How to set up a Roof Garden

As more and more people reside in tighter living spaces, and available land to build on becomes scarcer, increasing numbers of people choose to create a roof garden to provide them with some garden space. If the idea of having a roof garden appeals, then read on to find out all you need to know.

Why have a roof garden?

Even if you don’t have the space to own a conventional garden, a roof garden has tons of appeal in itself. In many cities, where living space is tight, roof gardens are highly sought-after and can add value to the price of your property.

High up from the ground and away from the noise of traffic, a roof garden can be an idyllic oasis, providing stretching vistas and intriguing skylines.

As well as being good for the environment, this garden in the sky has other benefits too. It has been suggested that a roof garden acts as natural insulation, which can reduce your heating and cooling costs.

If there is a storm, a roof garden can decrease water runoff as much of the water is captured by the plants. Even in far-away Eastern European countries like Belarus, with all its traditions and rituals, roof gardens have become a very common and popular sight.

Some experts believe that a roof garden can increase the life expectancy of your roof, as the garden protects it from fluctuations in weather and temperatures. It may even lower the risk of fire.

How to create a roof garden

So how do you go about creating a roof garden? There are lots of things to consider, and many aspects will depend on the type of roof you’ve got and the size.

Before you start putting design plans into practice, you might want to consider getting some expert advice from a builder, roofer or architect who can advise if your roof would be able to withstand transforming it into a garden. And if you want to do it all by yourself, great! This will get you in shape and you won’t need to buy, for example, a highly-priced e-bike to get fit and in shape!

Some buildings might not be able to take the extra weight from anything you put in the garden, such as plants, pots, furniture, etc, so it’s always best to follow expert advice. You’ll also need to consider water drainage of the roof and ensure it is waterproof. It’s worth checking if you require any planning permission from the local authority.

Once you’ve got the all-clear to go ahead, consider what kind of roof garden you want to create. A lot will depend on the size of your garden, and what sort of style you want to achieve. But, you’ll also need to bear in mind the limitations of the roof. To create flooring for your roof, it’s advisable to go for lightweight materials such as wood chips, anti-slip synthetic decking, or wooden pallets. It will save hugely on your bills as well.

Adding greenery

Choose pots, tubs, and containers that aren’t made from heavy materials, as they are less likely to add pressure to your roof. Use Styrofoam peanuts for drainage at the bottom of the pots instead of rocks or pebbles.

Bear in mind that rooftops can get windy, so make sure the plants you choose aren’t going to topple over easily. You might want to incorporate windbreaks or sheltered areas in the garden to protect them.

The great thing about roof gardens is that they get hot, so they are ideal for growing a wide range of plants and even vegetables. But, before you get carried away with your green fingers, consider how you plan to water them. Rooftop garden plants will need watering more than plants in conventional gardens, so weigh up how you plan to get water to and from the plants. This will reduce your carbon footprint considerably.

Garden features

You can add as little or as much as you want to a roof garden, depending on its limitations, and, of course, how much you have to spend on it. Roof gardens are pretty easy to maintain and don’t cost a lot of money to achieve, so the options open for design and development are plentiful.

As well as adding garden furniture such as a table and chairs, you might want to add ambient lighting, a water feature, mini-shelters, trellises or fencing, for example.

Philippa L often writes home improvement and environmental articles, and she finds roof gardens fascinating. Philippa has recently moved house and she sourced her roofing materials from the specialists at Ashbrook Roofing. She frequently designs roof gardens and uses computer simulations for her designs.