We’ve all seen “those pictures” on the internet – the tiny, green oasis hiding out among the city rooftops; a small patch of nature overlooking a concrete jungle. Rooftop gardens are beautiful pieces of what seems like fantasy, comfort, and sophistication. In the suburbs or out in the country, a garden is a normal, easy thing, but on the rooftop of an apartment building, it seems like a big feat.
Realistically, they just take some intentional planning and forethought – asking the right questions and then doing some hard work to set it up to be not only a garden, but an oasis of relaxation for your residents. We can help with the design if you need it, but here are some things to consider first:
Just like in any other garden, asking the question, “what kinds of plants do I want in my garden?” is very important when considering implementing a rooftop garden. Do you want the garden to be useful for food? For cut flowers? For Herbs? Answering this question will help guide the rest of your vision for your rooftop garden.
While the question of “what” is a great one for rooftop gardens and residential gardens alike, rooftop gardens have the additional facet of being more of a community garden. This means that everyone who might use the garden will have an opinion. It is up to you to decide how much say you want to give your tenants into this garden – you may want to have a few community beds for your tenants to utilise and even maintain.
Depending on how much space you have, there are several options for your plant containers: beds (larger, not-so-portable containers), pots (smaller, and portable), or a mixture of the two. If you don’t have a lot of space, a great way to organise your plants is in a vertical garden – not only do they free up some space for extra seating, but they offer a beautiful green wall of privacy for those using the space.
Consider Local Conditions
What kinds of pests do you have in your area? In rooftop gardens, birds are often in the top pest problems, but other bugs and rodents are not unheard of. Make sure you take into consideration the common problems that local gardeners run into when both picking what plants you will be planting and how you will take care of pest control. Often small nets over the beds, held up by stakes, are a great way to keep those pesky birds away from your garden.
Prepare for Weather
Different plants do better in different climates, and those are very important things to consider when picking what plants will go in your garden, but most plants need a little bit of help, no matter what climate they are meant for. In rooftop gardens, the plants are high above any trees or buildings that would usually provide them shade, and a common mistake of rooftop gardeners is overlooking the fact that their garden will need more shade than usual. Make sure to invest in some shade structures to keep your plants happy and healthy!
Just like other gardens, provisions for the cold or dry spells need to be taken as well. High quality mulch will help regulate the soil temperature and moisture level to make your job a little bit easier.
Watering cans, hoses, water supply, shovels, rakes, hoes, pots, trellises, even soil and mulch are all things that a garden needs in order to grow and thrive. If you choose to keep your rooftop garden under your supervision and work, those are all expenses for which you will be responsible. However, if you choose to make it more of a community garden, each resident that chooses to participate will bring his or her own supplies, and will cut down on your cost.
A great thing about a rooftop garden is that it provides an outdoor common area for residents to relax, socialise, and just hang out. Make the space welcoming and comfortable with some seating areas, maybe a sound system, and turn it into a common area where people can spend their free time. You can even hold events there like open mic nights or movie nights, depending on your equipment and, of course, sound ordinances.
Make it Aesthetically Beautiful
Looking at green things growing – flowers, vegetables, nature in general – is proven to be great for mental health, and you can enhance those effects by making sure that your rooftop garden is an aesthetically beautiful place – aside from the plants. Nice seating, pretty lighting, and tidy garden areas will make a world of difference between a rooftop garden and a hangout spot. The more beautiful the area, the more likely people will be to not only come and use it, but to invest time and money into it.
Once you make your plan considering these 7 things, the rest is easy – setting it up, and letting your residents enjoy it, either by sitting and soaking it in, or by planting their own little garden for the community to enjoy. For more tips on how to get set up, contact us! We are here to help.