Living in the city can sometimes be suffocating. Wherever you go, all you see are cars and skyscrapers. You crave a breath of fresh air and some change of scenery, but it’s impossible. You have no unlimited breaks, and it’s expensive to travel. Or, you could be someone who lives in a very limited space, like a small house, and you don’t have any big yards to start your green hobby.
Whatever your reason is, there is a way for you to make your dreams of green space a reality.
A rooftop garden is a collection of plants tended by gardeners on a flat roof space, like houses or apartments. There are different types of roof gardening, and you can choose what will fit your needs.
If you’ve been stuck scrolling on social media and want to do something in that flat space on your rooftop, then maybe it’s time to put that search into reality.
Here are some tips you can take note of before starting an urban rooftop garden.
1. Check out the pros and cons
Before anything else, try to check the advantages and disadvantages of rooftop gardening. This hobby needs patience and intense planning. This is something that you just can’t abandon when you don’t feel like it anymore. Like any other project, urban rooftop gardening has its ‘yays’ and ‘nays.’ It’s better to do extensive research, like reading blogs and watching YouTube videos or talking to someone who has done the project before.
Once you weigh the pros and cons of the project, you can then decide if you still want it or if you want to save yourself from the trouble.
2. Identify your type
As mentioned, there are different types of rooftop gardening. Extensive roofs are usually where you simply grow plants in your roof space. With this type of roof, you can use low-maintenance plants because they will be exposed to harsh weather conditions without much plant care. Extensive roofs are usually done when you need to grow plants for your own use.
Intensive roofs, on the other hand, are what you mostly see on social media. Some hotels and apartment owners do this in their extra roof space. With intensive roofs, everything is well planned. People can enjoy this type of garden, and it very much involves environmental and aesthetic benefits.
Knowing what type of rooftop garden you want will determine how you plan the rest of the project.
3. Ask if you’re allowed
If you’re staying in an apartment complex or condominium unit, check with the building owner if they would allow you to do some planting. If they say yes, ask about their set limitations. Will they allow you to install pipes and build canopy walls, or are you only allowed to place plant boxes? Don’t do anything without the permission of those potentially involved with the project.
A pro-tip is to make a concrete plan and a blueprint of what you want to happen. If you’re dead-set on making your rooftop garden, do some presentations to convince the owner. You never know; they might offer assistance if you can give them a good enough reason for your project.
But if you’re building on your own roof, talk with your friends, family members, or anyone you’re sharing the roof with. It doesn’t hurt to check for consensus first.
4. Choose your plants wisely
When selecting your plants, consider your goal. Are you aiming for aesthetics and enjoyment alone, or do you also want a garden that can feed you? From there, see which plants can survive the conditions of the roof. Choose low-maintenance, sun-loving plants if your roof is fully exposed to sunlight. If there is some shade available, you can also consider that for your options.
You can also choose whatever plants you like and build a plan from them. You can install shades and windbreaks if you like.
5. Building containers
With rooftop gardens, you can let your imagination run wild and go with a design that pleases your eyes. You can buy ready-made plant containers or you can customize your own. If you’re starting small, simply cutting out gallons and clay pots is enough. But if you want to go big, then consult with expert gardeners and landscapers on what you can do.
Just make sure that your containers are fit for your plant. Some plants need adequate drainage holes so they can grow properly. Also, check the weight of your containers. Some roofs might not be able to handle containers and plants that are too heavy.
6. Consider your water system.
Your plants will need water to survive. This is where things can get complicated because you must find a way to sustain your plants’ watering needs. A watering can is a good option for small rooftop gardens like the one in your house. But you might have to consider other options if you are in a tall building or you find it bothersome to fetch water constantly.
You can set up water barrels in your rooftop garden, or even better, you can build an extensive water system. Connect with the central water system in the building or your house and set up a garden faucet or water drip system. Make sure to talk with the building owner about the water system.
7. Secure your access
Now the question is, how accessible is your rooftop? You need proper access to the roof because you would need to bring your plants and craft materials there. Don’t plan a rooftop garden when your only access to the space is through a small fire exit beside the building.
Always consider your safety more than anything else. Ask the building owner if they have better staircase access that they’re willing to open for you. If you’re doing it with your house, you might have to build access to your rooftop.
Rooftop gardening is not an easy project. You will have to dedicate your time to planning and overseeing everything so you can achieve desirable results. Don’t be discouraged and ask for help if you need to. You can always make it happen if you really want it.