful breathing space on your terrace.

Constructing a roof garden is not a one-man job and you should find someone to help you with the entire process. In case you lack the confidence of pulling it off on your own, then perhaps it’s best to consult a specialist before you set about doing the project.

Three main problems to build your rooftop garden

There is an endless variety of ways to garden on a roof, but it consists of three components intended to address what you can consider to be the three main problems confronting the would-be rooftop gardener.

A PVC structure wrapped in bamboo fencing to protect the plants from wind, which can be brutal on a roof.

Self-watering containers to reduce the amount of time spent lugging water up to the roof and to ensure that, if you don’t do so for a few days, the plants won’t suffer.

A homemade soil mixture to encourage a bountiful harvest by providing the plants with primo dirt that won’t require constant fertilizing.

Suitable plants you can grow on a roof garden

Roof area is often used to create decorative vegetation, or edible garden or to make a low maintenance garden. The rooftop garden is sufficient to grow various sorts of vegetation: shrubs, grasses, annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, and even dwarf fruit trees depending on what you would like to grow, climate, budget, available space and therefore the functioning of the building.

Caring your rooftop garden

Rooftop gardens are a great way to utilize wasted or unused spaces. However, building one requires research and planning. Listed below are some of the things to keep in mind when setting up a rooftop garden.

You should not miss this: Growing Leafy Organic Vegetables.

Caring for your rooftop garden.
Caring for your rooftop garden.

Start with a plan: Before starting a rooftop garden, consider whether you would like to install raised beds or would rather garden in containers, and approximately how many of each you’d like to have.

Consult with the building engineer: It’s a good idea to consult with the building manager or engineer to ensure that the roof can support the weight of your garden.

Waterproofing: One of the most important points to consider is waterproofing your garden to prevent water from seeping to the homes below. The solution you pick must account for expansion under physical or thermal movements of the structure, without compromising on the durability and protection.

Permission: First, check with your landlord and/or building code. Questions about fire regulations, building height restrictions, and accessibility can prohibit any type of roof use.

Structural Integrity: It is important to understand the structure of the building and the amount of load it can hold before you begin building the garden. Consult a specialist to figure out which kind of containers and soil is best.

Use sturdy materials: For containers, opt for larger sized pots, such as half-barrel planters, that will be less likely to dry out or blow around in windy conditions.

Check into 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. You’ll need easy access to the roof to transport plants, materials, soil, and tools up and down. 

Pick the right planting medium: In rooftop containers and raised beds, potting soil is your best friend. Not only does it hold water better than garden soil, but it’s also lightweight and won’t compact over time.

Sun and Heat: Make note of the site’s light exposure. Most roofs receive full sun, but if yours is shaded by neighboring buildings most of the day, you’ll be better off growing shade-loving plants. If your roof is painted black, it will be significantly hotter than a white or silver roof.

Wind: It can be extremely gusty on a roof, especially if it’s unshielded by adjacent buildings. Take note of the areas that are most vulnerable to wind and plan accordingly. If your roof has no windbreaks, either install something to shelter your plants – like a well-secured trellis – or choose low containers that hug the perimeter walls.

Drainage: While the soil absorbs most of the water, plants give out excess water which can ruin the aesthetic of your rooftop garden and weaken the structure of the building. The runoff or excess water requires a drainage solution that utilizes this water for reuse.

Storage: Be sure to include a storage area that can hold gardening tools, eco-friendly fertilizer, and more. You can even opt for a bench with built-in storage for concealed storage. This will ensure your space does not look cluttered.

In case if you are interested in Vegetable Planting Chart in India.

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