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What Is a rooftop garden and how to make one

If you want to add more greenery around you, then building a garden is a great idea. However, not everyone has the luxury of space to do so especially for people living in urban environments. This is one reason why rooftop gardens are becoming more popular.

Rooftop gardens are man-made green spaces situated on roofs or terraces of residential, industrial, and commercial structures.

Rooftop gardens can range from small DIY home projects (check these pictures I found) to massive park-like environments in skyscrapers. Depending on the space available to you, you can design your rooftop garden to suit your needs and lifestyle.

In this post,  I will talk about how to make a rooftop garden and its benefits.

The Benefits of a Rooftop Garden

Having a rooftop garden is a beautiful addition to any structure.

It adds a visual appeal to what could have been just a lackluster terrace or roof space. However, aside from the aesthetic value that rooftop gardens provide, there are also other environmental, economic, and wellness benefits that you could gain. Because of these advantages, rooftop gardens have become a popular feature of houses and buildings that feature environmentally sustainable architecture.

Rooftop gardens can improve air quality

The presence of more plants in the area means more oxygen, which can help improve air quality. This can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people living in the space.

Reduce Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in cities

If you live in a densely populated area like New York, for example, converting your roof space to a garden area can actually help better the environment. Metropolitan and urban areas typically have warmer temperatures caused by a high level of energy usage of the population as well as lesser natural elements. This is called the Urban Heat Island effect. Because a rooftop garden can help reduce the temperature above the roof, this could result in lessening or equalizing the UHI effect in your surroundings.

a rooftop garden and solar panel on a home's rooftop #garden #rooftopGarden #roof #homeImprovements #containers #outdoorSpace
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Rooftop gardens can make your place more energy efficient

Rooftop gardens can also serve as an energy efficiency feature for a home or building. This is because rooftop gardens can act as an insulator that can help regulate the structure’s temperature. This could contribute towards energy savings by lowering your utility bills all year round. Having a more energy efficient property can also increase its value.

Helps control water runoff

Plants in a rooftop garden can help absorb and retain heavy rainwater, which can prevent rapid water runoff. When water runoff is not controlled this contributes to soil erosion and can destroy surrounding habitats such as your plants and landscaped area on the ground.

Serves as an additional living space

A rooftop garden can be an additional living space for homeowners or corporate employees. Depending on the size of the garden, the space can be a personal retreat if you want to be surrounded by greenery or it could also serve as an entertaining area.

a rooftop garden for an outdoor living space #garden #rooftopGarden #roof #homeImprovements #containers #outdoorSpace
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How To Make A Rooftop Garden?

The best thing about rooftop gardens is that you don’t really need a huge space to create one. You don’t need to have a backyard, nor do you need an entire building’s roof area. You can build depending on your available space like on top of a house, a shed, or a terrace.

If you are considering building your own rooftop garden, here is a step-by-step guide that can help you in your project.

Step 1: Assess your roof area

The first step in your rooftop garden project is evaluating the space where you’re planning your garden to be at. You have to make sure that the space is viable for a rooftop garden. It will be useful to ask the following questions and seeking the help of professionals for concrete answers.

  • Do I need permission from the local government to build my rooftop garden? 
  • Is the roof space structurally sound to hold the weight of the plants, people, and other elements? 
  • What is the weight limit the roof garden can hold? 
  • Does the roof provide ideal conditions for plants to grow and thrive? 
  • Will I be able to easily access the roof before, during, and after the garden is built? 

Step 2: Choosing the garden design and types of greenery

The design of your garden will depend on the space that you have. Typical rooftop gardens that can structurally hold the weight of people, larger plants and other outdoor furnishings are called Intensive Vegetative Roof Systems. When choosing a design for this type of garden, make sure that the layout will be optimal for the plants to thrive.

If you have a flat roof on top of a house or a shed, you can still have a garden albeit a shallow one. This type of garden is called the Extensive Vegetative Roof System, which is usually six inches or shallower. Short plants like herbs, grass, flowering plants with shallow root systems are used in these types of rooftop gardens.

Choosing the right types of plants is also important. Make sure to consider the climate in your area to know which plants are suitable for such climate. Do your research before buying the plants. Go for plants that are not very high maintenance and can survive rooftop living. Consult a professional if you are unsure about what type of plants to add to your garden.

a big pot for a rooftop garden  #garden #rooftopGarden #roof #homeImprovements #containers #planters #gardenplanters
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Step 3: Prepping your roof

Now that you are in the building stage, you first have to prepare your roof. If it has some structural issues, make sure that these are addressed before you even set foot on the roof. Do not gamble on an unsafe rooftop area as this may cause accidents.

You also want to make check your roof for waterproofing, insulation, and drainage issues beforehand. This will prevent leaks and other problems later on. It is better to involve an architect or a roof construction expert to ensure that your roof is ready for a garden environment.

Another consideration is water access. You have to make sure that you can water the plants without carrying heavy buckets of water to the roof every time.

Step 4: Building your rooftop garden

In building your rooftop garden, you can be as creative as you like but make sure that you are within the weight limitations and you’re using plants suited to your climate.

Use items with lightweight materials like plastic pots and décor. Avoid heavy garden fixtures like marble statues or bulky metal chairs.

If you live in a windy area, consider placing trellises to act as a windbreaker. This will protect your plants from strong winds.

a rooftop garden at night  #garden #rooftopGarden #roof #homeImprovements
Image credit: trendecor​

Step 5: Maintenance

Maintaining a rooftop garden is a little more challenging than a garden on the ground. Even if your garden only has a few plants, you have to ensure that they are taken care of to survive the rooftop environment.

In case of any issues like leaks or unwanted pests, you may need to consult a specialized maintenance company so they can fix the problem without damaging your roof.

Is a rooftop garden right for you?

A rooftop garden is a wonderful way to convert a boring roof space into something visually and environmentally beneficial.

Before deciding on building your rooftop garden, carefully consider whether your roof can handle the type of garden you want and if you can manage the added cost and maintenance it requires.

What is a rooftop garden? #garden #rooftopGarden #roof #homeImprovements

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About The Author

Nadya Jones

Nadya is a writer, entrepreneur, and designer based in Raleigh. She writes in her blog, the one you are visiting right now, where she shares her love for landscaping, gardening, and outdoor design. Her husband Brett provides her with a lot of inspiration and behind-the-scenes content. Together, they work on creating beautiful outdoor spaces that serve as an extension of their home and inspire others to do the same. If you are interested in landscaping, gardening, or outdoor design, be sure to check out the blog! Also, follow Nadya on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr!

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