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Rooftop garden design ideas: Tips to set up and maintain a roof top garden

[ecis2016.org] Here are some design ideas to set up a rooftop garden, to transform the roof into a relaxing outdoor space and also enjoy organic fresh produce

With scarcity of green space in urban areas, rooftop gardens have become a new trend. With some easy tips, you can transform your roof into a relaxing outdoor space and enjoy organic fresh produce. So, here are a few design ideas to set-up a rooftop garden.

You are reading: Rooftop garden design ideas: Tips to set up and maintain a roof top garden

 

What is a rooftop garden?

Rooftop garden design ideas

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A rooftop garden or roof garden is a landscaped, green space on the top floor of a residential or commercial building. Rooftop gardens are mostly found in urban areas and are used to grow vegetables, fruits and provide a play space or relaxing green area. The designs include paving, decking, seating, flower beds, or raised planters, cultivated gardens or urban farms. A large number of green roofs can be found on the top of buildings across many cities in the world. The green roof vegetation can be of two types – extensive and intensive. Extensive vegetation means herbs, small plants and shrubs, while intensive vegetation includes heavy shrubs and small trees on a rooftop.

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Roof top garden benefits

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

There are many benefits of a rooftop garden. It helps in recreation and relaxation. Plants and trees have a soothing impact on one’s mind. One can grow fruits and vegetables on a rooftop as such farming is gaining momentum among those who prefer organic products. Rooftop gardens help in urban farming. Further, plants are the best air filters to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Green roofs can also help in reducing air pollution. The rooftop gardens can also moderate noise. Both, plants and soil, absorb, reflect and deflect sound waves and can reduce noise pollution to a certain extent. Rooftop gardens can make full use of rainwater harvesting. Rooftop gardens provide shade and can cool the roof surface. Climate scientists have suggested that rooftop gardens can help ease severe heat conditions in cities. In winters, the green roof can minimise heat loss through added insulation on the roof.

 

Things to consider when setting up a rooftop garden

Check the load capacity

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Check the rooftop load capacity before setting up a roof garden. Soil and pots are heavy and will get heavier when plants grow.

 

Waterproof the roof and ensure it has a good drainage system and slope

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Before planning a rooftop garden, ensure the roof is waterproof with no leakage. Apply some coverage techniques or chemical waterproofing solutions by consulting an expert. This will help solve seepage of water into walls or roofs, which can cause dampness or other damages.

Proper drainage of planters is vital for their growth. It is recommended to place them on brick stands. A mosaic of broken China tiles can also give protection against seepage. The best way to create a slope is to install concrete bedding to divert water towards drains. Ensure good drainage system during heavy rainfall.

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Windbreaks on rooftop gardens

Rooftop garden design ideas

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If an area is windy, set up windbreaks around the plants to prevent them from getting uprooted and destroyed. A trellis or a perimeter wall can help block heavy gusts and anchor your plants in soil. Glasses can also be used as a balustrade and wind buffer on a rooftop garden as it aids in an uninterrupted view.

Rooftop garden safety 

Rooftop garden design ideas 

Safety is paramount in any rooftop garden idea. So, avoid hanging anything over the edges, or placing pots on ledges, unless it is firmly secure. Always barricade the edges of a roof garden. The floor surface of any rooftop gardens should be non-slippery.

 

Rooftop garden design

Rooftop garden design ideas

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Setting up a green outdoor space on a rooftop needs proper planning. Choose a layout for the rooftop garden and select the type of plants to be grown on it. Some plants need more sunlight, while some need shade. While selecting plants for the rooftop garden, consider the weather conditions on your roof and choose plants accordingly. Try to understand if those plants can grow on a roof, then finalise its layout. Always choose a diverse set of plants. Design the garden with herbs, shrubs, creepers, and climbers, be it small-sized, large-sized, flowering, or non-flowering. 

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If the plantation is to be directly done on the terrace, it is advisable to install drainage cells (polyethylene tiles that act as a permanent non-clogging gap between the concrete slab and soil). Get a geotextile membrane before putting soil.

Avoid placing pots at the roof centre and do not add too many. Fixing pots on surrounding walls or placing them on shelves will help as walls will sustain their weight and not the roof.

Go for raised beds for plantation to avoid leakage issues. Decorate the rooftop garden with lights, fountains, statues and opt for aesthetic arrangements with colourful plant containers. 

 

Rooftop vegetable garden using urban farming

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Home-grown vegetables taste delicious, are good for your health and are free from chemicals. Begin with a few easy-to-grow plants, such as perennial fruit trees and leafy greens. Herbs, such as sweet basil, tulsi, mint, mustard, sesame and fennel, are ideally interspersed with vegetables in the bed.

 

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Try to grow plants, as per the weather conditions of the area and those that require low maintenance. You can grow radish, spinach fenugreek, tomatoes, curry leaves, coriander, green chilies, cucumber, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, mango, banana, custard apple, pomegranate, pineapple, papaya, cabbage, okra, among others.

 

Flowers on the rooftop garden

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Flowers have a soothing effect and lift your mood with their colours and fragrance. You can grow hibiscus, frangipani, marigold, periwinkle, rose, etc., which will add colour to the rooftop garden.

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

You can grow flowers in garden boxes and hang them along the railings.

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Nurture flowers on the rooftop garden to attract native bees and other beneficial insects. Flowers such as bougainvillea, jasmine, gardenia, clematis, rangoon creeper, hibiscus, rose, oleander, and plumerias can be grown in planters. To attract butterflies, grow plants like clitoria, parijat, adenium, lantana vincas, and honeysuckle.

 

Soil and compost for rooftop garden planters

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Soil is an important factor while planning a rooftop garden and for healthy growth of plants. A perfect mix of vermicompost and sand in regular soil, in equal proportion make the soil fertile. Soil nutrition and organic composting is the only way to nurture plants. All the wet waste from kitchens like vegetables, fruit peels, eggshells, etc., can be turned into compost by adding a carbon source in the form of dry leaves, sawdust, etc. Addition of microbes to this mixture starts the composting process and breaks down the waste into rich black compost in a few weeks. So, the best way is to use kitchen wastes and make compost.

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Rooftop garden seating

Rooftop garden design ideas

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Go for lightweight waterproof furniture for a rooftop garden. Ensure that it is comfortable. If chairs and lounges are without cushions, place a few cushions and pillows on them. Use good quality outdoor fabric that is both, fade-resistant and mildew-resistant. Folding chairs – be it plastic, wood, or metal – are good furniture options for big and small outdoor spaces as these can be moved or packed easily. If space permits, go for comfortable sofas or rattan chairs.

 

Rooftop garden lights

Rooftop garden design ideas

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Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

It is important to light up the garden so that you can use it in the evenings and at nights. The lighting needs to look stunning and illuminate the space properly. Enhance the décor of the rooftop garden with appropriate illumination. Fairy lights, LEDs, or even solar-powered lights can be a good option. Focused lightings for trees can be used to create a magical effect at night.

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Rooftop garden maintenance tips

Rooftop garden design ideas

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Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Setting-up a rooftop garden is fun, but it is equally important to ensure that it is maintained properly.

Beware of pest attacks and opt for pest control to eliminate harmful bugs.

Generally, people tend to over water the plants. This not only washes out the vital nutrients from soil but also causes the roots to rot. Keep the soil moist. Remove dry leaves, twigs, and flowers regularly. Spray water on foliage at least once in a day. Loosen the soil surface for good aeration of roots once a fortnight.

 

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Remove dry or dead flowers and add them back to soil and add manure once in a month-time.

Depending upon its type, place the plants at a proper location. If sunlight is too dim, plants tend to grow lanky, lose their colour and get pale yellow foliage. Some plants need semi-shade areas.

Rooftop garden design ideas 

 

Decorate the rooftop garden with wind chimes, a bird-feeder, brass bells, lanterns, etc. The roof can be covered with shading features like pergolas.

Install a water fountain to make it look attractive. Its magical sound will draw you out every evening. Keep garden accessories like a gnome or a frog, or even a small sculpture.

Check the roof on regular basis to know if the water-proofing layer is damaged, as this can result into seepage problems.

 

Green roofs for future healthy cities

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

Green roofs can improve the health of cities. Germany, the US, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are developing green roofs in cities to reduce the negative impact of construction activities and encourage urban farming. Cities need growth and development but it should be sustainable. The concept of green buildings is gaining momentum in Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. State governments are developing green building policies to make it mandatory to implement rainwater harvesting, use of solar panels and make rooftop gardens popular. For example, the BMC, Mumbai has proposed to make it mandatory for all new buildings having a plot size of more than 2,000 sq metres to plan rooftop or terrace gardens. This policy will help in increasing the green cover areas, which is reduced due unavailability of land.

 

Rooftop garden design ideas

 

FAQs

What kind of fruits can be grown on a rooftop garden?

You can grow, Papaya, Pomegranate, Orange, etc. easily in big containers on the rooftop garden.

How can I use walls on rooftop gardens?

A vertical garden can be planned along the walls of the rooftop garden. Utilize the vertical area of the rooftop creatively. Adorn the walls by hanging planters on tall wooden shelves, trellis ladders, or grow climbers.

What kinds of containers are ideal for rooftop gardens?

Avoid heavy pots made up of clay and cement for rooftop gardens. Use wooden, fibre planters, coir pots or recycled plastic pots, etc. for the garden. You can use recycle bottles, takeaway plastic boxes, coconut shells, broken buckets, kitchen pots, etc. as planters.

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Source: https://ecis2016.org
Category: Rent

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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